David Bentley wrote:
TWO unused script treatments for the first X-Men movie, released in 2000, have been revealed online, showing characters, story ideas and details that never made it to the finished film.
It was in 1994 that 20th Century Fox and producer Lauren Shuler Donner bought the film rights to the X-Men from Marvel. At that time, Andrew Kevin Walker was hired to write, and James Cameron expressed interest in directing. Eventually, Bryan Singer signed on to direct in July 1996 and a new set of writers became involved.
The final version of the film credits its screenplay to David Hayter, but many others were involved in the project's journey to the big screen...THE 1996 MICHAEL CHABON TREATMENT
A script treatment
written in July 1996 by Michael Chabon included Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Beast, Iceman, Storm, Wolverine and Jubilee as the X-Men, with Chabon saying this line-up "provides for the greatest degree of contrast of personality...in an ensemble configuration not too different from Star Trek."
Jubilee featured in the 1990s cartoon and had a cameo role in all three movies (left), but she plays a central part in the Chabon script.
Chabon did not include a superpowered villain and said he felt Magneto, Sabretooth and the others could be introduced in a future movie. Instead, Chabon invented a villainous organisation called The League of Gentlemen, headed by a man called Mr Montclair.
The story begins with Wolverine on the run and being shot with a dart from a pursuing helicopter. He runs into the trees, ferociously fights off an attack by a pack of wolves, then collapses. Meanwhile, Jubilee's powers emerge at home and she runs away - she has the ability to emit plasma energy as balls, flashes and streamers of light (see comicbook image below right).
Wolverine and Jubilee are both rescued by the X-Men. They discover Wolverine was shot with a dart containing the Legacy virus (a disease fatal to mutants, featured in the comicbooks) and that he was given his metal claws by the League of Gentlemen and once worked for them as a killer. Jubilee's real parents also worked for the League and her father invented the virus - and secretly programmed a cure into the DNA of his daughter. While Wolverine's healing power holds the virus at bay in his own body, he infects Jean, who in turn infects Iceman.
Beast tries an early cure serum on himself, which ends up mutating him further into his blue, furry version. Later he extracts the proper serum from Jubilee to save Jean and Iceman. Jubilee settles into the mansion and is shown pictures of her real parents; watching enviously, Wolverine then feels the need to go and investigate his own past and identity.
There are some great ideas in this. Rogue obviously replaced Jubilee in the movie. Montclair could easily have been changed into a suitable comicbook character such as the scientist Sinister and the League of Gentlemen could have been changed to a comicbook organisation.THE 1999 ED SOLOMAN/CHRISTOPHER MCQUARRIE SCRIPT
A script treatment written in February 1999 by Soloman and McQuarrie begins with the same Magneto prison camp scene seen in the released film, but then includes an origin scene for Storm, set in Kenya in 1972, in which the 12-year-old mutant brings huge hailstones down on to a mob of bullies and almost destroys her village. The draft
continues with an origin scene for Cyclops, set in California in 1986, when his powers emerge from his eyes just before a school prom.
Then, at the Senate hearing, Jean Grey gives a far more detailed explanation of why these bizarre mutations are happening: mankind hasn't evolved for thousands of years, instead altering his environment to suit him, but dramatic changes to the Earth mean humankind can no longer keep up. As a result, a dormant evolution gene has switched itself back on, enabling people to begin adapting to their world. The emerging mutants are merely the first signs of change that will one day affect the entire human race.
There's no scene with Wolverine fighting in a bar, but we do get a fantastic visceral fight with Sabretooth before the intervention of Storm (left) and Cyclops.
Senator Kelly meets the President, unsuccessfully arguing for urgent action against mutants. Back at Xavier's mansion, we meet Beast; and Rogue is already there (with no origin sequence in Mississippi as in the actual film, although her deadly first kiss from the finished movie is mentioned later).
We see Cyclops and Wolverine in the Danger Room with Jean Grey in the room's control booth. Here, the Danger Room is not a hologram chamber as it was when it finally appeared in the third X-movie; instead, it contains various mechanical devices, traps and missiles, like the comicbook version.
Kelly is still taken to Magneto's island lair. The mutation machine uses adamantium as a conductor (in much the same way as the metal filament in a lightbulb) and, although Magneto has a small amount for the first use of the machine, he needs Wolverine to power it with the adamantium grafted to his skeleton. Magneto, whose real name is Max in this draft and whose associates include Blob (main picture at top) and Pyro, tells Kelly: "What if you could breathe pure carbon monoxide, Senator? The kind your fellow man is pumping straight into the atmosphere as we speak? Fly above the water that might one day cover the face of the Earth, or swim faster than any fish in the sea? Would you consider yourself a freak of nature? Or would you just consider yourself prepared for the future?"
After he is mutated into a gelatinous form, Kelly escapes, stinging Blob like a jellyfish. He doesn't swim to shore and go to Xavier's mansion the same way as in the finished movie - instead he emerges from the toilet bowl in the mansion!
The movie's train station attack here takes place in a shopping mall, where Toad has the power to change his skin pigmentation to camouflage himself against any background. After that, Magneto attacks the X-Men at the mansion, trapping Jean Grey by surrounding her with levitating metal implements and capturing Wolverine in a metal cabinet resembling an 'iron maiden' medieval torture device.
At the Statue of Liberty, Wolverine is strapped into the machine as its power conductor. He breaks free and fights Sabretooth. Toad and Pyro die gruesomely, Magneto tries to escape and is attacked by Storm, Jean, Beast and Cyclops, but he fights back and pins them down with strips of metal (as seen in a similar scene in the finished film). Rogue absorbs Mystique's shapeshifting power and, in the guise of Mystique, is able to get close to Magneto and kiss him to drain his lifeforce.
The president vetoes the mutant registration act on a news bulletin as Wolverine tries on a new X-Men uniform and is welcomed to the mansion. And the final chess scene with Magneto and Xavier is there but is fuller and longer.
There's some great characterisation and explanation in this - often much deeper than in the finished film - and the environmental theme of emerging mutation as the key to man's survival on a planet he is destroying is excellent. It's easy to see why Rogue's more emotional role, in being a vulnerable teenager needed by Magneto to power the machine, was added for the movie, even though the version of Rogue in this early script is more accurate.
Both scripts contain some great ideas and it's a shame more of them didn't make it on to celluloid. Perhaps any future X-Men movies can try to include some of these unused ideas.