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How Stan Lee Stopped James Cameron's 'X-Men' Movie


An interesting bit of movie trivia was revealed in the last few days courtesy of Chris Claremont. Who is Chris Claremont? He's an award-winning comic book writer and novelist who during his 17-year career with Marvel, helped co-create a slew of well-known X-Men characters including Rogue, Mystique, Jubilee and Gambit, among others. His collaboration with Frank Miller on Wolverine serves as the basis for James Mangold's sequel, The Wolverine.

During this past weekend, Claremont spoke at a Columbia University panel commemorating his decision to dedicate his Uncanny X-Men archives to the school. During the course of the panel discussion, Claremont revealed that 10 years before Bryan Singer brought the mutants to theaters, then-married power duo James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow had plans to make an X-Men movie. At the time, Cameron would produce, Bigelow would direct and a pair of actors had been eyed for prominent roles: Bob Hoskins as Wolverine and Angela Bassett as Storm.
"James Cameron, Bob Hoskins, Angela Bassett, ahhh. Fanboy heaven. I would have been happy as a clam," Claremont said.
Claremont said that he wanted Hoskins and Bassett as Wolverine and Storm, respectively, but went into detail why a proposed adaptation never came to be and it's thanks to Stan Lee's intervention. Claremont and Lee went to Cameron's Lighstorm offices to pitch the idea of an X-Men movie, and unfortunately, it sounds like Lee inadvertently talked Cameron into thinking about another Marvel project instead.
"Just think about this for a minute: James Cameron's X-Men. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. That's what we were playing," Claremont said. "So we're chatting. And at one point Stan looks at Cameron and says, 'I hear you like Spider-Man.' Cameron's eyes lit up."
"And they start talking. And talking. And talking. About 20 minutes later all the Lightstorm Entertainment guys and I are looking at each other and we all know the X-Men deal has just evaporated. Kathryn goes off and writes a screen treatment for X-Men that was eaten alive by all the idiots who have a piece of Spider-Man because Marvel during its evolution has sold off the rights time and time and time again."
Cameron would go on to write a Spider-man script treatment that was never made thanks to a tangle of legal problems.
Claremont also talked about how he tried to dissuade former Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter from reviving the character Jean Grey (who ended up being portrayed by Famke Jansen in Singer's movie) after the writer killed her off in the Dark Phoenix saga. Claremont had no complaints about Singer's X-Men films or the casting of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine or Halle Berry as Storm. He was less forgiving about the return of Jean Grey, a decision that still annoys him.
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