During production of the original X-Men trilogy, many comic-book characters from the pages of the X-Men appeared in each of the three films; however there were many that almost appeared, but didn’t quite make it. Restrictions on running time and budgets was the main reason as to why many characters got cut from the productions and some like Jubilee, Danielle Moonstar and Kitty Pryde (cropping up twice before she became a main character in X-Men: The Last Stand) appeared in ‘blink and you missed them’ cameos; but more were on the cards. The Beast and Gambit were the most popular characters to be included and then removed before or during a production, but they weren’t the only ones.
BEAST: In a 1994 script from Andrew Kevin Walker (as well as a few other unused treatments) the Beast was set to be a member of the X-Men. One reason for his disappearance from the team’s roster was usually at movie studio Fox’s request, as he was deemed too costly to include. When X-Men finally went into production one of his key character traits (his status as a doctor) was transferred to the character Jean Grey (as played by Famke Janssen), who most fans would know was not a doctor in the original comics. When X2: X-Men United went into production the Beast was then going to be included in a sequence involving the altered Cerebro, that would have demonstrated his transformation from ordinary looking mutant into a big blue fur ball, however once again it never happened.
GAMBIT: As for Gambit, he was set to appear in X-Men as a basketball playing student (with explosive balls!), but was dropped fearing audiences unfamiliar with his mutant ability to ‘charge’ objects would become confused as to what was happing when he was playing the game. This didn’t deter attempts to get him in the movies and so in X2, just like the Beast, Gambit was to appear during a scene involving Cerebro. Although the scene was reportedly shot with stuntman James Bamford in the role, the scene itself never made it into the final cut. Finally (and after much pleading from fans) the character was set to crop up in X-Men: The Last Stand as a new member of the team, however he was bumped once again as writer’s feared they didn’t want to introduce him and then not have him do anything of any real importance!
ANGEL: The next character to almost make it on a couple of occasions was Angel, who just like Beast had appeared in Walker’s 1994 script (as well as a couple of the other treatments), but was left out always due to money. He was then set to appear in X2, where the villainous William Stryker would have experimented on him, transforming him into Archangel, but he was deleted from a script draft once again due to expense.
MORE MUTANTS: Other characters that were to appear in early drafts of X-Men were the Blob and Nightcrawler; whilst Multiple Man and Psylocke were set to receive cameos in X2 during the raid on the X-Mansion and Marrow was to appear in the Cerebro sequence, but for one reason or another were dropped. The mutant character Anne Reynolds from the graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills (which inspired the story of X2) was set to appear as William Stryker’s right-hand woman in X2, but she was replaced by the character Lady Deathstrike, so that the film could have another action orientated character. As for X-Men: The Last Stand, mutant telepath Emma Frost was to appear in the film so that she could manipulate the mind of Jean Grey, however she was dropped in favour of the idea of simply allowing Magneto to influence Jean through his views on the ongoing threats to the mutant way of life, instead of mental manipulation.
As a side note, although not mutant characters, the X-Men’s training centre the Danger Room and the mutant hunting robots the Sentinels were also on the cards for the movies, long before they appeared on screen. The Danger Room originally appeared in scripts for X-Men, but was removed due to cost (that old chestnut again) before the film started shooting. It got a little closer when the sequel went into production as sets for the Danger Room were constructed, but once again they were removed due to budget restrictions, which is also the reason why the Sentinels were dropped from X2.
In total quite a number of mutants were debated for inclusion by writers, producers and directors over the entire course of the entire original trilogy’s production (including the years prior to X-Men being green lit).
BUT WHAT DID HAPPEN?
With a large cast of characters filling out each of the X-movies, it wasn’t surprising that many fan favourites were dropped each time a new film went into production, but for most of them it wasn’t the end of the road. Nightcrawler was the first to arrive, where he quite literally burst onto screen in a dramatic opening sequence in X2: X-Men United, thanks to Alan Cummings’ turn as the teleporting mutant. He was pretty much the only one who made it into that movie, although as mentioned above the Beast did get a brief cameo. Thankfully it wasn’t too long before the Beast made his debut (in all his blue fluffy glory), played by Kelsey Grammer in X-Men: The Last Stand, where he had quite an important role. Likewise Angel also appeared in the third X-Men movie, where he was able to spread his wings courtesy of actor Ben Foster, although his appearance seemed more of an afterthought than the Beast’s. Psylocke (Meiling Melancon) and Multiple Man (Eric Dane) also appeared in the film, as did the Danger Room and a Sentinel. As for Gambit, although he never made it into the original trilogy he did crop up alongside Wolverine in X-prequel X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), where he was played by actor Taylor Kitsch. He wasn’t alone because that was also the film that gave the Blob his debut, where he was played by Kevin Durand. As for Emma Frost, a character called Emma was introduced towards the end of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, played by Tahyna Tozzi, who was promoted in publicity material as being a young version of the character. However Tozzi is credited in the movie as simply Emma and Emma Frost appears in X-Men: First Class, played by January Jones. As well as this numerous mutants get name checks throughout the trilogy (specifically in X2: X-Men United) to work around the fact that there simply wasn’t enough time to include all the characters in the X-Men universe.
WAS THIS SUCH A BAD THING?
The fact that a number of key characters had their appearances delayed wasn’t a particularly bad thing actually, as the X-Men films did have a tendency to get very crowded when it came to cast members. As a result some characters (Sabretooth, Toad, Deathstrike, Colossus etc) were either given little to do, or simply dropped after just one appearance in the trilogy. As for main characters such as Professor Xavier, Storm (and worst of all) Cyclops, their onscreen time seemed limited at best and they were supposed to be the lead actors! This was something which caused actress Halle Berry to announce that unless her character Storm was given better scenes she wouldn’t return for the third film (which is why Storm has a lot more involvement in the third film than in the previous two movies). If more mutants had been included in each of the films then it is arguable the trilogy may not have been as successful as it eventually was, because the series could have easily been outweighed by unnecessary cameos.
BUT WHAT IF?
If the Beast, Angel and Gambit had appeared in X-Men, then when it came to making the first sequel the cast list would have had to have been increased to include even more mutants. This would have meant that by the time X-Men: The Last Stand had gone into production EVEN MORE MUTANTS would have been incorporated into the story, which would have meant writers would have had to look to even the most obscure X-Men characters to make sure there were even more mutants than ever before. With so many mutants onscreen and no way to keep track of them all, the first thing that would have been jettisoned from production would have been the script. This would have resulted in audiences watching a film about a group of strange people with God-like abilities, who have no real motivation and bring nothing to the world of cinema. This of course would have confused audiences who would have believed they had already seen something familiar after watching the films The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003), where a group of strange people demonstrate God-like abilities, whilst ultimately bringing nothing to the world of cinema. Dazed and more than a little irritated at the situation, the general viewing public would have demanded their money back from X-Men: The Last Stand, which would have made it the least profitable entry in the series and would have caused movie studio Fox to decide against making X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This would have...
....oh wait, this would have been a good thing! Maybe there should have been more mutants in the X-Men trilogy!!