Chris Claremont On Why He Can’t Look At X-Men Comics Anymore

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The name Chris Claremont is synonymous with the X-Men. The legendary writer’s run on the title spanned decades, giving rise to some of the most popular characters and stories in comic history.

Chris Claremont’s X-Men, directed by Patrick Meaney, focuses on the impact the books had on readers, then and now, and how the messages and themes within the stories mirrored contemporary society. The legendary writer feels that the dynamic of the X-Men has changed significantly since his days on the book, specifically the way the team has operated in the forefront of the Marvel universe.

“The thing about the X-Men is that it had a resonance to Jews, Muslims, to gays, to every outcast marginalized in aspects of society and personality in the modern pantheon. That’s who they are and they can’t change it. One of the primal mistakes that got made 15 years ago was the X-Men being totally outed for the convenience of a storyline. They weren’t clandestine any more, they were public. But by becoming public and entering into the mainstream, they have lost, over the last 15 years, their uniqueness. They lost what made them special and different from any other Avenger,” Claremont told Player.One.

Claremont acknowledges that fans and creators will have diverse perspectives on this change. Still, he sees it as a kind of loss for the X-Men. ”From a purely dramaturgical standpoint, it took away the thing that made this book totally unique: that there was a group in the Marvel omniverse, conceptually, who were outcasts for no other reason than they were born. And the weird thing is, in real life, that seems to be a challenge and a conflict that has heartbreakingly become more and more relevant in recent years. We thought it was on the wane as the 20th century wound down, and now suddenly its come back up again. My sense is ‘oh golly, we lost something.’ There are no spokespeople for that perspective in the Marvel pantheon anymore. They are all homogenized together,” he said.

Still, he’s not certain how this shift will affect the X-Men going forward. “At this point, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It’s up to the writers and the editors how they choose to play with it as time goes on,” he added.

In the film, Claremont compares the work environment when he first got on the X-Men books to the end of his run. The way Chris, along with editors Ann Nocenti and Louise Simonson, Claremont was essentially left to his own devices when constructing stories, something he feels can’t be duplicated in today’s commercialized comics industry.

Despite all of that, he loves seeing his creations come to life in different iterations, whether its on the page or television or film. However, that comes with a feeling of unfinished business. He now has a hard time seeing how much the characters he’s spent years thinking about have changed since his time running the series.

“I keep looking at them as works in progress. I can’t look at stories of X-Men anymore, because I have in my head visions of where the characters evolve, where they grow, where they’re going that are vastly different than the other writers since. There’s a part of me that desperately wants to tell all of those stories, and a part of me realistically knows that’s never going to happen. They are a part of a corporate environment, and the editorial and publishing choices and preferences are going in a different direction,” he explained.

Despite his misgivings, the writer seems somewhat resigned to the fact that things do come to an end. But that doesn’t make leaving the characters that he nurtured for years any easier.

“Like it or not, at some point you have to say goodbye and walk away. There’s always a part of you that will say, one more story! But it’s never one more story. It’s one story leads to the next,” said Claremont. ”That’s the yin and yang of the mainstream, commercial comic industry, when you build something that has an impact like this. Intellectually, you know you have to let go. But deep down in your heart, the connections are still there, and it’s a problem, a challenge, a pain in the ass.”  

Chris Claremont’s X-Men is available now on VOD.

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