Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Bryan Singer|
|Screenplay by||David Hayter|
by Jack Kirby
|Music by||Michael Kamen|
|Cinematography||Newton Thomas Sigel|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||104 minutes|
X-Men is a 2000 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name, distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is the first installment in the X-Men film series. The film directed by Bryan Singer, written by David Hayter, and features an ensemble cast that includes Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Anna Paquin, Famke Janssen, Bruce Davison, James Marsden, Halle Berry, Rebecca Romijn, Ray Park and Tyler Mane. It depicts a world in which a small proportion of people are mutants, whose possession of superhuman powers makes them distrusted by normal humans. The film focuses on the mutants Wolverine and Rogue as they are brought into a conflict between two groups that have radically different approaches to bringing about the acceptance of mutantkind: Professor Xavier's X-Men, and the Brotherhood of Mutants, led by Magneto.
Development for X-Men began as far back as 1989 with James Cameron and Carolco Pictures. The film rights went to 20th Century Fox in 1994. Scripts and film treatments were commissioned from Andrew Kevin Walker, John Logan, Joss Whedon and Michael Chabon. Singer signed to direct in 1996, with further rewrites by Ed Solomon, Singer, Tom DeSanto, Christopher McQuarrie and David Hayter. Start dates kept getting pushed back, while Fox decided to move X-Men's release date from December to July 2000. Filming took place from September 22, 1999 to March 3, 2000, primarily in Toronto. X-Men was released to positive reviews and was a financial success, starting the X-Men film franchise and spawning a reemergence of superhero films.
In 1944 German-occupied Poland, a 13-year-old Erik Lehnsherr is separated from his parents upon entry to a concentration camp. In attempting to reach them, he causes a set of gates to bend towards him, as though attracted by a magnetic force. Decades later, in the not too distant future, Senator Robert Kelly attempts to pass a "Mutant Registration Act" in Congress which would force mutants to publicly reveal their identities and abilities. Present are Lehnsherr, now known as Magneto, and the telepathic Professor Charles Xavier, who privately discuss their differing viewpoints on the relationship between humans and mutants.
In Meridian, Mississippi, 17-year-old Marie D'Ancanto accidentally puts her boyfriend into a coma upon kissing him which was caused by her unknown superhuman ability to absorb the life force and mutant abilities of anyone she touches. In fear that she is harmful, Marie, now going by the name of Rogue, runs away to Laughlin City, Alberta. While at a bar, she meets Logan, an amateur fighter known as "Wolverine", who also possesses superhuman healing abilities, heightened senses, and metal claws that extend outwards from between his knuckles. While on the road together, both of them are attacked by Sabretooth, a fellow mutant and an associate of Magneto. Cyclops and Storm arrive and save Wolverine and Rogue, and bring them to the X-Mansion in Westchester County, New York. They are introduced to Xavier, who leads a group of mutants called the X-Men, who are trying to seek peace with the human race, educate young mutants in the responsible use of their powers, and stop Magneto from escalating the war with humanity.
Senator Kelly is abducted by Magneto's allies Toad and the shapeshifter Mystique and brought to their lair. Magneto uses Kelly as test subject of a machine that artificially induces mutation. Kelly uses his new mutant abilities to escape imprisonment. After an accident causes Rogue to use her powers on Wolverine, she is convinced by Mystique (disguised as classmate Bobby Drake) that Xavier is angry with her and that she should leave the school. Xavier uses his mutant-locating machine Cerebro to find 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. Kelly arrives at Xavier's school, shortly before dying due to the instability of his artificial mutation. The X-Men learn that Magneto was severely weakened in the test of the machine on Kelly, and realize that he intends to use Rogue's power-transferring ability so that she can power the machine in his place, putting her life at risk. Xavier attempts to use Cerebro to locate Rogue, but Mystique's sabotage causes him to fall into a coma. Fellow telepath Jean Grey fixes and uses Cerebro, learning that Magneto plans to place his mutation-inducing machine on Liberty Island and use it to mutate the world leaders meeting for a summit on nearby Ellis Island.
The X-Men scale the Statue of Liberty, defeating Toad and incapacitating Mystique, before Magneto and Sabretooth incapacitate the group and continue with their plans. Magneto transfers his powers to Rogue, forcing her to use them to start the machine. Wolverine escapes and defeats Sabretooth. Storm uses her weather-controlling powers and Jean her telekinesis to lift Wolverine to the top of Magneto's machine. Wolverine saves Rogue when Cyclops knocks out Magneto, and destroys the machine. Wolverine touches the dying Rogue's face, and his regenerative abilities are transferred to her, causing her to recover.
Professor Xavier recovers from his coma. The group learns that Mystique is still alive, and impersonating Senator Kelly. Xavier tells Wolverine that near where he was found in Canada is an abandoned military base that might contain information about his past. Xavier visits Magneto in a prison cell constructed entirely of plastic, and the two play chess (Xavier seems to have the upper hand). Magneto warns that he will continue his fight, to which Xavier promises that he and the X-Men will always be there to stop him. As Xavier is being taken away from the prison by a guard, Magneto pushes his king chess piece over.
- A tough, rugged, belligerent loner who makes a living in cage fights. He has lived for fifteen years without memory of who he is, apart from his dog tags marked "Wolverine" and an adamantium-encased skeleton (as well as adamantium claws). He has enhanced, animal-like senses, enabling him to sense other people, and the ability to heal rapidly from numerous injuries, including the surgery that bonded the metal to his skeleton, which makes his age impossible to determine.
- Founder of the X-Men and the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, Xavier hopes for peaceful coexistence between mutantkind and mankind and is regarded as an authority on genetic mutation. Although he is restricted to a wheelchair, he is a powerful mutant with vast telepathic abilities. Along with Magneto, he is the inventor of the Cerebro supercomputer, which further amplifies his abilities.
- A Holocaust survivor, he and Xavier were once friends, and they built Cerebro together. However, his belief that humans and mutants could never co-exist led to their separation. He has powerful magnetic abilities and a sophisticated knowledge in matters of genetic manipulation, which he uses to plan a mutation of the world leaders to allow mutant prosperity.
- Brett Morris as Young Magneto
- She works as a teacher at the X-Mansion and has the ability to manipulate the weather. Ororo has become bitter with other people's hatred for mutants, and while comforting a dying Senator Kelly says that she sometimes hates humans, but mostly because she is afraid of them.
- She is in a relationship with Cyclops and works as the doctor of the X-Mansion. She has the powers of telekinesis. She also has powers of telepathy like Xavier, although her powers are much less advanced than that of his, displayed when she is stunned by the usage of Cerebro.
- He rescues Wolverine and Rogue from a truck explosion, taking them to safety to the X-Mansion, where they live. He is the second-in-command of the X-Men and is the team's field leader when they are out on missions as well as an instructor at the Institute. He is in love with Jean Grey and has a relationship with her. He produces a strong red beam of force from his eyes, which is only held in check by sunglasses. In combat, he uses a specialized ruby-quartz visor, which also enables him to control the strength of the beam to fire.
- A seventeen-year-old girl forced to leave her home in Mississippi when she puts her boyfriend into a coma by kissing him. If she touches anyone she absorbs their memories and life force, and, in the case of mutants, absorbs their powers as well. While at the Xavier Academy she begins a romance with Bobby Drake.
- Magneto's loyal second-in-command, her mutant ability to alter her shape and mimic any human being is almost secondary to her role as "the perfect soldier". She is an agile fighter, expert martial artist, and seems completely facile with respect to modern technology.
- A ferocious, feline-like fighter who attacks Wolverine and Rogue in Canada before being stopped by Storm and Cyclops. He is a brutal and sadistic henchman of Magneto, and wields claws extending past each finger.
- An anti-mutant politician that supports a Mutant Registration Act and wishes to ban mutant children from schools. He is kidnapped by Magneto in a test of his mutation machine, which causes his body to turn into a liquid-like substance.
- A very agile fighter with a menacing streak and a long, prehensile tongue, who can also spit a slimy substance onto others. He also has quick, toad-like abilities to move.
- A student at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters who takes a liking to Rogue. He can change temperatures to subzero degrees and use the moisture in the air to create ice.
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 fights. Other cameo appearances include Sumela Kay as Kitty Pryde, Katrina Florece as Jubilee and a young Colossus sketching a picture in one scene. 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?'" The success of X-Men (alongside Blade) started a reemergence for the comic book and superhero film genre.
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 recruiting 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, Juggernaut 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. 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. Whedon's draft heavily featured the Danger Room, and concluded with Jean Grey dressed as the Phoenix. According to Entertainment Weekly, this screenplay was rejected because of its "quick-witted pop culture-referencing tone", and the finished film contained only two dialogue exchanges that Whedon had contributed. 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 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 really responded to the potential of that allegory."
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. This estate was also the mansion in Billy Madison. 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 came to conclude that they would not work onscreen. 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, and Shuler Donner added that the costumes helped them "blend into the night".
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 to 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, but Michael Kamen was eventually hired.
On June 1, 2000, Marvel published a comic book prequel to X-Men, entitled X-Men: Beginnings, revealing the backstories of Magneto, Rogue and Wolverine. There was also a comic book adaptation based on the film.
A console video game was released on July 6, 2000 featuring costumes and other materials from the film. It received mixed to positive reviews from critics.
Marvel Studios was depending on X-Men's success to ignite other franchise properties (Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Hulk and Daredevil). X-Men was released in 3,025 theaters in North America on July 14, 2000, earning $54,471,475 in its opening weekend. The film eventually grossed $157,299,717 and made $139,039,810 in other countries, coming to a worldwide total of $296,339,527. X-Men was the ninth highest-grossing film of 2000. The film made over $50 million in home video sales.
Kenneth Turan found "so much is happening you feel the immediate need of a sequel just as a reward for absorbing it all. While X-Men doesn't take your breath away wire-to-wire the way The Matrix did, it's an accomplished piece of work with considerable pulp watchability to it." ReelReviews.net's James Berardinelli, an X-Men comic book fan, believed, "the film is effectively paced with a good balance of exposition, character development, and special effects-enhanced action. Neither the plot nor the character relationships are difficult to follow, and the movie avoids the trap of spending too much time explaining things that don't need to be explained. X-Men fandom is likely to be divided over whether the picture is a success or a failure". Desson Thomson of The Washington Post commented, "[T]he movie's enjoyable on the surface, but I suspect many people, even die-hards, will be less enthusiastic about what lies, or doesn't, underneath".
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said he "started out liking this movie, while waiting for something really interesting to happen. When nothing did, I still didn't dislike it; I assume the X-Men will further develop their personalities if there is a sequel, and maybe find time to get involved in a story. No doubt fans of the comics will understand subtle allusions and fine points of behavior; they should linger in the lobby after each screening to answer questions." He also gave it a "thumbs down" on Ebert & Roeper. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone noted, "Since it's Wolverine's movie, any X-Men or Women who don't hinge directly on his story get short shrift. As Storm, Halle Berry can do neat tricks with weather, but her role is gone with the wind. It sucks that Stewart and McKellen, two superb actors, are underused."
The film was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, but lost to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. X-Men was successful at the Saturn Awards. It won categories for Best Science Fiction Film, direction (Singer), writing (David Hayter), costume design, Best Actor (Hugh Jackman) and Supporting Actress (Rebecca Romijn). Nominations included Performance by a Younger Actor (Anna Paquin), Supporting Actor (Patrick Stewart), Special Effects and Make-up. Empire readers voted Singer Best Director.
X-Men was released on DVD and VHS by 20th Century Fox in 2006 titled X-Men 1.5. The DVD includes the theatrical version of the film plus several special features including: The "VHS" release was limited and is now no longer available as of 2011.
- Deleted scenes
- "The Mutant Watch" featurette
- Excerpts from Bryan Singer interview on The Charlie Rose Show
- Hugh Jackman's screen test
- Still photo gallery
- TV spots
X-Men was released on Blu-ray in April 2009, followed by a release of a Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo version in May 2011. The combo version includes the DVD extras as well as additional Blu-ray extras:
- Commentary by Brian Singer and Brian Peck on 10+ scenes
- Extended scenes
- Blooper easter eggs
- Fox special: "The Mutant Watch"
- Bryan Singer interview
- Animatic "Liberty Head" and "Train Station"
- Art gallery
- 3 TV spots
- Music promo
- Marvel Universe trailers: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men, X2: X-Men United, Daredevil, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Fantastic Four
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