Legendary Producer Lauren Donner Fought for a Movie About the X-Women at Fox

Jubilee, Kitty Pryde, Storm, Psylocke, Rogue, and Rachel Grey.
Jubilee, Kitty Pryde, Storm, Psylocke, Rogue, and Rachel Grey.
Image: Terry Dodson (Marvel)

Executive producer Lauren Donner has had a hand in bringing each and every single one of Fox’s blockbuster X-Men films to fruition and she takes pride in the work she’s put in at the studio. With the franchise’s future somewhat up in the air because of Marvel’s impending acquisition of 21st Century Fox, Donner recently opened up about what it was like to help usher in the modern age of superhero movies and what projects she wished she’d been able to get off the ground.


Despite the fact that Marvel Comics’ X-Men have a ridiculously large roster of characters that could have been incorporated into the films in any number of ways, Fox was plenty comfortable focusing on a relatively static core group of students as they became involved in Magneto and Professor X’s decades-long beef with one another. Speaking to Decider at this year’s Television Critics Association winter tour, Donner said that while those characters are near and dear to her heart, she always wanted to produce an X-Men movie focused on women mutants in roles of leadership because it’s a core part of the team’s canon:

“I didn’t get it through. But I think that would be cool. I think — not to have no guys in it, you have to have guys in it — but to make instead of Charles and Magneto at the helm it’ll be whomever. Kitty Pryde and Illyana [Rasputin].

Years ago the thought at the studio was ‘You can’t have a female superhero.’ ‘What about Tomb Raider?’ ‘Well that was different, that was Angelina Jolie.’ That’s what you’d get every single time.”


Donner was also frank about how, over time, she began to feel as if the X-franchise was losing its direction as each subsequent film would introduce new characters and plots, but never quite give them enough space to breathe on the screen because of how much space was afforded the Magneto/Xavier relationship. But, Donner says she’s confident the characters are in good hands at Marvel Studios:

“Subconsciously I realized that you can’t have these multiple superheroes all on the screen, story after story. Particularly with Charles [Xavier] and Magneto at the center because we’ve seen that, we’ve done that, we’ve done it many times. And I myself feel like somebody in the audience is gonna be like ‘Oh you know, this is just contrite’ which nobody wanted to do. The X-Men canon is ripe with multiple characters and everybody’s got a story and there’s so many stories. So why stick to the same story over and over again? We’ll get tired of making them, let alone the audience get tired of seeing them.

“Kevin Feige’s got all of his Marvel world, now he’s got the X-Men world. I trust Kevin to be very smart about it, and to weave them in judiciously, and not to flood the theaters with too many superhero movies.”

The next X-Men film, Dark Phoenix, is set for a June 7 release.

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io9 Culture Critic and Staff Writer. Cyclops was right.

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Derek Metaltron

I don’t think having the Xavier-Magneto rivalry in the MCU is an issue, but they also need to consider two major aspects of the X-Men - first that there are multiple teams and types of groups they can play with (Blue Team vs Gold Team, X-Force and New Mutants done properly, numerous generations etc) and second that THEY ARE A SCHOOL. So much of the Fox films focus on the senior teams and teachers rather than the students. MCU X-Men needs both with an aim to see the characters evolve, graduate and become X-Men themselves to teach the next generation. Have characters like teenaged Jean Grey or Kitty Pryde or Jubilee or Armour to grow up into those roles, just like Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is doing.