Zak Penn Talks About How We Almost Got a Very Different X-Men 2

When it comes to the early 2000 comic book movies X2: X-Men United is one the few that holds up to the standards of today. It’s not nearly as good as some of other comic book movies we’ve seem in recent years but it’s all around pretty darn good. We almost had a very different movie though according to writer Zak Penn, who shares a writing credit on Ready Player One, detailed to The Hollywood Reporter his influence over the project and it turns out it was a big one.

“On X2, part of how I ended up getting the job on it was that originally that was going to be the Phoenix story,” says Penn, who made the case to director Singer for holding that classic comic book plot back. “I just said … ‘You’ve built up this real universe and you should establish it more before you go into Phoenix.'”

Penn wisely thought that jumping into the Phoenix story line wasn’t the way to go. The main reason the Phoenix story is remembered so fondly is that it featured a bunch of characters everyone was very attached to. They cared about whether or not Jean would end up being a bad guy and she barely had any screen time in X-Men.

“It was too soon to go into the Phoenix story and it was too soon to get cosmic. I would say that’s probably the biggest contribution I made… pushing it in that direction,” says Penn who left the project before shooting. “There are a bunch of scenes I wrote that are still in there. I don’t remember what movie I left to do while they were making X-Men 2, but that was kind of the story of my life. I would come in and do something and then leave.”

X2 famously ends with one of the first fanboy teases in comic book movies. This was before Marvel got the post-credits scene or Batman seeing the Joker card in Batman Begins. It’s just a shame the Phoenix story we ended up getting wasn’t good. At all.

Summary: When the creator of a virtual reality world called the OASIS dies, he releases a video in which he challenges all OASIS users to find his Easter Egg, which will give the finder his fortune. Wade Watts finds the first clue and starts a race for the Egg.

Ready Player One, directed by Steven Spielberg, stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Simon Pegg, T.J. Miller, Mark Rylance, and Ben Mendelsohn. It will be released on March 29th.

About Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is the Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. She loves movies, television, comics, and political satire. She's a member of the UFCA and the GALECA. Feminist. Writer. Nerd. Follow her on twitter @katiesmovies and @safaiagem on instagram. She's also a co-host at The Nerd Dome Podcast. Listen to it at

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