X-Men is a feature length, big budget live-action adaptation of the X-Men comics. Produced by 20th Century Fox and released in the summer of 2000. The film's popularity triggered a revival in superhero movie summer blockbusters that still steadily continues to this day.
The movie was directed by Bryan Singer and explores the ideas of prejudice and discrimination in the United States. The shooting script was written by David Hayter (who has a cameo appearance in the film as a police officer in the Statue of Liberty area). A sequel, X2: X-Men United, was released in 2003 with Singer returning as director.
In Congress, Senator Robert Kelly attempts to pass a "Mutant Registration Act", which would force mutants to publicly reveal their identities and abilities. Magneto begins his plans to level the playing field between mutants and humans. Meanwhile, a girl named Marie (a.k.a Rogue) runs away from her home in Meridian, Mississippi. She meets Logan (a.k.a Wolverine) in Canada. Suddenly, both of them are attacked by Sabretooth, a mutant and associate of Magneto. Cyclops and Storm arrive and save Wolverine and Rogue and bring them to the X-Mansion. Professor Charles Xavier runs the facility, and leads a group of mutants who are trying to seek peace with the human race, educate young mutants in the responsible use of their powers, and stop Magneto from starting a war with humanity.
Abducted by Mystique and Toad, Senator Kelly is brought to Magneto, who tests a machine on him that artificially induces mutation though Kelly manages to escape imprisonment with his new abilities. After an accident causes Rogue to use her powers on Wolverine, she is convinced by Mystique (disguised as Bobby Drake) that Xavier is angry with her and that she should leave the school. Xavier uses Cerebro to locate Rogue at a train station. Mystique infiltrates Cerebro and sabotages the machine. At the train station, Wolverine convinces Rogue to stay with Xavier but a fight ensues when Magneto, Toad and Sabretooth arrive to take Rogue. Arriving at Xavier's school Kelly dissolves into a puddle of water when his mutation becomes unstable.
The X-Men learn that Magneto intends to use Rogue's ability on himself to power his machine. Xavier attempts to use Cerebro to locate Rogue but falls into a coma. Jean Grey fixes it and uses Cerebro to find Magneto's machine on Liberty Island, which Magneto intends to use on the world leaders who are meeting for a summit on nearby Ellis Island. Just as the group arrives at the top of the statue and kill Toad, Magneto and Sabretooth incapacitate the group and continue with their plans. Magneto transfers his powers to Rogue who is forced to use them to start the machine. Wolverine breaks free and initiates a fight with Sabretooth but is thrown over the side of the statue.
Wolverine returns, and Cyclops, with Jean's help, blasts Sabretooth out of the statue. With Jean stabilizing him, Storm uses her abilities to send Wolverine to the top of Magneto's machine. With time running out, Wolverine attempts to stop the machine and save Rogue, but Magneto, now having regained some of his strength, halts Wolverine's claws. Cyclops manages to find a clean shot, wounding Magneto and allowing Wolverine to destroy the machine. Placing his hand to her face, Wolverine succeeds in transferring his regenerative abilities to a dying Rogue. Professor Xavier recovers from his coma and the group learns that Mystique is still alive (after Wolverine stabbed her at Liberty Island) when they see her impersonating Senator Kelly on a news broadcast. In an attempt to help Wolverine learn more about his past, Xavier sends him to a military base near Alkali Lake. Xavier visits Magneto in his plastic prison cell, and the two play chess. Magneto warns his friend that he will continue his fight, to which Xavier promises that he will always be there to stop him.
Concept art for Beast (before the character was deleted from subsequent scripts) by Industrial Light & Magic Throughout 1989 and 1990, Stan Lee and Chris Claremont were in discussions with James Cameron and Carolco Pictures for an X-Men film adaptation. The deal fell apart when Cameron went to work on Spider-Man, Carolco went bankrupt, and the film rights reverted to Marvel Studios. In December 1992, Marvel discussed selling the property to Columbia Pictures to no avail. Meanwhile, Avi Arad produced the animated X-Men TV series for Fox Kids. 20th Century Fox was impressed by the success of the TV show, and producer Lauren Shuler Donner purchased the film rights for them in 1994.
Andrew Kevin Walker was hired to write the script in early 1994. Walker's draft involved Professor Xavier hiring Wolverine into the X-Men, which consists of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast, and Angel. The Brotherhood of Mutants, which consisted of Magneto, Sabretooth, Toad, and the Blob, try to conquer New York City, while Henry Peter Gyrich and Bolivar Trask attack the X-Men with three 8 feet (2.4 m) tall Sentinels. The script focused on the rivalry between Wolverine and Cyclops, as well as the latter's self-doubt as a field leader. Part of the backstory invented for Magneto made him the cause of the Chernobyl disaster. The script also featured the X-Copter and the Danger Room. Walker turned in his second draft in June 1994.
More scripts were written by John Logan, James Schamus, and Joss Whedon. Whedon claimed his script was rejected because of its "quick-witted pop culture-referencing tone". Only two dialogue exchanges from his draft appeared in the finished film. One of these scripts kept the idea of Magneto turning Manhattan into a "mutant homeland", while another hinged on a romance between Wolverine and Storm. In 1996, Fox approached Michael Chabon to write a script. Chabon's six-page film treatment focused heavily on character development between Wolverine and Jubilee. It also included Professor X, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Beast, Iceman, and Storm. Under Chabon's plan, the villains would not have been introduced until the second film.
Robert Rodriguez was approached to direct, but turned down the offer. Bryan Singer was looking to do a science fiction film after the release of The Usual Suspects. Fox approached Singer for Alien Resurrection, but producer Tom DeSanto felt X-Men would be a better opportunity as he was impressed with how Singer directed an ensemble cast in The Usual Suspects.Singer turned down the offer, believing that comic books were unintelligent literature. By July 1996, Singer had further turned down the film another two times, and finally accepted after reading the comics and watching the animated series. The themes of prejudice in the comic resonated with Singer.
By December 1996, Singer was in the director's position, while Ed Solomon was hired to write the script in April 1997, and Singer went to film Apt Pupil. Fox then announced a Christmas 1998 release date. In late 1997, the budget was projected at $60 million. In late 1998, Singer and DeSanto sent a treatment to Fox, which they believed was "perfect" because it took "seriously" the themes and the comparisons between Xavier and Magneto and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, unlike the other scripts. They made Rogue an important character because Singer recognized that her mutation, which renders her unable to touch anyone, was the most symbolic of alienation. Singer merged attributes of Kitty Pryde and Jubilee into the film's depiction of Rogue. Magneto's plot to mutate the world leaders into accepting his people is reminiscent of how Constantine I's conversion to Christianity ended the persecution of early Christians in the Roman Empire; the analogy was emphasized in a deleted scene in which Storm teaches history. Senator Kelly's claim that he has a list of mutants living in the United States recalls Joseph McCarthy's similar claim regarding communists.
Fox, who had projected the budget at $75 million, rejected the treatment, which they estimated it would have cost $5 million more. Beast, Nightcrawler, Pyro, and the Danger Room had to be deleted before the studio greenlighted X-Men. Fox head Thomas Rothman argued that this would enhance the story, and Singer concurred that removing the Danger Room allowed him to focus on other scenes he preferred. Elements of Beast, particularly his medical expertise, were transferred to Jean Grey. Singer and DeSanto brought Christopher McQuarrie from The Usual Suspects, and together did another rewrite. David Hayter simultaneously rewrote the screenplay, receiving solo screenplay credit from the Writers Guild of America, while Singer and DeSanto were given story credit. The WGA offered McQuarrie a credit, but he voluntarily took his name off when the final version was more in line with Hayter's script than his.
Russell Crowe was Singer's first choice to play Wolverine. After Crowe turned the role down due to salary demands, a number of actors offered their services for the role before Singer cast Dougray Scott. Part of Scott's contract included a sequel, but Scott backed out due to scheduling conflicts with Mission: Impossible II in early October 1999. Hugh Jackman, who was an unknown actor at the time, was cast three weeks into filming. Keanu Reeves also expressed interest in the role.
Singer first suggested to Patrick Stewart that he play Xavier while X-Men executive producer Richard Donner was filming 1997's Conspiracy Theory. James Caviezel was originally cast as Cyclops, but backed out due to scheduling conflicts with Frequency. James Marsden was unfamiliar with his character, but soon became accustomed after reading various comic books. Marsden modeled his performance similar to a Boy Scout. Eric Mabius expressed interest for the role of Cyclops. Angela Bassett was approached to portray Storm in late 1997, as was Janet Jackson. Anna Paquin dropped out of the lead role in Tart in favor of X-Men. Terence Stamp was considered for Magneto before Singer cast Ian McKellen, who acted in his previous film, Apt Pupil. McKellen responded to the gay allegory of the film, "the allegory of the mutants as outsiders, disenfranchised and alone and coming to all of that at puberty when their difference manifests," Singer explained. "Ian is activist and he reality responded to the potential of that allegory." Thomas Jane turned down a role.
The original start date was mid-1999, with the release date set for Christmas 2000, but Fox moved X-Men to June. Steven Spielberg had been scheduled to film Minority Report for release in June 2000, but he had chosen to film A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and Fox needed a film to fill the void. This meant that Singer had to finish X-Men six months ahead of schedule, although filming had been pushed back. The release date was then moved to July 14.
Filming took place from September 22, 1999 to March 3, 2000 in Toronto and in Hamilton, Ontario. Locations included Central Commerce Collegiate, Distillery District and Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. Casa Loma, Roy Thomson Hall and Metro Hall were used for X-Mansion interiors, while Parkwood Estate (located in Oshawa, east of Toronto) was chosen for exteriors. For the train station scenes, Toronto Union Station and Hamilton GO Centre were set. Spencer Smith Park (in Burlington, Ontario) doubled for Liberty Island. A scale model was used for the Statue of Liberty.
Design and effects
The filmmakers decided not to replicate the X-Men costumes as seen in the comic book. Stan Lee and Chris Claremont supported this decision. Claremont joked, "you can do that on a drawing, but when you put it on people it's disturbing!" Producer/co-writer Tom DeSanto had been supportive of using the blue and yellow color scheme of the comics, but once he saw tests of them, he declared, "No, that just doesn't work." Despite receiving positive feedback from various associates at Marvel Comics for the black costume design, fans on the internet still had negative emotions when X-Men was filming. To acknowledge the fan complaints, Singer added Cyclops' line "What would you prefer, yellow spandex?" – when Wolverine complains about wearing their uniforms – during filming. Singer noted that durable black leather made more sense for the X-Men to wear as protective clothing.
Wolverine's claws required a full silicone cast of Hugh Jackman's arm, and 700 versions for Jackman and his stunt doubles. It took nine hours to apply Rebecca Romijn's prosthetic makeup. She could not drink wine, use skin creams, or fly the day before filming, because it could have caused her body chemistry to change slightly, causing the 110 prosthetics applied to her skin fall off. Between takes, the makeup department kept Romijn isolated in a windowless room to ensure secrecy. Romijn reflected, "I had almost no contact with the rest of the cast; it was like I was making a different movie from everyone else. It was hell."
In the late 1990s, computer-generated imagery was becoming more commonly used. Singer visited the sets of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Titanic to understand practical and digital effects. Filming had started without a special effects company hired. Digital Domain, Cinesite, Kleiser-Walczak Construction, Hammerhead Production, Matte World Digital, CORE and POP were all hired in December 1999. Visual effects supervisor Mike Fink admitted to have been dissatisfied with his work on X-Men in 2003, despite nearly being nominated for an Academy Award.
Digital Domain's technical director Sean C. Cunningham and lead compositor Claas Henke morphed Bruce Davison into a liquid figure for Kelly's mutation scene. Cunningham said, "There were many digital layers: water without refraction, water with murkiness, skin with and without highlights, skin with goo in it. When rendered together, it took 39 hours per frame."They considered showing Kelly's internal organs during the transformation, "but that seemed too gruesome", according to Cunningham.
Singer approached John Williams to compose the film score, but Williams turned down the offer because of scheduling conflicts. John Ottman was originally set as composer. Michael Kamen was eventually hired.
- David Hayter, Stan Lee, and Tom DeSanto make cameo appearances. George Buza, the voice of Beast in X-Men: The Animated Series, appeared as the truck driver who drops Rogue off at the bar at which Wolverine works. Gambit was considered for one of the students at the X-Mansion. Singer remembered, "We thought about Gambit as the young boy on the basketball field, but the feeling was that if he has the basketball and then releases it and it exploded, [then] people would be like 'What's wrong with those basketballs?'" A young Colossus appears sketching a picture in one scene.
- The scene at the train station where the young boy smiles at Cyclops, and Cyclops smiles back was unplanned. The boy was a huge fan of the X-Men, and Cyclops was his favorite. The scene originally called for Cyclops to look at the train schedule, however, according to Bryan Singer, the boy could not stop smiling at James Marsden (the actor playing Cyclops). Finally, during one shot, Marsden just looked back at him and smiled, much to the boy's delight. Bryan Singer liked the idea so much, he kept it in the film, and told the actress playing the boy's mother to react the way she did.
- According to Joss Whedon, who made an early draft of the screenplay, only two parts of his draft made it into the final film. The first is the exchange between Wolverine and Cyclops ("It's me." "Prove it!" "You're a dick."); the other is Storm's, "Do you know what happens to a toad when it's struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else." Whedon was disappointed with Halle Berry's over-dramatic delivery of the latter line, which he had imagined as an offhand, casual comment.
- Wolverine's claws required a full silicone cast of Hugh Jackman's arm, and 700 versions for Jackman and his stunt doubles.
- The relatively unspectacular scene where the X-Men leave the X-Jet and hop over a wall to step into the Statue of Liberty caused much hilarity. The reason was that the actors Berry, Janssen, Marsden and Jackman wore such tight fitting costumes that they simply could not make the jump over the small ledge. Another problem was that they were supposed to hold their breath to avoid clouding in the cold weather, a point which Berry forgot at least once. This can be all seen on the blooper reel of the DVD X-Men 1.5.
- During the film, as Logan mocks the X-Men's black uniforms, Cyclops replies: "What would you prefer? Yellow spandex?" This is a reference to Wolverine's blue-and-yellow uniform from the comics.
- At one point in the film, Toad grabs an iron pole and proceeds to twirl it around in a fashion not unlike that of Gambit. In actual fact this was in reference to the Star Wars character Darth Maul, whom actor Park had portrayed in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
- When appearing at Wondercon 2006 to promote Superman Returns (2006), Bryan Singer mentioned that he originally approached composer John Williams to compose the score for X-Men, but Williams was too busy composing the score for Saving Private Ryan (1998).
- In the scene when Senator Kelly emerges from the water at the beach a hot dog vendor that can be seen. The vendor is Stan Lee, the original creator of X-Men. George Buza, the voice of Beast in the X-Men animated series, has a cameo as the truck driver who brought Anna Paquin's Rogue to the bar at the beginning of the film.
- Much of the film was shot at locations in and around Toronto, Ontario. Casa Loma, a local landmark and museum, was used as the set for all above-ground scenes inside Xavier's school. The scenes in Cerebro were filmed in a large soundstage within the downtown CBC building. Hamilton's Liuna Station, a former train station converted into an event hall, stood in for the Westchester train station in the unavailability of Toronto's downtown Union Station. A beach in nearby Oakville was originally intended to serve as the beach where Senator Kelly washes up after his escape from Magneto.
- Although Wolverine is 5'3" in the comic books, Hugh Jackman is 6'3", forcing the other actors to wear platform shoes and stand on risers to compensate.
- Ray Park and Tyler Mane who play Toad and Sabretooth in the movie were signed up for two movies, as is standard in franchise production, but were not in X2 or X3. It is unknown if they will reprise their roles in any future X-Men films.
- A blooper available on the Internet and also in the DVD release as a hidden Easter Egg features a take of Storm, Cyclops and Jean Grey running inside the Statue of Liberty; however, instead of Wolverine following them, the fourth member of the group was someone wearing a Spider-Man costume. When the other three realize this, they (and the crew) burst out laughing.
- Originally Toad was supposed to wear his goggles throughout the whole movie, but he only wears them at the first part he is in. In the beginning when the 20th century fox logo is fading the 'x' stays on just a bit longer.
- In the scene where Wolverine fights Mystique, Hugh jackman really did get kicked in the groin by Rebecca.
- In the scene where Rogue is in class and she gets that ice rose from Bobby, the girl sitting next to her is Jubilee, another X-Men character.
- Stan Lee, creator of X-Men, has a cameo on the beach scene as a hot dog vendor.
- In the shot where security guards in the Statue of Liberty find the body of another guard (actually Mystique's body) with Wolverine's claw marks in the chest, the security guard crouched by the body is in fact X-Men's screenwriter - David Hayter.
- In the scene by the Statue of Liberty where Toad squashes a security guard, that security guard is actually X-Men's executive producer - Tom DeSanto.
- Natalie Portman was offered the role of Jubilee. When she turned the part down, the character was written out of the script.
- The man who plays the guard in the plastic prison cell is David Hayter, the man who wrote the screenplay and the voice of Solid Snake in the Metal Gear Solid game series.
- In the scene where the X-Men are fighting in the Statue of Liberty, Toads wires and harness can be seen due to an editing error.
- Hugh Jackman's film debut.
- Beast was originally meant to be in the movie, but had to be cut due to budget concerns. Though most of his traits, such as being a mutant rights activist and medical expertise, were given to Jean Grey.
- Sir Ian McKellan and Sir Patrick Stewart didn't know how to play chess during the time of filming.
Reactions And Box Office
The film went on to become one of the biggest hits of 2000, taking in more than $296 million worldwide and becoming the 8th highest grossing film, domestically, of that year. The film is also widely credited as being the patriarch of the current "Comic Book Movie Age" that Hollywood is currently experiencing with releases such as, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, The Punisher, Constantine, Batman Begins, V for Vendetta, The Hulk, Superman Returns, Ghost Rider, X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand.
Some fans were not entirely pleased with the first large scale adaptation of the X-Men. Many fans complained about the change in costumes and the overall depiction of Rogue as frightened, naive, and defenseless - even with her powers. Another overall complaint was that the other X-Men, featured so prominently in the comic books, were relegated to playing second fiddle against Wolverine. Many fans felt that Cyclops in particular, the field leader of the X-Men, and his long-term romance with Jean Grey were minimalized to emphasize Wolverine's role in the group, and Wolverine's infatuation with Jean.