By Cy Beltran
Chris Claremont started off his first spotlight panel in two years by singing. This author couldn’t tell you what the song was, but it absolutely set the tone for his creator spotlight at C2E2 2021.
The first ten minutes of the panel felt slightly disjointed, something Claremont readily admitted to as he tried to catch his bearings and settle back into panel life. The writer known most for his sixteen-year run on Uncanny X-Men bounced around from topic to topic, talking about his love of Coke over Pepsi, his preference for Sean Connery over Daniel Craig, and how much he wishes the craziness of the past two years would’ve stayed in comics.
Things really got going when Claremont opened up on his feelings towards the 20th Century Fox X-Men universe, explaining how, as far he knew, Simon Kinberg originally wanted there to be two Phoenix movies to give the story enough time to breathe. We instead got X-Men: Dark Phoenix, but Claremont says that if he had made the movies, he would have introduced Sophie Turner as Rachel Summers at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past and followed her transformation into the Phoenix and eventual confrontation with Apocalypse.
Claremont went as far as to say he would have made the movies a TV show in the style of Game of Thrones, tracing Jean Grey’s life over the course of many different seasons. He compared this style to the way he wrote his X-Men run, giving the characters enough time to grow and change, while giving the audience the space to learn who the characters were. Speaking of TV, Claremont also offered his thoughts on the upcoming revival of X-Men: The Animated Series, expressing disappointment by way of a comparison to Batman: The Animated Series and the lack of a Bruce Timm-like figure working on X-Men: TAS.
Turning back to Claremont’s writing style, the moderator noticed that throughout Claremont’s explanation of his ideal story, he never once mentioned fight scenes in detail, choosing instead to hone in on the emotional attachments of his characters. Claremont explained that he wants to focus on those interactions because that’s what keeps the reader with the story. Earning trust with the reader means building up those relationships and making sure they have weight, citing Uncanny X-Men #183 as something he couldn’t have done without crafting Kitty and Piotr’s relationship over many issues.
The panel moved into the Q&A portion at this point, with the first person asking Claremont about his original plans for the Silver Samurai after his scattered use in X-Books of the ’80s. Claremont was surprised anyone had even remembered he wrote Samurai and explained that he never gave the character too much thought, although he did reminisce that the cast of SNL let them use their likenesses for free.
Another person asked if Claremont thought it was odd that many of his minor characters were the ones people have latched onto more, to which Claremont responded “All of my characters are major characters.” The same person mentioned that their favorite character was Cannonball, which led to Claremont learning that Jonathan Hickman had added him to the Avengers and given him a wife and child.
A separate person later asked if Claremont had anything nice to say about House of X/Powers of X, which had helped that person get back into comics. It seemed as though Claremont had a tough time answering the question, since he is so used to Stan Lee’s rule of putting the toys in the toy box after one is done with the story. However, he did admit he is trying to read the books of the last few years and is trying to view them as an audience member would, rather than someone who shepherded the line for so long.
Two of the more interesting questions came when members of the audience asked where Claremont’s frequent use of bondage in X-stories came from and if he still believed The Exorcist was “Jesuit propaganda” (described in 1974’s House of Horror #3). To the former he replied “I’m English,” and to the latter: “No, not really.”
Towards the end, Claremont fell into a discussion about artist efficiency between now and the 80s, with his belief that there’s no one in comics today who can work as fast as the artists back then. He also wondered what the comics world would’ve been like if he had taken over Fantastic Four instead of John Byrne in the aftermath of Days of Future Past, which also led to his imagining of whether or not all of the characters he folded into X-Men from cancelled books would have become X-Men characters still or not.
The panel then concluded with little fanfare, as the time had run over. Chris Claremont thanked everyone and left the stage.
The Chris Claremont-written X-Men Legends #12 is out from Marvel on March 2nd.
Miss any of our previous C2E2 ’21 coverage? Find it all here!