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X-Men toys

THURSDAY, MAY 18, 2006


NEW YORK -- Notice something different about Pryo in those quick-cut, X-Men: The Last Stand commercials that are permeating the airwaves these days?

Sure, he's more of a bad-ass than ever. But now he's a blonde, like in the comics.

"It was my idea, so I people donıt hate it that much," said Aaron Stanford, who reprises his X2 role for the third film. "I don't hunt down comments online about my character, but I had stumbled across a couple of people saying, 'You know, we love Pyro, but Aaron Stanfordıs not blonde and the real Pyro's blonde.'

"The real Pyro, his hair is poofed up, it's like a giant candle flame. So I said, 'I certainly don't want to do that.' But I do like the idea that this guy took up with Magneto, been on the run for a while, in hiding, changed up his image a little bit. I thought it was a good excuse to kind of make it a little closer to the comic book, and be a little more faithful to it."

Another big difference is that Pyro has ditched the lighter.

"He can do anything he wants to do with the flame, so as long as there's a spark or something to create a flame," Stanford said. "So he has these wrist igniters so he can do it at a push of a button. If he wants to start a fire, he just snaps it on."

When we last saw Pyro at the end of X2, he climbed aboard a helicopter with Magneto and Mystique, seemingly leaving the X-Men for the Brotherhood.

What has he been up to?

"He and Magneto have been amassing this army," Stanford said. "He's become Magneto's right-hand man and they're trying to start this movie, they're trying to amass this army of the disenfranchised. All these people who are in the Brotherhood are people who have been victimized by the rest of humanity, people who have been rejected and turned out by their own families, people who have been brutalized.

"Magneto capitalizes on that. He says, 'I'm going to accept you for the first time as nobody else has. And on top of that, I'm going to give you the world; the worldıs going to be ours. You're no longer a victim, you're a god now. And you're part of The Brotherhood.'"

Magneto is perhaps the most key character to X-Men: The Last Stand as his story arc dating back to X-Men is played out.

"His ideals are actually quite noble," Stanford said. "If you remember from the first movie, it starts out with him as a young boy in a concentration camp and thereıs reference made to that again here. I think the whole reason that he started because he was determined that nobody would ever do this to him again, that nobody would ever exterminate his people. But in the course, absolute powers corrupts, so I think he gets drunks on his power, and there you have it."

Stanford said he enjoyed working with Ian McKellen, who plays Magneto.

"It's amazing. The guy's a knight, you know what I mean?" Stanford said. "So there's that aspect of it that's overwhelming, and you're honored to be around this guy. But at the same time, he's just so hysterically funny."

In a battle scene, Pyro teams with Magneto as the Master of Magnetism throws cars in the air and Pryo ignites them, forming potent weapons.

"Cars just don't spontaneously explode," Stanford explained about the tag-team effort. "I read an article about it recently, actually. They tried to replicate what happens in movies whenever a car falls off a cliff and it explodes. It doesn't happen."

As as shown in the commercial, Pryo has a long-awaited showdown with Iceman. "It was great," Stanford said.

The high-stakes action reflects the nature of the film. No one appears safe, and numerous characters are permanently changed by the end.

"They make a lot of really bold and decisive, permanent choices in this movie," Stanford said.

X-Men: The Last Stand opens May 26.

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