No Rogue, more Sentinels: The 5 biggest changes in the original X-Men script
Magneto was almost even more of a badass in the 20-year-old movie.
The 2000 film arguably became the blueprint for a new age of superhero films — from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy to the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. X-Men stands the test of time as a thought-provoking piece of art that's less focused on theatrics than in its realistic story of persecution.
That said, the road to producing X-Men was long and its script went through years of its drafts and rewrites. In 1994, Andrew Kevin Walker (Seven) was brought in to write the script for 20th Century Fox. This version had the same basic premise of the final draft, with Xavier recruiting Wolverine to join the X-Men as they tried to stop Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants.
Further rewrites added that infamous joke about Toad being struck by lightning, which was one of two lines kept in from Joss Whedon’s version of the script. Ed Soloman and Christopher McQuarrie were the last to draft a script for X-Men before the final version was written by David Hayter.
In other words, the script for X-Men went through a lot of changes. So on the movie's 20th anniversary, let's look back at five of the most fascinating scrapped details from Walker’s original script that reveal the superhero movie that almost was.
5. Angel and Beast were a part of the X-Men — Angel and Beast weren’t introduced until X-Men: The Last Stand, with the former getting a brief backstory before showing back up in the final half of the film to help Charles Xavier’s mutant team. Meanwhile, Beast was revealed to be the Secretary of Mutant Affairs.
However, Walker included both characters as members of the X-Men. Angel was even the chairman of his own business, Worthington Industries, while Beast was the resident biochemist and genetic researcher at the mansion. Thankfully, Beast fans got a better portrayal of the character in X-Men: First Class and Days of Future Past.
4. Rogue wasn’t in the movie at all — X-Men's story centers around Rogue after she almost kills her boyfriend by kissing him, runs away from home, and winds up on the road with Wolverine. Their father-daughter bond becomes the emotional core of the movie, so it's hard to imagine X-Men without Anna Paquin's Rogue.
But that's exactly what Walker did. Rogue isn’t in his X-Men script at all, and it wasn’t until director Bryan Singer boarded the project that Rogue was included. It’s worth noting that Storm was also left out of the original script until later drafts, though Rogue had a larger impact on the plot of the final cut.
3. Bolivar Trask and the Sentinels were involved — Bolivar Trask is a supervillain and military scientist famous for his hatred of mutants. He’s also responsible for creating the Sentinels, advanced robots used to hunt, capture, and sometimes kill mutants.
A sentinel appears in X-Men: The Last Stand and Trask is referenced, but neither are formally introduced until X-Men: Days of Future Past. In Walker’s script, however, Trask orders three eight-foot-tall robots to attack Xavier’s mansion. It was supposed to be a pretty big fight, though fitting Magneto and the sentinels into a single movie would have been a lot.
2. The Danger Room — Hidden inside the mansion, the X-Men's high-tech training facility can transform into any setting, giving the heroes a place to practice their powers in a controlled environment. The Danger Room was a big part of the original script, with Iceman even using it to train by avoiding laser beams and trap doors. However, it was dropped in subsequent script rewrites, reportedly due to budget issues, though it did finally appear very briefly in The Last Stand.
1. Magneto was responsible for Chernobyl — Yes, the real-life nuclear incident and subject of HBO’s historical miniseries was originally written as a part of Magneto’s backstory. In Walker’s X-Men script, Xavier tells the story of the 1986 nuclear disaster to the mutant team and also reveals that Chernobyl is the location where he and Magneto first used their powers against each other. It was also during this fight that Xavier was paralyzed.
Blaming Magneto for one of the worst nuclear disasters in history certainly would have given the character an added edge, but Ian McKellen seemed to do just fine without it.
WELCOME TO X-MEN WEEK, INVERSE'S CELEBRATION OF THE FILM THAT KICKED OFF MARVEL'S MOVIE DOMINATION.
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