Most Marvel fanatics remember X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) as the movie that almost effectively killed the first cinematic iteration of the famous mutant characters introduced by director Bryan Singer. After it fell below expectations at the global box office with $460.4 million on a massive $210 million production budget, 20th Century Fox looked to reinvigorate the IP with X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), and later what was meant to be a reboot in the shape of X-Men: First Class (2011). Famous Kick-Ass and Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn led the re-launch of the mutants on the big screen, but he once came very close to wrapping up the first trilogy.
During a 45-minute panel at NYCC 2023, where he discussed his many past and future projects, Vaughn revealed the real reason why he exited X-Men 3, despite how big of an opportunity it was for him back in the mid-2000s. He's been quite critical of Hollywood executives and studio meddling in the past, so his words don't come as a surprise, but the truth is nonetheless a bit shocking.
The director explained that he went into one of the executives' office and saw a "fatter" X-Men 3 script for Halle Berry, who hadn't signed up yet, that showed Storm creating a thunderstorm in Africa to save people from "dying of no water". He thought it was a powerful intro for the character, but his relationship with the executives and the project as a whole quickly soured when he learned they were going to "throw it in the bin" as soon as the Oscar-winner signed up: "I was like, ‘Wow, you’re going to do that to an Oscar-winning actress who plays Storm? I’m out of here.’ So I quit at that point". The movie was ultimately directed by Brett Ratner.
This isn't the first (nor the last) disappointing story to come out of 20th Century Fox's darker years in the 2000s and the X-Men movie franchise, but Vaughn eventually worked again with the studio on First Class and later the Kingsman movies, so the regime and studio politics must've changed significantly at some point. Up next from the filmmaker comes Argylle, a fun twist on the spy genre starring Henry Cavill, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, and Dua Lipa, among others.
It's gonna be a while before the X-Men are back on the big screen (besides maybe showing up in Deadpool 3 alongside Hugh Jackman's Wolverine), but there are plenty of superhero movies we're looking forward to, and we've collected them all in this guide.