HOLLYWOOD — Leaked images from the set of "X3" have been swirling around the Internet with the intensity of one of Storm's tornados, building a torrent of discontent from die-hard "X" fans repelled by the less-than-impressive appearance of beloved characters like Beast, Juggernaut and Colossus.
And while the man responsible, director Brett Ratner, is quick to defend his vision, all the noise being made is also furthering his desire to really go out with a bang.
"Well, it seems to be the last of the series," Ratner said of the eyebrow-raising title for the third film, "X-Men: The Last Stand," due May 26. "We wanted to make sure the audiences knew that this was a trilogy. Even though they weren't made together like 'Lord of the Rings,' this is really closure for the X-Men series. ... This is the last stand for sure."
A spokesperson for "X-Men" studio 20th Century Fox confirmed that "X3" will be the final film for the mutant team, a revelation that is likely to only increase the level of fan frustration over "The Last Stand."
It's no secret that the "Rush Hour" helmer has been under fire ever since he slipped into the director's chair vacated by Bryan Singer (see " 'Rush Hour' Director Ratner To Helm 'X3' "), who powered the first two films to financial success and an outpouring of geek glee. Web sites devoted to the series have been tearing down Ratner ever since, painting him as the man who will undoubtedly bring the franchise down, making the icy reception of the leaked photos a surprise to no one.
"Those photos were [taken] before I even started shooting," Ratner explained. "They were done in the testing process, so those photos are very, very old."
"I think whenever you're on the Internet and you have nothing to do and you're a fan, you become very anxious to get the information, but you have to consider the source," he continued, saying that such leaks undermine his efforts. "If it's sent out by [the studio], then you know it's official, but if it's put up on the Internet by someone who stole something illegally, then I think you should first consider what you're looking at."
|"X"-Rated Photos: See some of the new (and some old) mutants from "X-Men: The Last Stand"|
"If you take any beautiful woman and put her in bad lighting, she's not gonna look good," Ratner said, insisting that the leaked images have had the same effect on his costumes. "It's not the look of the movie and it's not even close to what we went for, and I'm hoping when the fans see the final result, they're gonna love it."
Following the directorial shuffle that found Ratner separated from his beloved "Superman" gig while Singer indirectly traded franchises with him, the Man of Steel will soar again one month after "The Last Stand," but winning the race to this summer cinema has apparently done little to hide which superhero story is closest to Ratner's heart.
"I love [the X-Men] world, and I'm sure Bryan Singer would love to do it too, and he's actually better at it than I am," he admitted before alluding to the long-rumored spinoff movies for Wolverine and Magneto. "For him to come back [for those] would be amazing," Ratner beamed, offering up another trade. "Just like I would love to do a Superman movie one day. We'll swap."
Wolverine actor Hugh Jackman has professed his enthusiasm for the spinoff idea, and Marvel Studios head Avi Arad has even said development for those two films is already in the works (see "Future Shocks: What's Ahead For Avi Arad And His Marvel Empire?").
Check out everything we've got on "X-Men: The Last Stand."
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