The X-Men franchise revolutionized the superhero film. Before the beloved Marvel characters came to the big screen, there wasn’t much in the way of pathos in superhero films. That all changed when director Bryan Singer took a shine to the civil rights analogies inherent in the X-Men universe.
Singer took the story deeper into the xenophobia realm with X-2, dealing with Stryker and Magneto’s genocidal absolutism vs. Xavier’s desire to find the middle ground. At the time, the complex social commentary was unparalleled in the genre. The studio clamored for a third installment of the series with Singer at the helm. But when Singer got a better offer to cross the cinematic aisle to a DC film, X-Men: The Last Stand was left without a director.
Eventually, the studio hired Rush Hour director, Brett Ratner. Fox has since produced plenty of successful reboots since and the franchise is still going strong over a decade later, but X-Men: The Last Stand remains a blight on the franchise.
The entire production process was fraught with strife and drama. In the end, it was an awful lot of trouble for a film that would be forgettable if it weren’t so memorably awful.
Here are 15 Shocking Things You Didn’t Know About The Disastrous X-Men: The Last Stand.
15. Brett Ratner: The Last Choice Director
After Singer dropped out of the production, 20th Century Fox frantically hunted for his replacement. Hugh Jackman suggested Darren Aronofsky. Joss Whedon turned down the job to work on Wonder Woman. I, Robot’s Alex Proyas also said no. Future X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn did quite a bit of pre-production work before he backed out due to time constraints.
The studio wanted to rush production. And who better to rush a film production than the director of Rush Hour?
Singer acknowledged the difficulty of Brett Ratner’s position with a not-at-all shady statement: “It’s a very difficult thing, jumping into someone else’s franchise… You’re held up to a standard, particularly if people really like what the originator did.”
14. There Were A Ton Of Re-writes
Considering the source material, The Last Stand should have been great. It combines 2 beloved comic storylines: Chris Claremont’s The Dark Phoenix Saga and Joss Whedon’s Gifted. But something went very wrong in the translation to screen.
Matthew Vaughn lamented his lost work saying, “I storyboarded the whole bloody film, did the script. They didn’t let the emotions and the drama play in that film. It became wall-to-wall noise and drama.”
The Golden Gate Bridge scene was originally the film’s centerpiece, wherein Magneto sprung Mystique from Alcatraz, with the climax at Worthington Labs in D.C. where Magneto planned to destroy the cure and hijack the White House.
13. Ellen Page’s traumatic experience
Ratner offered Ellen Page the role of beloved character Kitty Pryde after seeing her tough-as-nails performance in 2005’s Hard Candy. She declined at first, but Ratner didn’t let up and eventually convinced her to take the job. In a haunting Facebook post, Page recounted her experiences working under Ratner.
Anna Paquin (Rogue) corroborated Page’s 2017 allegations that at a crowded cast event in 2006, Ratner loudly suggested that another woman have sex with Page “to make her realize she’s gay.” At the time, Page had not yet publically declared her sexuality, so the hurtfulness of the comment was two-fold. Page reported feeling “violated when this happened,” but, fearing for her career, she didn’t dare speak up about it at the time.
12. Accusations against Ratner by Olivia Munn and more
Brett Ratner’s career in Hollywood spans decades, but he’s finally disengaging from Warner Bros. projects following accusations of misconduct by 6 women dating back to before Ellen Page’s horrendous experience.
Olivia Munn (Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse) has multiple horror stories. One involves being an aspiring actress tasked with delivering Ratner’s dinner, only to find him sans pants, with a shrimp cocktail in one hand and an unmentionable shrimp-like appendage in the other. Munn didn’t name him when she wrote about the incident in her memoirs, but he later took credit for it anyway, shaming her in the same breath.
Worse still, actress Natasha Henstridge alleged a 1990 encounter in Ratner’s NYC apartment wherein he coerced her into oral stimulation. Despite his disdain for X3, Singer has publicly defended Ratner. Singer has also recently been accused of assault.
11. Halle Berry’s projectile vomiting
The only reason Halle Berry agreed to do a third X-Men film is because Ratner promised Storm some real power besides lightening and blowing stuff around. Berry was especially excited about finally utilizing Storm’s power of flight – something she does in the comics all the time. Berry told Total Film, “I’ve worn this cape for two movies and I wanted to put it to use.”
Unfortunately, Berry had no idea that her body would react so poorly to the wires stunts. One stunt in particular required her to spin 24 times per second, and frequently resulted in the actress projectile vomiting. She told Girl, “I had this bucket called ‘Halle’s Bucket’ and it sort of followed me around. I have it as a memento of the film.”
10. Mystique And Cyclops Got Short Changed
Prior to X3, Cyclops was a major character, not to mention instrumental to the events of The Dark Phoenix Saga. But he only appears in The Last Stand for a grand total of 4 minutes and 40 seconds, before the love of his life kills him (off screen). This was partly because James Marsden had signed on to Superman Returns, but the reason we don’t see him die is because the studio decided to leave his death open ended. They made similar choices with the fates of Mystique and Xavier, despite the intention for this to be, well, The Last Stand.
9. It Was Supposed To Be The End
20th Century Fox originally intended this to be the final X-Men film featuring any of the original cast, forming a trilogy. There were plans for possible spin-offs based on individual characters from the franchise, beginning with X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).
Late in post-production on The Last Stand, the studio changed their mind, and tasked Ratner with re-editing and re-shooting scenes to make the film more open-ended. Then the Wolverine solo film was a bit of a critical flop and they had trouble developing a Magneto origin story. In the end, 20th Century Fox elected to reboot the franchise altogether with X-Men: First Class (directed by Matthew Vaughn), and later, X-Men: Days of Future Past (with Singer returning to direct). The latter film used time travel to fix problematic story developments from The Last Stand.
8. It’s Actually Award-Winning
X-Men: The Last Stand might be a hot mess, but it had a few things going for it. At least, a few award-bestowing organizations certainly thought so. The 2007 Saturn Awards were all over it, nominating it for Best Music, Best Sci-Fi Film, Best Supporting Actor, Best Costume, and Best Special Effects (for Xavier’s death scene).
Famke Janssen won a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress. Halle Berry won a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Female Action Star, where it was also nominated for Favorite Movie, and Favorite Movie Drama.
Empire Magazine also nominated the film for Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy and the Phoenix vs. Xavier scene for Scene of the Year. The Teen Choice Awards nominated it in several categories. Tragically, there were no awards given for Wolverine’s indestructible pants.
7. Famke Janssen didn’t understand her character
Normally, actors need to understand their characters pretty well in order to properly portray them. For instance, it helps to know how long your character has been dead before you film a crucial and dramatic resurrection scene with your distraught husband. But Famke Janssen had no such knowledge going into X3.
When we see Cyclops at the start of The Last Stand, he is uncharacteristically scruffy, and clearly still mourning the loss of Jean. It would help to know just how long he’s been in such a state when he unexpectedly finds her at Alkali Lake and falls prey to her out-of-control psychic powers. Is her death fresh in his mind or has he been grief-stricken for much longer?
6. Insanely big, record-setting budget
A high price tag does not always equate to high quality. The budget for X-Men: The Last Stand came to a whopping $210 million. In 2006, this was the most money ever spent making a film.
A large portion of that money went to the special effects department, with an estimated 1/6th of the budget spent on the Golden Gate Bridge sequence alone. They used a combination of computer effects and miniatures and worked without reference footage due to a ban on filming the famous San Francisco bridge. The visual effects were farmed out to 11 separate companies.
5. Biggest box-office of the original X-Men movies
Easy go, easy come. X-Men: The Last Stand did not remain $210 million in the hole for very long, because as of 2006, it had the biggest opening Memorial Day weekend box office. A bona fide blockbuster, the film grossed $123 million in the first weekend, out-earning the first 2 X-Men films. It remains the 7th highest grossing film of 2006 and the 4th highest grossing film in the franchise.
In the end, The Last Stand brought in $459 million worldwide with $234 million coming from North American audiences alone. Of course, it would again be bested by Pirates of the Caribbean, when At World’s End broke the Memorial Day Weekend record a year later with $140 million.
4. Singer Bailed On X-Men For Superman
Though Bryan Singer was technically bound to a 3-picture deal with 20th Century Fox, in 2005, Warner Bros. offered him his dream job. He was a lifetime fan of Man of Steel and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to reimagine the character in Superman Returns. Singer wanted to do both films, but the studios refused to waver on the timeline and he chose Superman over the X-Men.
Singer spoke to IGN about his regrets saying, “It would have been nice to have done the third one, but I really wanted to have the Superman experience… I didn’t fully have X-Men 3 in my mind and I had this take on Superman and suddenly that was easy… But you know, maybe I wouldn’t have ended up… where I’m sitting today making this epic combination of casts. It was a little awkward for me to see X-Men 3, obviously.”
3. Kelsey Grammer Campaigned For His Role
Kelsey Grammer seems like an obvious choice to play the hirsute blue intellectual, Dr. Hank McCoy. But surprisingly, the casting was Grammer’s idea. He was so enthusiastic about the part of Beast, that he agreed to an audition for the first time in over two decades. Once he embodied the good doctor, he became so attached to the part that he was furious when First Class director Matthew Vaughn replaced him with Nicholas Hoult.
Grammer told IGN, “I guess my ego was kind of hurt that they just decided to go back in time all of a sudden and Kelsey Grammer wasn’t Beast anymore.” He contacted Bryan Singer and demanded a cameo in Days of Future Past. Grammer told ComicBook, he would reprise the role anytime. “Beast was a riot. I think he was underused… I believe that they should have done another Beast movie, you know with my Beast.”
2. Ratner Believes He Saved The Franchise
Matthew Vaughn says that he had completed nearly all of the pre-production work on X-Men: The Last Stand, before he quit the movie due to artistic differences and time constraints. Considering how much he’d already put into it, Vaughn remains puzzled by how the film ultimately turned out.
Brett Ratner claims the studio handed him a big mess and a short timeline in which to fix it. Moreover, he believes he’s the hero of this story. He told Starpulse, “If I buried the franchise how the f*** did they make a Wolverine [movie]?… Mine kept the franchise alive!… Every single person that wrote s*** went to see that movie multiple times because a movie doesn’t just gross [that much money] unless people go to see it more than once.”
1. Singer Made Days Of Future Past To “Fix” The Universe
X3 is so problematic that many fans consider Days of Future Past to be the unofficial 3rd installment of the X trilogy. And Singer doesn’t disagree. When IGN asked the director if he saw the opportunity to “revisit things that happened in the third film in terms of characters and endings that [he] might like to see changed”, he responded, “You mean, what you’re politely saying is, “fix s**t.” Is that what you’re saying? That’s what I’m hearing… There’s going to be a little of that, a few things I can repair.”
He felt confident that fans would be pleased with his changes, and it seems that most were. In the end, the film basically cancels out the events at Alkali Lake, and Wolverine returns to a present in which all of friends are alive and well, including Jean, Xavier, and Scott Summers.
Do you know of any other shocking aspects of X-Men: The Last Stand? Let us know in the comments!
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