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Bryan to Brett

X-Men changes directors
By GARY SUSMAN  |  May 23, 2006

BUT THERE ARE CHANGES: More Storm plus Beast and the “Dark Phoenix.”

NEW YORK — “You can’t make everybody happy.” So says director Brett Ratner, talking at X-Men: The Last Stand's New York press junket at a Manhattan hotel. Ratner knew he’d be a target when he stepped in at the last minute for Bryan Singer, who directed the first two X-Men movies but departed to do this summer’s Superman Returns. “I don’t base my decisions on the criticisms I’m going to get. I like to challenge myself.”

Ratner says he wanted his X-Men movie to mesh with Singer’s. “Only really sophisticated viewers will say, ‘Oh, that’s a Bryan Singer film. That’s a Brett Ratner film.’ Instead of trying to reinvent it or make it different, I wanted people to watch 1, 2, and 3 and connect all the dots.”

The difference between the directors was apparent to the actors. “Bryan’s a more cerebral guy,” says Hugh Jackman (Wolverine). “Brett wants to have a good time all the time. It’s a very fun set. There’s probably more gags on this film than on the first two. Particularly the first one because there were a lot of nerves. Because this was a genre that was as cold as can get when we started out.”

Halle Berry says she found Ratner more receptive to her desire to make X-Men leader Storm more active. “I was begging, please, please. Not for more screen time, but if I was going to be in it for five minutes, then just let me have five good minutes, where Storm has a point of view or flies with the cape, not the plane. It wasn’t implemented until Brett came on.” If it hadn’t been for Brett, she says, she might have walked. “But he felt the way I felt. He made rewrites happen and made things change.”

Long-time X-fans should appreciate more Storm, and the introduction of previously absent characters like Beast (Kelsey Grammer), and the use of the comics’ “Dark Phoenix” plot, though the movie is often fuzzy about details. (Asked how much time passed between Jean Grey’s apparent death in X2 and her resurrection as Phoenix in this movie, Famke Janssen speculates, “A decent amount of time. Years, maybe.”) But James Marsden (Cyclops) echoes Ratner in not worrying too much about pleasing the fanboys. “It’s a very influential and powerful community, and it’s also the people who are going to be seeing your movie, so you obviously want to listen to what they have to say. But you can worry about that too much, you can go on-line too much, and you can lose focus and not trust what you’re doing. Bryan and Brett both had very clear visions of what they wanted these films to be.”

That vision includes raising issues of difference, prejudice, and persecution. Berry says she appreciated Last Stand’s story line about a controversial cure for mutation. ‘‘It hits home with me, being a person of color. It made me think, if I could change my skin color and not deal with being different that way, would I? No, I wouldn’t. But I also feel that if a cure were to be devised and someone else wanted to take it, would I be opposed to them taking it? No, I wouldn’t. I love that you would have a choice.”

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