Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Way We Weren't: James Cameron's X-Men

I always wondered what a "Carolco" superhero movie would have been like.  Carolco, if you'll recall, was the independent mini-major studio run by Mario Kassar and Andy Vajna then only Kassar, who overpaid for top talent like James Cameron, Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Paul Verhoeven, Renny Harlin, Walter Hill, Arnold, Sly and Michael Douglas but gave us big budget, ballsy Hollywood epics like Terminator 2, Cliffhanger, Rambo, Total Recall, Basic Instinct and Universal Soldier.  In 1989, Carolco bought the rights to Marvel's X-Men comic book.  James Cameron was going to produce and his then wife Kathryn Bigelow was set to direct.  Bob Hoskins was the favorite to play Logan/Wolverine while Angela Bassett was tipped to play the weather controlling Storm.  Noted X-Men comic book writer Chris Claremont and the man himself, Stan Lee, visited Cameron in 1990 to talk X movies but were quickly derailed when Lee brought up Spider-Man.  Cameron's eyes lit up and Carolco ended up buying the rights to Marvel's web-slinger as well.  Cameron wrote a scriptment for Spidey and even storyboarded numerous scenes.  However, the bankruptcy of Carolco sent everything into a mess of litigation and by the mid 90's, X-Men went to Fox and Spider-Man to Sony.  Cameron had already moved on and was waist deep into Titanic.

Sigh, a 90's X-Men movie from the makers of Aliens, Terminator 2, Near Dark and Point Break?  It almost breaks the heart.  While giving a property to an eccentric, imaginative visualist like Tim Burton is fine and dandy, there's something to be said about handing it to a guy or gal who knows how to tell a good story, make it look interesting and have you on the edge of your seat as they take you on a pulse pounding, nail biting ride a la Cameron, Verhoeven, Harlin, Bigelow or Emmerich.  It probably would have had a lot more action than 2000's ok but kind of staid version to say the least and you could have gotten some strong and familiar actors to fill the roles.  Like whom?  Glad I asked!  Back in 1995, Wizard of Comics magazine posted their wish list for an X-Men movie cast.  Like the staff, I would have preferred Cameron to direct but Bigelow would have killed it too.

Professor Charles Xavier - Patrick Stewart.  Yeah, I'm cool with this.  Apparently so was Fox since he's about to play Professor X for a 6th time.

Lucas Bishop - Michael Dorn.  I'm fine either way with this choice.  Dorn has the voice and size to play the time skipping mutant.

Piotr "Colossus" Rasputin - Dolph Lundgren.  Hell yes, perfect casting.  90's Dolph had the physique and quiet strength to play the shy Russian farm boy who has super strength and organic metal skin.

Scott "Cyclops" Summers - MICHAEL BIEHN.  Even perfect-er casting than Dolph.  A calm, cool headed leader who likes to mix it up and is also an under the radar babe magnet in a 90's James Cameron joint?!  You couldn't ask for a better choice to portray Cyke.

Remy "Gambit" LeBeau - Jean-Claude Van Damme.  Fuck yeah!  A roguishly charming ladies man who fights with a bo staff and martial arts complete with a New Orleans accent?  Why would you ever think of Taylor Kitsch, Channing Tatum or Josh Holloway for this?  Boggles the mind.

Elizabeth "Psylocke" Braddock - Tia Carrere.  I'm ok with this, not sure what her action chops were but she was in movies with Dolph, Brandon Lee and Arnold so...

Ororo "Storm" Monroe - Iman.  Uh who?  Sorry, I'll take Angela Bassett's beautiful yet strong presence over some rail thin supermodel for this one.

Jean Grey - Nicole Kidman.  A pretty redhead with acting chops to play the lust of all X-Men that eventually goes crazy and destroys an entire population of aliens?  Yeah, I'm down.

Logan "Wolverine" - Glen Danzig.  Get the fuck outta here.  Bob Hoskins would have been fine.  Have him lose a few pounds but he would have been solid as the short, surly, beserking asshole of the team.

Cable - Clint Eastwood.  This one is a wash, I mean who better to play a grizzled, hardass, time traveling soldier?  He might have been a little old at the time but I'm having trouble conjuring up a suitable 90's alternative.

Erik "Magneto" Lensherr - Rutger Hauer.  Good choice.  Blade Runner and Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Hauer is great at playing that Euro-trash villain with equal parts menace and grace.  Ed Harris would be a good choice too.

Victor "Sabretooth" Creed - Clancy Brown.  Highlander's Brown has the size, voice and maniacal moxie to tear shit up as the eviler version of Wolverine.  "There can be only one!"

Cain "Juggernaut" Marko - Big Van Vader.  Pro-wrestler Vader had the girth sure but I think this is a villain you could have kept out of a 90's X-Men film.  Or cast a tall, muscular guy like Ralf Moeller to fill the role and shoot him at perspectives to make him even bigger so when Colossus defeats him, it's not an empty victory.

Emma "White Queen" Frost - Rebecca De Mornay.  Yup.  With 90's hot yet talented actresses like DeMornay, Kidman and Carrere around, this would have made a heck of a lot sexier X-flick than what we've been given with the actual movies.

1 comment:

  1. Ah snap! That X-Men movie would have been awesome. Much better than the crap that Fox keeps shovelin' out.