Twenty years after the very first broadcast X-Men, part of the team celebrated the revolutionary aspect of the first modern superhero film.
Hard to imagine today that at one time, not so long ago, superheroes were not used to taking the box office hostage, as has been the case since the advent of the MCU . When it was created in the late 90s, X-Men is absolutely innovative since superheroes adapted from comics until then – Blade not included – were totems either from DC Comics, Batman and Superman, or Marvel with Captain America. The mutant group will therefore help put Marvel on the international film scene for good.
Paving the way for other great superheroic masses (cuckoo Avengers and others Justice League), X-Men has also become an emblematic franchise, with a dozen feature films (including the special case Logan). So much so that we sometimes forget that the film could have been very different.
Mystical, devastated by the idea of getting old
Twenty years ago, there was no question of offering too large a budget to a “small” superhero film. While the latest adventures of Avengers benefited from a colossal budget of more than 350 million dollars, the directors of X-Men had to “settle for” a trifle of 75 million (they will have collected almost 300 million at the world box office).
In this regard, Famke Janssen, the interpreter of Jean Gray detailed at the microphone of Observer, the way in which this tightly controlled budget has affected the constant evolution of a hybrid shoot, between war machine and amateurism:
“We were doing something completely new with X-Men. It was an interesting experience because even though we were making a very big film, at the time, we didn’t feel like it. on some days when we were going to film on these gigantic sets which had required a lot of time. But the way in which the scenario was developed, the changes which continued during the shooting and the way in which we moved a little blindly … it just looked different. “
Famke Janssen, propelled on an amateur shoot?
It must be said that such a meeting of extraterrestrial vigilantes without the presence of a tutelary charismatic figure (like the DC headliners) could seem a risky bet at the time. Observer recalled that as early as the 1980s, a screenplay project could not be put into images when the Orion Pictures studios came close to bankruptcy (the first time, they were then bought by MGM in the 1990s).
Later, when they sold their rights, Stan Lee and Chris Claremont tried to sponsor their own adaptation, under the aegis of the production company of James Cameron and the director Kathryn Bigelow (still the only woman to have received the Oscar for best achievement). Finally, it’s Bryan Singer (Ennemi Public, Usual Suspects) who was chosen to direct a film based on the script by David Hayter.
Patrick Stewart, delighted to be in a wheelchair
It is not the only failed casting attempt. Producer Ralph Winter told Observer that before filming, he constantly received calls from different Hollywood stars who would have liked to become mutants in turn:
“I have a lot of fond memories of people calling me to be in the film. Michael Jackson was a comic book fan and he wanted to be Charles Xavier. Shaquille O’Neal came to the office once, he wanted to play Forge, who was not in the film. […] Every day, I was surprised by the heads that landed. Like, I found Mariah Carey sitting in my office, who wanted to talk to Bryan to get the role of Storm or something. It’s still just as shocking. “
The King of Pop and the diva among X-Men ? The film would have been very different, for sure. Initially, the director also wanted Charlize Theron to play the phoenix Jean Gray, after his appearance in My friend Joe, or even in The Devil’s Associate. According to Observer, he even went to Canada to convince her to join the team, before the South African actress finally refuses to play the mutant.
Before True Blood, Anna Paquin was full of mischief
Finally, the casting team chose a more discreet group of actors, including an Australian theater actor (Hugh Jackman), a Dutch James Bond girl (Famke Janssen) and an Oscar-winning child actress who is not yet out of adolescence (Anna Paquin).
When it was first broadcast, X-Men met with great success allowing the development of superheroic universes as we know them today. Right now, eight of the films in the franchise are available on the Disney + platform, the first including. If you do not have a subscription, but you can not do without content on the universe of X-Men, you can always find our review of the founding film as well as our ranking of films in the saga, from the worst at the best.
And this is how the X-Men entered history