The X-Men movies, like Batman and Superman before them, have gone through many different permutations over the years, each time trying desperately to please fans of the comic and kowtow to the demands of the cinema. Below, and during the next two X- centric posts, we cover a few examples of how the filmmakers attempted to do both:
Easter Eggs & Character Cameos
Any fanboy filmmaker worth his salt knows that you can't please everyone all the time. There are simply too many characters - and too much mythology packed into years and years of comic book lore - to properly service them all in a single film. Bryan Singer (pictured, above) knew this intrinsically from the start; as if making penance for this, he loaded X-Men 1 with a handful of Easter Eggs and character cameos for generations of X-fans.
First, Singer plays a friendly game of "Spot the 'X's" - hiding subliminal symbols throughout the movie to help enhance our viewing X-perience. (As far as I can tell, this is by no means meant as an homage to Howard Hawks' Scarface: The Shame Of A Nation, in which subliminal "x"s foreshadow violence and death.) How many "x"s can you spot in the following stills?
Although fan favorites Beast, Angel and the Blob were cut from initial script drafts due to budget cuts (and also because non-fans wouldn't be able to stomach such fantastical characters), Singer managed to include walk-ons from Iceman, Kitty Pryde and Colossus at Xavier's school, presumably so they could be resurrected for future sequels:
Singer digs even deeper for the sequel, often hiding additional X-Men characters in plain view. Consider this pair of shots, taken from William Stryker's top secret computer files:
The obvious name to notice here is Erik Lensherr's (Magneto). Eagle-eyed viewers will also spot Keniucho Harada (Silver Samurai), Garrison Kane (Weapon X), Remy LeBeau (Gambit), Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch) and Pietro Maximoff (Quicksilver), among others, plus, in that second screencap, files for Omega Red, Project Wideawake, and Franklin Richards - son of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman. (Holy comic book cross-breeding, Batman!)
Even the Danger Room gets a minor shout-out, as seen here in the bowels of Xavier's mansion:
The image is a little blurry, but just over Stryker's shoulder, on the door in front of him, is a plaque that reads, simply, "DANGER" - either a semi-subtle nod to the X-Men's infamous holographic training area (because that's all the budget would allow) or there's stuff going on behind closed doors we don't want to know about.
Ever the crowd-pleaser, Brett "The Rat" Ratner is able to work an actual Danger Room session into the opening scenes of X-Men: The Last Stand. Diehard comic book fans will no doubt recognize this (simulated) post-apocalyptic wasteland from Days Of Future Past, Chris Claremont and John Byrne's seminal two-issue storyline from 1981:
Those pesky Sentinels also rear their ugly heads during this same sequence:
Even more mutant cameos abound, though you have to look fast to find them:
You can sense the filmmakers working hard to expand the X-Men movie mythos, to suggest an entire world that exists beyond the fringes of the cinematic narrative. Too bad X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: First Class, which both spend so much time looking back on these pre-superhero heroes, spend so much time looking forward - with appearances from characters we've already met:
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
X-Men: First Class
Up next: We take a look at the X-Men series' most surprising character connections and recurring motifs. Stick around, bub!