After a crowd pleasing turn as teleporting mutant Nightcrawler in X2: X-Men United (2003), the plan was for actor Alan Cummings to reprise the role for the third X-Men film.
OH. SO WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED?
When Cummings signed on the dotted line to play Nightcrawler in the second X-Men movie he also signed for the third movie, meaning that when X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) was announced it seemed almost certain that he would be amongst the returning cast members. His duties the second time around would have been smaller, but he would have once again donned the blue make-up and prosthetics to play Nightcrawler alongside the ever expanding cast.
BUT WHAT DID HAPPEN?
Whilst in production (and approximately a year before the film was due to be released) Cummings announced on his website that Fox (the studio behind the X-movies) had decided not to pick up the option for his return. A couple of reasons appeared to crop up as to why this decision was made with the first concerning the make-up process and time constraints. Cummings had made it known that he disliked the application of make-up and prosthetics required to transform him into Nightcrawler and that coupled with the fact that his role was to be reduced anyway, suggested that it was easier not to include him, especially as the film was already running to a tight schedule. The other reason (which seems more likely) was because the character of the Beast (played by Kelsey Grammer) was introduced into the movie and the writers believed he would be too similar to Nightcrawler, so it was deemed a better idea to introduce a new character than to keep an old one. Although there was no mention of his absence in the finished movie, the official game that accompanied the film’s release did offer an exit story. For this Cummings did return to the role so that he could at least provide voiceover duties, as Nightcrawler became one of the game’s main characters. The game’s story saw the X-Men return to the headquarters of X2’s chief bad guy William Stryker, as well as offering an introduction for the mutant hunting robots, the Sentinels. After completion of the mission (the game’s story) Nightcrawler explained to Professor Xavier that he felt life as an X-man was much too violent for a peaceful man such as himself and so he couldn’t be part of the X-Men. Although Xavier accepted this he did tell Nightcrawler that he would always have a place amongst the team, should he ever decide to return.
WAS THIS SUCH A BAD THING?
It was a shame that Nightcrawler didn’t return for the third X-Men movie as his presence was sorely missed, however with X-Men: The Last Stand’s extremely large cast of characters, jumbled storyline and brief running time, it was probably for the best. The fact that the official game gave him an exit story of sorts was better than nothing and Xavier’s comments about always having a place on the team did fit in with an element of the Beast’s introduction in the film. In X-Men: The Last Stand it was stated that the Beast had previously been an X-man (as seen in X-Men: First Class), which confirmed that members did come and go.
BUT WHAT IF?
If Cummings had returned for another X-film he would have had to share screen time with about 16 main characters, one muddled story based on two great tales from the comics and a rushed and slightly problematic production. His inclusion would have been just one thing too many for the average cinemagoer and mass audiences would have left theatres completely bemused. Some would have believed they had witnessed a strangely chaotic film that seemed rushed, underwhelming and a poor excuse for an X-Men movie, whilst others would have been convinced they had witnessed the greatest film...ever! This would have...