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Comic book movies and shared universes may have become commonplace in the past few years, but there was a time when superhero movies arrived in theaters sporadically. 20th Century Fox's X-Men franchise started back with the 2000 original, and is still going strong in the almost two decades since. Bryan Singer brought the mutants to theaters for the first time, although it appears he had a surprising rule on set: no comic books.
Hugh Jackman has recently hung up his claws for good, after playing Wolverine in a ton of main installments and three spinoffs. The Oscar winning actor recently revealed what it was like in the early days, and why director Bryan Singer banned comics from the set, saying:
Bryan Singer had this thing that people would think he really wanted to take comic book characters seriously, as real three-dimensional characters, that people who don't understand these comics might think they're two-dimensional, so no one was allowed [comics]. ... It was contraband. I'd never read X-Men, so people were slipping them under my door.
Well, that sounds intense. While comic book fans now expect each actor to be come experts on their characters' lore, it seems that Bryan Singer had a different idea when filming the first X-Men movie. Because in order to make the mutant cast realistic, he barred Marvel's pages from being referenced during filming.
Hugh Jackman's comments to MTV are sure to confuse comic book fans, who take the research involved in superhero adaptations very seriously. With so many comic book properties currently in theaters, actors are expected to become very familiar with their character's history on the page. This can be seen in the research done by Captain Marvel actress Brie Larson, or Logan director James Mangold being inspired by Watchmen. Yet Bryan Singer had a different idea.
Of course, Bryan Singer had no way of predicting the success of X-Men, or that it was the first in a long line of big screen adventures. If the director/producer knew he was crafting the beginnings of a shared universe, perhaps his feelings about comic books on set would have been different. Still, he was determined to create a realistic version of the mutant team, which can be seen in their appearance alone.
Rather than colorful costumes and over the top powers, X-Men outfitted its team with matching black leather uniforms. Their abilities are also pulled back a bit, with characters like Rogue, Storm, and Jean all less powerful than their comic book versions. And Bryan Singer's vision seems to have paid off, as new installments in the franchise are on the way with Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants.
The X-Men franchise continues, without Hugh Jackman, when Dark Phoenix arrives in theaters June 7th, 2019. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.