Is it true that you were offered the first X-Men?
I was interested in it. I thought Bryan [Singer, director of the first two X-Men films] did a brilliant job of interpreting the comic. People take it for granted. There are things in comics that you have to interpret and visualize for the big screen. Dark Phoenix, for instance, is blowing up planets and galaxies. How do you show her power visually in the film medium? Bryan did a brilliant job of interpreting what existed in the comics, taking all that information and really doing a great visual interpretation of the movie. If you give the same comic to 10 different directors, you’ll get 10 different movies. But going through the other two movies, I really understood why he made certain decisions, and they made a lot of sense. I think I would have made different decisions. But because these two movies pre-existed and I love them and I’m a fan of them, I was able to follow the tone of the first two movies, which helped me decide on the type of movie that X3 was going to be. And, by the way, if it’s not on the page, then I’m not going to do it. I can’t create it. And I had the support of all the actors. I had every single actor back, except maybe one or two. I think the hardest scenes were probably the ones with the actors who weren’t in X-Men or X2 because all of us were new and we all had to kind of discover that tone as we were making the movie.
Did you have any input into the script or make any changes?
Oh, yeah. What I didn’t change was the plot. The plot of this movie, in my opinion — the concepts of ”The Cure” and the Dark Phoenix — is brilliant. What I changed were set pieces, the location of where the third act would take place, for example. Every day we were working on making the script better and when I say ”script,” I mean the relationships among the characters and the placement of the scenes because I’m very much into transitions. When you make a film, you’re not just shooting like 50 little movies. Every scene has to connect with the next. It was a much bigger canvas because it was a much more emotional story. The story — whether you’re an X-Men fan or not — is very relatable. ”The Cure” is a very strong issue.
You mentioned the emotional content, but how else is this movie a Brett Ratner movie?
I think what a director has to have is a point of view and I definitely have a point of view. I knew what I wanted. I had a lot of support because I had great actors who knew their characters and they were very opinionated about them, believe me. Every single actor had ideas about the scenes.
How much influence for this film did you take from the fans or fansites?
I’ll tell you this: The writers of this movie [Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg] are the biggest X-Men geeks on Earth. I did a test. I said, ”I wanna see a reference for every single scene in this movie.” I didn’t know that they had referenced the comics. I thought that some of the stuff was made up. There are thousands of X-Men comics, but I guarantee you a true X-Men geek can pull something from a comic or even a reference — it doesn’t even have to be an entire scene — but it was clear that every single scene was coming from the comic book. These guys know. If I say, ”What was in comic #134?”, these guys can tell you. That’s how fanatical they are.