X2 screenwriter Michael Dougherty didn't get a crack at the third X-Men script, but he and Bryan Singer did kick around some ideas for a Phoenix-centric movie. He shares his different take on Rogue and the end of Jean Grey.
Dougherty left the X-Men franchise with director Bryan Singer when Singer decided to work on Superman Returns. But, during an interview with the /Film podcast about horror DVD Trick 'r Treat, Dougherty shared the ideas he and X2 Singer considered for the third X-Men movie:
"The idea was that you open up with Alkali Lake but it's completely barren and dried up and there are these odd reports of strange phenomena going on around the world accompanied by bright lights in the sky.
"The idea would be that both the X-Men and the Brotherhood realise that essentially a very god-like force had entered their reality and that it was causing disruptions around the world, you know mutant prisons being decimated, I had pitched an idea about a fleet of cargo ships getting torn apart in the Atlantic and you found out that they were shuttling mutants as slave labour.
"You found out was that Phoenix was going round the world taking things into her own hands and that she had basically returned as a god, which they did in X3. She had viewed herself as above the conflict, that she was here to end things on her terms, she was sick of the fighting and she was going to take things into her own hands and she did not give a s**t what the X-Men or the Brotherhood had to say about it.
"And ultimately the way it was going to end, at least the version I was pushing for, would be that Phoenix was kind of like the Starchild at the end of 2001, she didn't just get stabbed and die again, but she kind of chose to leave.
"The one idea that I loved, that I really wanted to do, was that Cyclops would build the Danger Room. He felt guilty that because the X-Men were too weak, they weren't strong enough or fast enough, that was the reason Jean died. If they were a little bit better at fighting, then she might still be alive. It was all about this guilt he had about her death and he built the Danger Room to train them to be better. In the end it really was about him not being able to let go of her and that causes the chaos and disruption in the movie and in the end it's about him letting her go.
"Ultimately she kind of becomes that cosmic force that Phoenix is known to be, she leaves Earth and becomes a god or at least a higher level of intelligence and she goes into the cosmos possibly to kick-start life somewhere else. The final scene for me would have been her telling Cyclops or her telling the X-Men 'I'll be watching.'"
Dougherty also said he wouldn't have had Rogue take a cure for her draining mutant abilities, and felt it was the wrong message to send:
"The whole point of Rogue's character is that she is supposed to come to terms with who she is and also I don't think it's good to tell girls 'Yeah you should change yourselves so you can get a guy.'"
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