Published On: Mon, Apr 18th, 2016

Chris Claremont discusses death threats for killing Jean Grey

Comic book fans know his name as Chris Claremont wrote The Uncanny X-Men and many spin-off titles between 1975 and 1991. Inside Empire’s X-Men: Apocalypse cover story Claremont discussed key storylines in the characters’ evolution, noting a rocky road to deliver these popular stories.

During the Dark Phoenix Saga, issues 129-138, Jean Grey was transformed into the dangerous creature and she dies, something fans didn’t handle well.

X-Men Apocalypse  Olivia Munn Michael Fassbender Oscar Isaac“It was the comic-book studio system done absolutely right,” Claremont said, explaining how the twist was developed. “I think subconsciously we were heading towards a tragic ending, but neither [artist] John Byrne nor I really wanted to go there because Jean was one of our favorite characters and her relationship with Scott [Summers] was the second oldest romantic relationship in the Marvel universe. There had to be a happy ending, we thought. But Jim Shooter, the editor-in-chief, read the issue and realized, ‘Hang on, she’s just committed planetary genocide and she gets away with a slap on the wrist!’ That, he felt, was a little inappropriate. My decision was she dies. And because of the era — no internet, no fan magazines posting top secret information — we caught everybody by surprise.”


When asked about the fan reaction: “Oh, we got death threats. Frank Miller and I kept notes because Frank got death threats when he killed off Elektra and I got death threats when I killed off Phoenix. Frank even contacted the NYPD to ask, ‘Should we take this seriously?’ And they said, ‘Well, if somebody shoots you, yes.’ We were going to try as hard as possible to make it stick: she died. She’s not coming back. End of story. Of course, that got upended by ideas that the editors and the company felt were appropriate, but for three or four years we established for the readers that our heroes were at legitimate risk. You couldn’t sit back and say, ‘Well they’re heroes, everything’s going to come out all right at the end.’ Not necessarily.”

All of that said, now fans know the death of the character is just a trigger to count the days until they return.

“Every time they die now everybody starts the countdown to when they’re coming back!”

Check out the full interview, all the details from Claremont ahead of X-Men: Apocalypse.

Oscar Isaac stars as the titular villain with his “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”: Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Archangel (Ben Hardy). Professor X (James McAvoy) leads the team of X-Men with Jennifer Lawrence returning as Mystique, Nicholas Hoult as Beast with Lucas Till (Havok), Evan Peters (Quicksilver) and Rose Byrne (Moira).

Also new to the franchise are Lana Condor (Jubilee), and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Nightcrawler) with a rumored appearance by Hugh Jackman.

X-Men: Apocalypse when it opens a month later on May 27th.

X-Men Apocalypse EW cover Olivia Munn Michael Fassbender Oscar Isaac


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About the Author

- Stephen is a contributor and writer on The Dispatch. Stephen is the founder and editor for the Steven Spielberg Fan Club website and contributes to pop culture stories on The Dispatch, especially upcoming movie news. Beginning in 2016, Stephen took the role of Managing Editor for the Tampa Dispatch.

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