At some point in the last six months, you've sat in a theater watching a terrible movie that took $200 million to make and said to yourself, "Why the hell did they ever think this would be good?"
The reason is that lots of bad movies looked like good movies in the early stages. It takes a whole bunch of people to make a movie, and often the finished product is only as good as its shittiest element. That messy process is how we wound up with ...
6X-Men: The Last Stand
X-Men: The Last Stand was the unforgivable follow-up to X2. We say "unforgivable" because the second X-Men movie was widely regarded as one of the greatest superhero flicks of all time, if just for one scene.
You know, the stabbing scene.
Yet, despite coming hard on the heels of that success and boasting a larger budget than most nations' militaries, The Last Stand somehow managed to spit in the face of just about everything the X-Men franchise had going for it. Everyone's favorite characters from the first two films were either killed off, depowered, reduced to cheap gags or, in Nightcrawler's case, completely left out.
"Audiences just can't root for a blue protagonist."
If you followed the debacle that was the third X-Men movie, you probably blame Twentieth Century Fox or the departure of director Bryan Singer. But the truth is that all the film's problems can be traced to one equally bad movie that steered both franchises into a kryptonite iceberg faster than a speeding bullet.
Nice work, dickface.
Singer left The Last Stand in July 2004 to direct Superman Returns, but also brought with him two of X2's screenwriters, his longtime editor/composer John Ottman and actor James "Cyclops" Marsden. Fox had no choice but to step in and make sure their dismembered picture beat Superman to the finish line over James Marsden's dead body.
Which it did.
The Awesome Movie We Missed Out On:
If you're not a comics geek, that is an issue from one of the greatest story lines ever: "The Dark Phoenix Saga." And, sure enough, this was precisely where Bryan Singer wanted the third movie to pick up from, as it was exactly where X2 left off.
According to X2 screenwriter Michael Dougherty, The Last Stand was supposed to come off as a goddamn monster movie: "The idea was that you open up with Alkali Lake but it's completely barren and dried up and there are these odd reports of strange phenomena going on around the world accompanied by bright lights in the sky." You know, such as ships getting torn in two ...
... and San Francisco getting fucking destroyed:
Instead of being shoved into the corner like Jennifer Grey, the second coming of Jean Grey/Phoenix was supposed to be heralded as if "a very god-like force had entered their reality ... causing disruptions around the world." In nerd terms, instead of X-Men: The Last Stand, you would have gotten X-Men: The Best Movie Ever, with a three-way war for control of Phoenix between the X-Men, Magneto's Brotherhood and the same Hellfire Club that would eventually be recycled into X-Men: First Class.
And someone traded that film for Superman Returns.
At long last, Superman fans can watch his son play piano.
Coming off the disastrous Alien 3, the development of Alien: Resurrection actually started off in the most promising way possible. The studio asked the up-and-coming screenwriter Joss Whedon to resurrect the franchise from the dreary and slow third film. Whedon's then-credits included Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Speed, and he would shortly thereafter get nominated for an Academy Award for Toy Story.
However, the decision to kill Ripley off in Alien 3 and the prospects for a short-lived Alien vs. Predator franchise severely tied Whedon's hands for the project, particularly when it came to all things Ripley. The studio suggested that they just clone her back in. Whedon did what they said, at which point it was suggested that he add some more clones.
Above: The difference between "horror" and "horrible."
Things kind of went downhill from there.
The Awesome Movie We Missed Out On:
First of all, let's go back one movie in the series. Check out the original, hilariously misleading teaser trailer for Alien 3.
Yep, it promised that the aliens would be showing up on Earth. A few dozen drafts of the screenplay later, it wound up taking place on a remote asteroid prison with a lonely, dog-shaped alien.
So Whedon's original draft of the next film (which you can find on the Internet) included the climax that so many of us anticipated for the Alien series: an "epic final battle on Earth, for Earth."
Leading up to that was a huge soldiers vs. aliens battle on board a massive ship that is slowly crashing toward Earth. Then a new, much more terrifying alien is born and starts wreaking havoc ... and no, it's not the weird-ass human/alien hybrid thing that made it into the film.
Which promptly started tonguing Ripley.
Here's how Whedon described it in the screenplay:
"An alien, to be sure, but nothing we've seen so far, its forelegs arch out of its back like spiders legs, its back legs set on enormous haunches, thick and powerful. Its head is long, eyeless, like the others, but along its white expanse red veins, coming out of the skin and running like thick black hairs to the back. It has retracted pincers at the side of head that come out when its tongue does. It's much bigger than the others, nearly the size of the queen herself.
And it's bone white."
So pretty much not that.
Then we see it in action:
"It LEAPS up to the ceiling in a second, quick and effortless as a monstrous flea. [It] leaps again and lands on the screaming soldier ... pincers SWING out and pin either side of his head. His eyes go wide as:
Its tongue SHOOTS into his throat. We watch it drain the blood from his body. We can see it, see its stomach swell, red tinged, as his body goes blue and slack."
"OK, that all sounds good, but we're going to just give you this instead."
So then the ship crashes on Earth, and Ripley and Call (Winona Ryder's character) are forced to do battle with this horrific new alien before it can go on a rampage through Earth's population.
As you know if you've seen the movie, virtually all of this was cut, for budget reasons. As for what was left, as Whedon puts it:
"I don't remember writing, 'A withered, granny-lookin' Pumkinhead-kinda-thing makes out with Ripley.' Pretty sure that stage direction never existed in any of my drafts."
Not that Whedon has ever had an issue ratcheting up the creep factor.