4 Bizarre Ways 'X-Men' Movies Almost Doomed Themselves
The X-Men, the most well-known team of mutants that doesn’t play pro sports in Philadelphia. Now that Disney owns the keys to the Xavier mansion, we expect to get a full-fledged reboot any day now, as recent Marvel projects have hinted at. Hopefully, the new batch of X-Men movies goes a tad smoother than the previous series, since the production of the decades-spanning franchise was often as rocky as a one-night stand with The Thing, for instance …
The X-Men And X2 Sets Were Full Of Accidents And Alleged Crimes
The idea of an X-Men movie had been kicking around Hollywood for years; but while earlier plans to produce a feature film in which Wolverine turns evil after being “seduced” by the villain, before eventually murdering her inside of a giant stone nostril (don’t ask) never materialized, finally the iconic superhero characters made it to the big screen in the year 2000, directed by Bryan Singer, then most famous for The Usual Suspects – and later famous for … not great reasons.
Singer has subsequently been accused of sexual assault by multiple parties, and more recent reporting has revealed that the set of X-Men was a nightmare to work on. For one thing, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Singer allegedly “dangled X-Men auditions and roles in exchange for sex” with young men. And, horrifically, the actor who played Pyro “filed a civil suit four months after production wrapped, claiming that he was raped by three of Singer’s friends and business associates.”
Behind the scenes, there were also reportedly “tantrums” and “drug use,” but still Singer delivered a hit movie, so the studio “accommodated” his demands on the second movie. According to one executive, in doing so, they “created a monster.” The set of X2 was even more fraught; at one point a fight between Singer and his producer, Tom DeSanto actually shut down production.
According to THR’s sources, this happened after DeSanto found out that “Singer was incapacitated after taking a narcotic” as were some crew members, and he became worried that “someone on set could be injured.” Which … happened. A “botched stunt” injured Hugh Jackman, and the stunt coordinator wasn’t present, because the scene was scheduled “to be shot the following day.” So DeSanto used his authority to halt the production.
Incredibly, the studio took Singer’s side in the argument and ordered DeSanto off the set, forcing the cast members to “confront” Singer in his trailer, “threatening to quit” if the producer left – all while wearing their superhero costumes. Although representatives for Singer deny that this ever happened, some accounts claim that Halle Berry told Singer “You can kiss my Black ass,” presumably while dressed in badass leather onesie complete with a cape.
X-Men: The Last Stand – The Studio Gutted The Story And Hired Another Creepy Director
If the third movie in the X-Men series, X-Men: The Last Stand, seems like a confounding mish-mash of half-baked stories, well there’s a good reason for that. Bryan Singer left the project as director – not because he was fired for (gestures to above paragraphs) but because he got the chance to direct (and ruin) a Superman movie. Originally, his replacement was going to be Matthew Vaughan (who later directed X-Men: First Class) and the movie was going to focus on telling the beloved “Dark Phoenix” storyline from the comics.
But after Vaughan left the project, the studio worried that the storyline that wowed X-Men comic fans was “a bit too dark for a mainstream summer blockbuster.” So they shoehorned another storyline into the script about a mutant “cure” based on a Joss Whedon comic arc. Which meant that neither story felt fully explored, and the result was a mess that future movies just ignored as if it were the Daniel to the X-Men’s Baldwin family.
Making matters worse, the movie was ultimately helmed by Brett Ratner, who also would be accused of sexual misconduct following his X-Men work. According to Elliot Page, Ratner even made derogatory, homophobic comments while making The Last Stand, leaving him feeling “violated.”
X-Men: Apocalypse – Oscar Isaac Was Miserable And The Director Routinely Disappeared
The series appeared to be well past its sell-by date by the time X-Men: Apocalypse rolled around – but at least it had a new villain, played by acclaimed young actor Oscar Isaac. Unfortunately, the role called for one of Hollywood’s most promising stars to dress up like the lead in H.R. Giger’s Smurfs reboot.
Isaac later admitted that the experience was “excruciating” since he spent the whole shoot “encased in glue, latex, and a 40-pound suit” and "had to wear a cooling mechanism at all times." And while he took the gig to hang out with actors like Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender, he had to spend his off-hours sitting on a “specially designed saddle” and had to be “rolled into a cooling tent in between takes.”
And because everyone deserves a second – or apparently 500th – chance, Bryan Singer was back as the director. According to co-star Olivia Munn, Singer kept disappearing for mysterious medical reasons, despite the fact that Montreal (where the film was being made) had no shortage of doctors. Weirder still, he would just randomly bolt from the set, and instruct the actors to “just go ahead and start filming without me” via text message. And reportedly if “challenged about his behavior, he sometimes cried.” This problematic trend apparently continued on the set Bohemian Rhapsody, which Singer was somehow still hired to direct – possibly just because his last name was a descriptor of its subject.
Test Audiences Literally Laughed At Dark Phoenix
The final film in the, admittedly extremely confusing, original X-Men continuity was Dark Phoenix, a second attempt to tell the story that was so hopelessly bungled back in The Last Stand. So who did Fox hire to direct? Simon Kinberg, one of the co-writers of The Last Stand. Yup, despite the fact that his resume literally included screwing up a movie adaption of the “Dark Phoenix” story, this guy got the Dark Phoenix job.
Unfortunately, according to The Hollywood Reporter, it seems as though the studio “learned the wrong lessons” from the tepid reaction to X-Men: Apocalypse, with executives reportedly believing that “the movie’s failure had been due to an excessive amount of explosions and scale, not due to franchise fatigue generally.” So with the mistaken notion that Apocalypse’s big problem was its grandiosity (and not literally everything else) Fox decided to dial back Dark Phoenix. And the results … were not good.
In addition to the fact that none of the X-Men characters seemed to age at all between the early 1960s, when First Class takes place, and the early 1990s when Dark Phoenix takes place, what was supposed to be one of the most dramatic scenes in the movie literally elicited laughter. According to reports, test audiences actually chuckled at the death of Mystique.
Which possibly contributed to the excessive reshoots, which delayed the movie and ballooned its budget to around $200 million – helping it become the “biggest box office flop of 2019.” Thankfully, it’s entirely possible that all of these awful stories merely exist as crappy comics inside the Logan-verse.
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Thumbnail: 20th Century Studios