At various stages throughout the production of the third X-Men movie, there were plans to make some of the scenes...different.
OH. SO WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED?
Often when movies begin production they will go through a number of changes, sometimes differing completely from what was scripted. In the case of X-Men: The Last Stand, when the film went into production a number of key cast members (James Marsden, Anna Paquin, Rebecca Romijn, Sir Patrick Stewart) were either unavailable or had limited time with which to work on the film, due to other commitments. As a result there were a number of changes made to the script to cut down their screen time, which is why characters such as Cyclops and Professor Xavier were killed off, whilst others such as Mystique and Rogue were more or less written out for most of the running time. However even with those changes, further alterations were set to be made to what finally ended up onscreen.
CYCLOPS: First up the character of Cyclops almost didn’t appear at all. Due to actor James Marsden’s filming commitments with Superman Returns (2006) which was being shot at the same time as X-Men: The Last Stand, the character of Cyclops was to be written out off-screen without Marsden’s assistance. Only a verbal reference to explain his absence was to be used.
ROGUE: Throughout the X-Men films Rogue was the character who most signified the plight of all mutants in the story, due to feeling isolated from those she truly cared about as a result of her powers. The story of X-Men: The Last Stand offered Rogue the opportunity to find a cure for her mutant powers and in a scene towards the end of the movie that is exactly what she did. This wasn’t the only version of that particular scene though, as one alternative had her announcing to her boyfriend Bobby that she had decided against taking the cure, because she had reached the conclusion that taking away her powers wouldn’t change who she was inside and so she didn’t need to go through with it. Another twist on the same scene would have left the scene open, with it unclear if Rogue had taken the cure or not. This would have played out in a similar fashion to the final cut where Rogue and Bobby held hands, leaving audiences to presume Rogue had taken the cure, only for the scene to cut away outside where Leech, the mutant with the ability to suppress other mutants powers, would have been sitting on the grass. Audiences would then have been left debating if Bobby had been able to touch Rogue’s hand because she had been ‘cured’ or if it was because Leech had unknowingly neutralised her abilities.
MYSTIQUE: The other big change that almost happened revolved around Mystique and her relationship with Magneto. Early into the story Mystique had lost her mutant abilities whilst protecting Magneto; something which resulted in the Master of Magnetism abandoning her for no longer being a mutant. Later in the movie Mystique was seen getting her revenge on Magneto by informing the US government of his whereabouts (presumably in exchange for immunity from past crimes). This didn’t do the Government much good, as Magneto had a contingency plan in place and had abandoned his hiding place, but it did act as a piece of symmetry to balance out what Magneto had done to Mystique. However in addition to these scenes Mystique would have returned at the very end of the movie during a scene involving Magneto playing chess. In the final cut of the movie Magneto plays the game alone, but the original plan was to include Mystique in the scene so that it was clear to audiences that she had been working with him the whole time and had deliberately sent the US military on a wasted mission.
BUT WHAT DID HAPPEN?
Although Fox wanted to kill off Cyclops without James Marsden’s assistance, Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg, the writers of the movie convinced the studio it would be better to kill him onscreen, which is why James Marsden appears... even if it is ever so briefly. As for Rogue, the alternative scene where she told Bobby that she had decided against the cure was filmed, but it was eventually decided that having her cured would offer her journey a better conclusion. The scene did however turn up as part of the extra material included on the DVD release. As for the scene involving Leech, it was abandoned, but eagle eyed audiences can see that the scene directly after Rogue and Bobby’s interaction has Leech in the grounds of the school greeting Storm, so they can see how it could have almost happened. Finally Mystique’s extra appearance never took place simply because actress Rebecca Romijn was unavailable due to prior filming commitments.
WAS THIS SUCH A BAD THING?
All of Cyclops’ scenes in X-Men: The Last Stand seemed rushed (which clearly they were), but having him die onscreen was a hell of a lot better than having him killed off-screen without any involvement from the actor whatsoever. As for the possibility of Rogue’s final scene playing out differently, it seems to make no real difference as the real problem lay in the fact that Rogue was one of the pivotal characters of the whole trilogy and yet her story pretty much came to a halt in X-Men: The Last Stand, as if it wasn’t really that important anymore. Leaving her with powers would have at least left the door open for a conclusion in future movies, but taking away her powers made more sense in terms of what the average Joe would do in a similar situation. With Mystique it would have been fun to see her once more, just to confirm that it was all part of Magneto’s plan, however the fact that her double-cross didn’t pay off exactly as planned, did leave it open for the audiences interpretation as to if she had really betrayed Magneto or not.
BUT WHAT IF?
If X-Men: The Last Stand had been different then the result may or may not have been a better movie. It’s kind of like questioning which came first... the chicken...or the egg? Many could debate it, lots could offer their own personal thoughts, but none would ever be able to give a definitive answer.
However in all likelihood the film would probably still have been a bit of a mess, so it doesn’t really matter.