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X-Position: An X-Men Podcast #5 - X-Men (2000)

We interrupt our regular programming for the first of several periodic check-ins with the X-Men's exploits on the silver screen! This "show within a show" begins with 2000's X-MEN - the movie that put comic book adaptations back on the map.

Apropos of the concept itself, X-MEN's path to a theatrical debut was long and hard-fought. Plans to translate the series to film can be traced back to the early '80s, with comics creators Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas collaborating on a prospective screenplay for Orion Pictures. After Orion folded, subsequent efforts would invite interest from the likes of Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron for Carolco Pictures. Carolco's bankruptcy saw the rights revert to Marvel, and development stalled for years with the company unable to make the case for their successful comics franchise.

However, impressed with the X-Men's unexpected Saturday morning dominance for Fox's children's television division, producer Lauren Shuler Donner thought it only made sense to option the property for 20th Century Fox's live action slate in 1994. The next two years brought drafts and treatments by 'SEVEN' screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, author Michael Chabon, and filmmaker Ed Solomon. The studio considered Brett Ratner, Robert Rodriguez, and Paul W.S. Anderson, but it was Bryan Singer in whom Fox believed they had found their perfect fit for director. Following Singer's hiring, a finalized script was eventually hammered out, with David Hayter receiving sole screenwriter credit (despite contributions from Solomon, Christopher McQuarrie, and Joss Whedon ending up in the onscreen product). Still, Fox was hedging their bets due to a string of critical and commercial failures by superhero adaptations in recent years, capping X-MEN's budget at $75 million (a paltry sum by today's standards).

Despite some shake-ups along the way (Exit Original Wolverine and Cyclops actors Dougray Scott and Jim Caviezel, respectively), what materialized was a lean and efficient picture, brought to life by an incredibly talented - if not entirely star-studded - ensemble cast. X-MEN would overperform to the tune of $300 million worldwide, establishing itself right out of the gate as a blockbuster franchise that would carry Fox to huge box office receipts for years to come. It would likewise serve as a career-defining film series for many of its performers, themselves household names today. With the Marvel Cinematic Universe poised to make a go at recreating the magic, X-Position takes a look back at where it all began!

Join Jenny, Tim, and unofficial third co-host Keithie as we break it all down. From the creative choices, the good, the bad, and the ugly one-liners, to the cast that could have been (Glenn Danzig's Wolverine? Bob Hoskins??), and even Magneto's Mutant Cave Rave, no thought shall remain unread (or unsaid).


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