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‘X-Men’ Writer Simon Kinberg on How He Merged the Old with the New

X-Men: Days of Future Past” marks producer Simon Kinberg’s first start-to-finish job as a screenwriter, after co-writing and working on rewrites for previous “X-Men” titles. Kinberg has stepped into the spotlight to take on on additional promotional duties since director Bryan Singer dropped out of promoting the film after sexual abuse allegations were brought against him.

“I love talking about this movie and my role as a writer and a producer,” he told Variety.

Opening Friday, “Days of Future Past” assembles the largest-yet number of characters from the X-Men universe in one film. In total, 20 major characters (including both the younger and older versions of Magneto and Professor X) are strung throughout the pic, which jumps from the future to the past and back again, with Wolverine (played by Hugh Jackman) uniting the time periods.

Kinberg talked to Variety about being the spokesman for the film and why Batman and X-Men are never going to exist on the same screen.

Variety: You’ve got quite a few characters to balance onscreen, not to mention some heavy hitters when it comes to talent. 

Simon Kinberg: It’s true. You have  No. 9, 10, 11 on the call sheet who are all used to being No. 1. The challenge is to tell stories that are worthy of the actors; there really hasn’t been a cast quite like this.

How did you keep them and their past and future storylines straight?  

I note-carded it out. All the scenes in the movie. I broke down each of the character’s stories and each one had a different color notecard that ran like parallel tracks on a bulletin board. Yellow was for Jen Lawrence, because of her character’s eyes. Purple was for Wolverine, read into that what you will [purple has historically been the color of the villain in comicbooks]. Beast was blue because of his skin. Young Charles was green and young Eric was red.

Moviegoers seem to be inundated with Marvel properties. What makes “X-Men” distinct?

There’s a tone, it probably most closely resembles a “Dark Knight” tone. It’s a little more dramatic and weighted and almost operatic than any other superhero movie. However, this movie has some lightness and humanity. It’s a dramatic franchise that’s hard to integrate into anything else. Licensing issues aside, Batman and X-Men are not going to exist together.

What’s it like to have to take on more responsibilities when it comes to promoting the film? 

I’m very connected to this movie, being the person who wrote the first and last draft. I’ve been much more involved in the post process, and I saw lots of cuts of the film. I have a sense of the film’s balance.

(Slight spoiler ahead)

This film reverses some of the actions in the previous “X-Men” films. Where do you go from here? 

For this film we first thought of bringing Ian and Patrick in as bookends, and not integrating them into the main plot. The idea got floated, and I’m a fan of the comic and the days of future past [storyline, which was published in the early 1980s] so we just did it.

What direction are you going in for “X-Men: Apocalypse?” There’s only so many times the world can be saved and history can be altered, right?

Yes, but the audience has an appetite. And as long as there’s an appetite, these characters have something to give.

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