22 X-Men facts to impress your friends with

Ever wondered who nearly played Wolverine or which big screen directors nearly directed an X-Men film? We've got the answers to those questions and much more

From comic strip to the big screen

1. Rogue villain

Rogue is very much a part of the X-Men hero clan today, but did you know that there was a time when she was portrayed as a pretty nasty villain? She would use her energy draining powers purely for her own benefit, and battled against Wolverine, Storm and even The Avengers – to whom she is now very much a part of. (source)

2. Cyclops isn’t quite who we think he is…

One character who appears to have lost something in translation from comic to screen is Cyclops. In the films, Cyclops is a mild-mannered chap who wears funky sunglasses to save him from inadvertently blasting lasers from his eyes. However, in the original comics, Cyclops is quite the tough cookie – taking out several baddies in one go. (source)

3. Wolverine nearly got the chop

While Wolverine is arguably the X-Men’s most popular character, he was nearly dropped from the comic entirely, shortly after joining the X-Men back in 1975. The reason? He wasn’t exciting enough. It was only when his complex backstory was explored (along with some serious intervening from Canadian artist John Byrne) that Marvel’s creative team decided to keep him in the series. (source)

4. Where’s the werewolf?

To combat the overuse of horror, gore and excessive violence, the Comics Code Authority was formed and enforced throughout the early part of the 21st century. This meant that ghouls, zombies, werewolves and vampires could not appear in comic publications, so to combat this, sneaky Marvel created the Were-Pterodactyl, a werewolf spliced with a pterodactyl. The character appeared in X-Men 60 in 1969. Genius. (source)

5. Disgruntled artists

We’ve all been annoyed with our employer at some point in time, and so when artist Ethan Van Sciver became fed up with Marvel, he decided to get his own back. The illustrator was commissioned to create X-Men Issue 118, and sneakily used the word ‘Sex’ on almost every page, hidden in branches, smoke and hair amongst other places.(source)

6. Nightcrawler’s origins kept under wraps

X-Men 2 featured the character Nightcrawler, who just so happens to be the son of Mystique and Hellfire Club member, Azazel. This is never mentioned in the film, despite the fact he bore resemblance to both parents – he inherited his father’s teleportation abilities and devilish appearance, and his mother’s blue skin. (source)

The man behind Marvel

Stan Lee Marvel
7. Stan Lee and his many cameos

There are many things we’ve come to love about the X-Men films, as well as Marvel films in general. You don’t have to be a massive fan of the franchise to know you should always try to spot Stan Lee’s cameos in Marvel films. But did you know that the tradition started back in 2000, when Lee did his first ever cameo in the original X-Men film? (source)

8. Stan Lee vs Alfred Hitchcock

On his many cameos in the Marvel films, Lee said: "I'm a frustrated actor. My ... goal is to beat Alfred Hitchcock in the number of cameos. I'm going to try to break his record." - Feb. 6, 2006. (source)

9. Stan Lee on receiving awards…

In 2012, Lee won the Vanguard Award from the Producers Guild of America. On receiving the award he said: "I am extremely appreciative that the Producers Guild has chosen me for this distinguished award. I am eager to continue to expand comic book storytelling into the digital space and am honoured to be awarded alongside such amazing visionaries." (source)

10. Civil Rights

The Civil Rights Movement that was big news in the 1960s and inspired Stan Lee to weave some social commentary into creating the X-Men mythology. He thought it would be interesting to have mutant characters who were considered heroes by some, and feared and loathed by others – this was a direct metaphorical attack on the widespread racism and homophobia that was happening at the time. (source)

Hugh Jackman and Wolverine
11. Wolverine Fried Chicken

In preparation for the role of Wolverine, Hugh Jackman needed to bulk up to play the muscular hero. So who better to ask for advice other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? The wrestler-turned-actor told Jackman he should aim to gain a pound a week for the next six months. The best way to do this, he told Jackman, was to consume roughly 6,000 calories a day – in other words: “an awful lot of chicken, steak and brown rice”. (source)

12. Hugh Jackman on Wolverine

Having played the role of Wolverine for more than a decade, Jackman knows the character inside and out. This is what he had to say: “It’s fair to say that, by X-Men 3, Wolverine had gone a little soft, and I agree with them there. What fans love about Wolverine is his more uncompromising approach to life. He is who he is. He’s not always a nice guy. He had got edge. He’s an anti-hero. And there’s also a vulnerability in there. There is conflict and battles going on in there.”

13. Cold showers

For the original X-Men film in 2000, Hugh Jackman got up at 5am every day of filming to take a shower. He jumped into the shower only to find that the water was freezing cold as there was no hot water at that time in the morning. To avoid waking up his sleeping wife, Jackman endured the freezing shower holding in his urge to scream in shock. Midway through the freezing shower, Jackman realised that this was a similar mind-set to Wolverine and has endured freezing cold showers for every Wolverine film since. (source)

14. What do they call you?

In the first film, Wolverine takes a tour of the X-Mansion and at the end, turns to Professor Xavier and asks: “What do they call you, Wheels?” This line was ad-libbed by Jackman with the original, scripted line being: “What do they call you, Baldie?” (source)

X-Men behind the scenes…
15. All hail Ellen Page

Ellen Page was cast to play Kitty Pryde in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) after director Brett Ratner saw her performance 2005’s Hard Candy. Page had originally turned down the role, but Ratner convinced her to go for it after he personally called her to talk through the script. (source)

16. If at first you don’t succeed, redraft…

Screenwriters Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris learnt the true meaning of redrafting their script whilst working on 2003’s X2. The screenwriters were onset all day, every day, turning in scripts. In total the writers penned 26 drafts of the script. (source)

17. What do they call you, Baldie?

James McAvoy shaved his head in preparation for his role as a young Charles Xavier in 2011’s X-Men: First Class. Unfortunately, the filmmakers had imagined the young Xavier as having full flowing locks for the prequel. During the first few months of filming, McAvoy had to wear hair extensions until his natural hair had grown back. (source)

The ones that didn’t quite make it…

18. James Cameron

At one stage, James Cameron had expressed a serious interest in adapting X-Men for the big screen. The Oscar-winning director behind The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986) and Titanic (1997) was amongst numerous others who’d expressed an interest in bringing the film to the big screen. Many were rejected (including Joss Whedon, who penned a script for the original film) whereas Cameron had a meeting with Stan Lee himself. (source)

19. Darren Aronofsky

Director of Requiem for a Dream (2000), Black Swan (2010) and Noah (2014) was originally set to direct last year’s X-Men spinoff which saw the adamantium-clawed hero travel to Japan to battle an old enemy. Aronofsky eventually bowed out of the project on the grounds that filming in Japan for just less than a year would be too long to spend away from his family. James Mangold, director of Walk the Line (2005) and Girl, Interrupted (1999) took the helm in Aronofsky’s absence. (source)

20. Guillermo del Toro

As a huge fan of the Japanese Wolverine Comics, Guillermo del Toro (Pans Labyrinth (2006), Hellboy (2004)) expressed an interest in directing 2013’s The Wolverine. At one stage, he even took a meeting with James Gianopulos and Hugh Jackman about taking on the project but eventually decided against it, as he didn’t feel he could commit to the three years it would take to make the film. (source)

21. Hugh who?

Hugh Jackman was a pretty much an unknown Australian actor when he suddenly shot to fame playing Wolverine in X-Men in 2000. Nowadays it’s almost impossible to imagine anyone else in the role, but did you know the part was nearly taken by Dougray Scott? Scott had to drop out when the filming of Mission Impossible II (2000) overran. Nowadays the actor still works, but is best remembered most for his role in… Mission Impossible II. Bet he’s kicking himself. (source)

And finally…

22. The $40,000 comic book

If you want to get your hands on the first ever issue of X-Men, printed in 1963, you’re looking at forking out a cool $40k… Ouch!

If you think the most avid X-Men fans have it bad, spare a thought for fans of Superman. A copy of ‘Action Comics 1’ from 1938 is estimated to be worth $2.89m. (source)