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10 Things About James Cameron’s Unrealized X-Men Movie

James Cameron is responsible for some of the most popular movies ever made — including two that broke the record for highest-grossing movie of all time (and one that broke that record twice) — but he hasn’t been able to get all of his projects off the ground. During the development of any movie, the tiniest problem could cause the project to fall through and never see the light of day.

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Even the most seasoned filmmakers can fall victim to the Hollywood machine, and Cameron is no exception. In the 1980s, he began developing an X-Men movie that never came to fruition.

10 Development Began In 1984

Although X-Men didn’t make it to screens until 2000, a live-action adaptation of the mutants’ comic book adventures began development way back in 1984 with executives at Orion Pictures.

In 1989, after half a decade of development, the project was brought to James Cameron, who became attached as a producer and spearheaded the effort to acquire funding from a major studio.

9 It Was Called Wolverine And The X-Men

After the release of Fox’s first X-Men movie in 2000, the studio realized that Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine was the franchise’s most popular character and put him front and center in the sequels before giving him his own solo trilogy.

But James Cameron recognized that Wolvie would be the star long before Fox’s market research, as he planned to call his own X-Men movie Wolverine and the X-Men.

8 Cameron Was Brought On Because Of The Success Of Aliens

The reason Marvel got in touch with James Cameron was because Aliens had just come out, so he was the hottest, most sought-after director in Hollywood — especially for sci-fi and action, which is Marvel’s cup of tea.

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Presumably, Cameron had his pick of Hollywood directing jobs after making a sequel to Alien that not only satisfied fans but stood out as an instant classic in its own right. His next film ended up being 1989’s The Abyss.

7 Bob Hoskins Was Cast As Wolverine

From his portrayal of a tough-as-nails crime boss in The Long Good Friday to his zany performance as a put-upon private eye in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Bob Hoskins earned a reputation throughout his career as a revered actor with plenty of range. He was attached to play Wolverine in James Cameron’s unproduced X-Men movie.

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While Fox eventually went with the tall, chiseled Hugh Jackman for the role of Wolverine, Hoskins’ physicality was more in line with the character’s short, stout visage in the comics.

6 Kathryn Bigelow Was Set To Direct

James Cameron didn’t intend to direct Wolverine and the X-Men; he was just going to produce, while the director’s chair was offered to Kathryn Bigelow, who was his wife at the time.

In 2010, Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director for her work on The Hurt Locker, which also won Best Picture at the same ceremony. Funnily enough, in both categories, the movie was up against Cameron’s own Avatar.

5 Cameron Was In Direct Contact With Stan Lee

Since the rights to the X-Men had reverted back to Marvel by the time Cameron boarded the movie adaptation, the filmmaker wasn’t in discussions with studio executives who picked up a hot intellectual property; he was in discussions with the comic book legends who created it.

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In 1989, Stan Lee and Chris Claremont — the writer with the longest stint on the Uncanny X-Men series, spanning 17 years — entered discussions with Cameron about a potential X-Men movie.

4 The Producers Wanted Marvel To Bring Back Jean Grey For The Movie

Cameron wanted to include Jean Grey in his X-Men movie because she’s one of the Marvel universe’s most crucial mutants and her emotional attachments to Wolverine and Cyclops – not to mention the Phoenix storyline – give her plenty of fascinating conflicts.

However, Jean was dead in the contemporary Marvel canon, thanks to the events of “The Dark Phoenix Saga.” Chris Claremont even contacted then-Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter to discuss reviving Jean in time for her inclusion in the movie.

3 Angela Bassett Was Attached To Play Storm

While Cameron sought Bob Hoskins for the role of Wolverine, Angela Bassett was attached to play Storm in his X-Men movie. Bassett never got to play Storm, but she has since started playing Black Panther’s stepmother in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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The role of Storm eventually went to Halle Berry when the movie resurfaced in 2000, and she did a phenomenal job with the character, giving Jackman’s Wolvie a run for his money.

2 The Script Was Written By Gary Goldman

In addition to being an accomplished director and producer, James Cameron is a gifted screenwriter who has penned the scripts for many of his most acclaimed films, from The Terminator to Aliens. But he wasn’t planning to write Wolverine and the X-Men himself.

Instead, Gary Goldman was tapped to provide a screenplay. Goldman was no stranger to telling action-oriented stories, having gotten his big break writing John Carpenter’s supernatural martial arts comedy Big Trouble in Little China.

1 The Project Was Scrapped When Cameron Moved On To An R-Rated Spider-Man Movie

Cameron’s X-Men movie was in trouble when the studio backing it, Carolco, hit a financial rough patch. The final nail in Wolverine and the X-Men’s coffin was hammered in when Stan Lee turned Cameron’s interests to an R-rated Spider-Man movie that was also ultimately unrealized.

Throughout the late ’90s, 20th Century Fox began work on its own X-Men movie and revolutionized the genre in 2000 with a movie that proved superhero films could be viable blockbusters.

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