Motor City Comic Con: Chris Claremont Panel!

When thinking of your favorite X-Men story arcs it’s safe to say one name is most likely popping up more than others (No, not Stan Lee): Chris Claremont. Whether its co-creating one of your favorite X-Men ( Gambit, Sabretooth, Rogue and not to mention helping develop Wolverine into the blue haired, cigar chomping badass we all know and love) or writing pivotal story arcs like “The Dark Phoenix Saga”, Claremont is a name that comic fans embrace with respect. With Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Futures Past (along with John Bryne, Claremont wrote the original comic book)  less than a week from being released, I attended a Claremont Q&A panel. Claremont is a soft-spoken man who is able to command a room of hardcore comic fans with (what felt like) minimal effort. His charisma and confidence were infectious and it was hard not to revert back to the 13-year-old fan boy listening to him talk.  In-between bites of his lunch Claremont answered fans questions, shared his thoughts on  comic book movies and gave insights on his writing process. The man spoke for nearly 90 minutes (pushing nearly 70 it didn’t even seem to phase him!) so I broke it down to good stuff (not to say there is bad stuff here I just don’t want to type that much). Enjoy!

Claremont’s thoughts on The Amazing Spider Man 2…

“The problem with superhero movies is you hope you get The Avengers, but sometimes the reality is you get Spidey 2.2. I call it Spidey 2.2 because if you call it Spider-Man 2 people go “Wait, do you mean the Spider-Man with Alfred Molina because that one was really good you know!” Yes it was really good because it was directed by Sam Raimi who is really good. Sam foolishly had this attitude with Sony where he said “How about for the third movie we has LESS characters!” and Sony was like  “NOOOOO! WE WANT MORE CHARACTERS! 3 CHARACTERS IN THE THIRD, 4 IN THE FOURTH AND 5 IN THE FIFTH!” Well, oddly enough this is the fifth movie and what do we have? Sinster Six! Yes six characters cause they can’t count. I’m making fun of Spidey because I can and because the X-Men movie hasn’t come out yet!”

Claremont was asked what he thought of Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past….

They got it right. At least in the title. They got big robots in it. It’s very 70’s. I don’t know what the TARDIS is doing in the White House, but that’s a totally different story. My basic feeling is that is probably  the richest, most talented, most “box-office-holy-cow-cast” I have ever seen. You can take any two members of that cast and build an award-winning successful movie. And they have! I think it’s way cool and we’ll know in a week.

[Audience member asks if he has seen it]

No.

[Did they ask you anything about it]

No. It’s Fox. What’s the point. The producer asked me if I would fly out to L.A. and participate in pre press conference with the actors. I said, ” Hell Yes!”. She pitched it to the Fox high ups and they said “Oh no. We just need the actors. The original writer of the source material is not a smart move….” I hate to say it, but my softest response is my only response: It’s not my 120 million bucks. It’s Fox’s and they get to call the shots. Yes I would love to be a part of it, but by the same token Marvel isn’t screening either. So take that for whatever you will.”

Claremont was asked how it feels seeing his  story arcs played out on the big screen…

“Well the interesting story was I called from Darren Aaronofsky’s people. They were just setting up their shop in Brooklyn and they asked me to come down and read Chris McQuarrie’s first screenplay and I thought “Why?” [at this point someone from the audience asks if Claremont is talking about X-Men Origins: Wolverine]. No!  THEE WOLVERINE! There is the X-Men Origins Wolverine, which is 43 minutes of [Claremont makes barfing noises] and about 20 minutes of “Not so bad.” Let’s face it Hugh Jackman…Absolutely cool. X-Men Origins was forced on the studios by Fox because it was thought that the general film going audience would not understand who he is or what he is or why he is. He needed an origin. My feeling was “Dude, it’s Hugh Jackman! Who cares!”.  He walks out on-screen and we go, “That’s Wolverine!” and the rest is irrelevant. But what do I know. Not only am I just a civilian when it comes to movies, I also live on the East Coast! Besides the fact that it’s one of the films that has 3-4 of the lines I wrote in it, which made me an impossibly annoying person to go to the movies with, my wife was hitting me in the kidneys because I wouldn’t shut-up. But Hugh Jackman is saying “I’m the best at what I do”. YES! Now you know why I’m paid by the word. Never say in a sentence what you can say in a volume. Or as Geogre R.R. Martin does in five volumes!”

 Claremont  was asked what it was like working with Stan Lee….

I’ve known Stan for [long pause] 45 years. WOW! I’ve known him for a long time. He hired me…the first time. Without Stan you guys wouldn’t be here. Without Stan this convention wouldn’t be here. And he made a damn fine commercial for the postal service [laughs].  Stan deserves everything he’s got and more. The debt we own him as fans is almost impossible to pay. And he’ll still do autographs. The world, at least from my eyes, would be sadder without him. As it was when Jack [Kirby] died and Dave Kaufman died.

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