In comic books, the author behind the ideas is rarely thought about. Stan Lee has made a name for himself the world over, but his part in telling the stories was short lived. For decades after he created those characters it has been the job of hundreds of people to keep them going. Chris Claremont’s X-Men focuses on one of these creators, a man who took an underdeveloped group of superheroes and made them one of the most popular titles Marvel has to offer.
As a biography about the man himself, Chris Claremont’s X-Men is somewhat lacking as it only gives the basic details about Chris Claremont’s upbringing and how he entered the industry. The true focus of the film comes when the preamble is over, at this point it begins to tell the story of how Chris came to write the X-Men. While it provides plenty of detail about the specifics, it also allows Chris to provide a detailed background of how he created the characters and storylines that have become iconic. We are also introduced to two of the editors that Chris worked with while writing the X-Men, Louise Simonson and Ann Nocenti. We meet several other writers and editors, but it is clear that other than Chris, these two women had the most impact on the stories and characters of the X-Men.
The film takes us through a complete history of Chris’s 17-year career on the X-men, both as a creator dealing with editors and the corporate pressures of the industry and the storylines. It eschews the typical dramatic setup that some documentaries attempt and instead offers a deep dive into the creative processes and story development. While the information is fascinating, the visual material that accompanies it leaves something to be desired, The editing is choppy and at times the interviews are conducted in the strangest places, like a windy patio. The director also opted to include off-putting tableaus of the X-Men characters that are more confusing than anything else. Thankfully, all of the awkward moments take a backseat to the interesting content.
Chris Claremont’s X-Men is not for everyone. It is a film created by and for fans who want a deeper understanding of the creators of their favorite comics. However, its subject is a man who wrote brilliant stories that have echoed through our pop culture in a myriad of ways and appealed to a wide variety of people. He has a deep understanding of how to tell stories and what they mean to the people who read them. Chris Claremont’s X-Men was created for a certain audience, but it should also appeal to anyone with an interest in how captivating stories are created.
You can also read our recent interview with Chris Claremont now!