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Director Brett Ratner Discusses X-Men: The Last Stand

Ratner's First Comic Book-Inspired Movie


Director Brett Ratner Discusses X-Men: The Last Stand

Hugh Jackman and Brett Ratner on the set of X-Men: The Last Stand.

© 20th Century Fox
X-Men: The Last Stand - The Story: Mutants are presented with an interesting opportunity in the third X-Men movie. A cure's been developed and mutants can now decide if they want to retain their powers or take the cure and transform into normal human beings.

Receiving the Call to Direct X-Men: The Last Stand: Brett Ratner took over the reins when Matthew Vaughn – Bryan Singer’s replacement – backed out of the project. Ratner admits it came as a big surprise when he got the invitation to take on the last X-Men movie. “Yeah, I thought that my chances were gone. I said, once I’d left Superman I said, ‘Well, Bryan’s doing X-Men and Sam Raimi’s doing Spider-Man. Batman is now Chris Nolan’s movie, so I’ll never get another opportunity.’ Then when Bryan left, I thought, ‘Oh, s**t. Wow, this is a great opportunity for me.’ I wasn’t going to do Superman so I put out to the universe that I wanted to do a superhero movie.”

How stressful was the rush to get X-Men: The Last Stand done? Ratner says, “You know, everyone keeps asking me about it. The truth is I had 125 days to shoot. It’s not like I had half the time to shoot it. I had more time than X2 so I can’t complain about them giving me the time. The rush was really on the visual effects. The visual effects came out great.”

Ratner Also Contributed to the Script: Asked what he added to the story, Ratner explained, “My own is just relative as far as I’m trying to make it less my own than I am trying to make it part of the trilogy, the same way that Return of the King was part of The Lord of the Rings. I did a lot of work on the script. I didn’t change the story, I just changed the structure. If you want an example of that, the huge third act set piece which is the Golden Gate Bridge, that was originally in the middle of the movie and was used in a very different context. I just took that set piece and I moved it the third act so it was more part of the plot. It was structural changes that I was doing, where things happen...”

Speaking of the Script: Ratner confirmed that all of the storylines in the film are directly from the comic books. “Every single scene in the movie is from the comic books. There’s not a scene that is not from the comic and is referencing it.”

That doesn’t mean there won’t be surprises for fans of the comics in the movie. “I think I give a lot to the fans. I think there’s a tremendous amount of surprises for them when they see it, all the things we’ve been able to do. For instance with Angel… In X2 they built a set for him and never ended up using him. It always felt like an appendage…figuring out how to make it integral to the plot, or tie into the plot.”

Adapting to the World of Comic Books and Superheroes: “Well, I’d never done it before so it was a challenge but once I got in the groove… I mean, a director’s job is to tell a story and 50 years ago, directors were going from musicals to dramas to comedies to Westerns. Their job is to tell the story no matter what the story is. So it wasn’t that hard. The difficulty was keeping the tone of the first two movies, which was already established but which is fantastic - which Bryan did a great job doing - and then kind of focusing on the emotionality of the story and the characters. That was my focus.”

The Tone of the Story of X-Men: The Last Stand: “The movie’s really about power, the use and misuse of power. It’s really about a choice and it deals with alienation. Someone invented a cure for being a mutant and so they face a choice, whether to conform and become human, to one prejudice, or they maintain their uniqueness or identity and their powers and embrace what makes them different. It’s really about what kind of choice does the cure offer.”

Ratner continued. “You can relate it to abortion, you can relate it to homosexuality. The question really has strong racial, political, social and sexual aspects of it. What if an African-American could take a pill and ‘cure’ them of being black or if a gay could take something that would alter his sexuality. Those choices are really strong choices to make and we show both sides of it. Halle Berry, why would she want to lose her power? She’s worshipped in her village in Africa, right, For changing the weather. For Rogue, Anna Paquin, she’s never had contact with a human.

The social aspect is really the Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix story. We wanted to make Dark Phoenix as psychological as possible. It’s a character-driven franchise so it really has to be about the characters and the psychological journey of these characters. The Jean plot is about choice as well. That’s why I love it because when do you give up on somebody you love? And the cure, some people feel that it’s going against nature. The same way people feel about abortion.”

Page 2: The Future of X-Men and Rush Hour 3

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