X-Men: First Class screenwriter Jane Goldman, who penned Fox's X-Men prequel with director Matthew Vaughn, reflects on the "frantic" process behind scripting the mutant Marvel movie up to and through production. Inspired by the Jeff Parker-created Marvel comic book of the same name, the 1960s-set First Class was pitched to Vaughn by X-Men franchise producer Simon Kinberg after the filmmaker withdrew from directing 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand. Vaughn was hired to "reboot" the X-Men franchise — then consisting of a trilogy and 2009 spinoff X-Men Origins: Wolverine — following the success of his superhero satire Kick-Ass, released some 14 months earlier.
"They wanted to get the script written in three weeks while going straight into pre-production," Goldman told The Hollywood Reporter. Because Vaughn's wife, Claudia Schiffer, had just given birth to their third child, Vaughn and Goldman would discuss their rewrite of Zack Stentz & Ashley Miller's script from the hospital.
"I remember he and I meeting up in her hospital room. That was very tolerant of her," Goldman said. "I'd go home and write for 16 hours a day. I do remember it being a very, very frantic time and Matthew was already starting to look at sets and actors. I remember it being a huge scramble."
That initial three-week scripting period was "just to get a script to reflect what Matthew wanted to do with the film," Goldman said in a 2011 interview. "We wanted to get that ready in time for pre-production to begin so that we didn't have a script that wasn't ready, and say 'We're going to change this and change this,' but to actually have it all in the script."
Goldman scripted the movie "solidly from the moment Matthew signed on at the beginning of May until shooting started in September, and during the shoot also," she said. "The three weeks I referenced before were the solid three weeks it took to complete a first draft… after that, we rewrote and polished constantly right up until shooting began, and beyond."
During a 2011 interview with Superhero Hype, Vaughn said he was inspired to take on First Class because of "unfinished business."
"I was totally excited about doing X3 and basically co-wrote the script with Kinberg and Zak Penn," he said. "We did that in six days together, and then storyboarded the whole movie, prevised all the big sequences, and then like an idiot, thought that I didn't have enough time to make the film I wanted, so I had to leave."
"I sort of regretted that ever since," Vaughn continued. "And when Fox rang me up and said, 'Do you want a chance to reboot X-Men and put your stamp all over it?' When they told me that, I thought they were joking at first, and then they told me it would happen in the '60s against the Cuban missile crisis as the backdrop, I thought, 'God, this sounds cool. Why not? Let's do it.'"
The irony of a hurried production wasn't lost on Vaughn, who exited Last Stand when it became clear he lacked the proper time needed to meet Fox's Memorial Day 2006 release date after being hired in March 2005.
"That is the irony, and then they said, 'But the bad news is that the best case scenario you have ten or eleven months until we release it.' I was like, 'Oh, f—,'" Vaughn recalled. "Then I went, 'Guys, I've now made two movies since then. I feel confident enough that we can get on with it.'"
First Class was followed by X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse, both directed by X-Men and X2's Bryan Singer. The 20-year-old franchise concluded with Kinberg's Dark Phoenix last summer. The X-Men property will next be rebooted under Disney-owned Marvel Studios.