2000's X-Men film may not hold up so well when compared with more modern superhero marvels, but there is no denying that it launched the comic book movie landscape as we know it. This film embraced everything awesome about the X-Men, without being a slave to the source material and the results really were pretty great.
X2: X-Men United continued to build on this legacy and, in the eyes of many, remains the best X-film ever made. The cast really came into their own and the story was both action-packed and compelling, leaving the door open to adapt the “Dark Phoenix” storyline in the third installment. Then, the director left the project to make a mediocre Superman movie, while Brett Ratner took over X-Men: The Last Stand, demolishing everything that had been built.
Matthew Vaughn famously revived the franchise in 2011, breathing new life into it by recasting the characters in the excellent X-Men: First Class and Bryan Singer returned to stitch both casts together in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Unfortunately, X-Men: Apocalypse was forgettable. The series has spawned several spinoffs, both much maligned (Wolverine: Origins) and critically-acclaimed (Deadpool, Logan). With new films on the horizon and a possible deal with Disney that will finally unite the Marvel Universe, fans are anxiously awaiting what comes next for the X-Men.
Much of what we see on screen are the impressive results of movie magic, but peeking behind the curtain offers important insight into the process.
Here are 25 Behind-The-Scenes Photos From X-Men Movies That Change Everything.
25 Magnetos bonding
Not all fans were happy with every casting choice in X-Men, but Patrick Stewart’s Professor X and Ian McKellen’s Magneto were universally praised. Recasting those roles was likely among the most difficult decisions made regarding First Class. Thankfully, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender turned out to both be excellent choices.
This photo shows the Magnetos of both the old and new class meeting and bonding over the fact that their hands are roughly the same size.
Although McKellen and Fassbender shared the screen in Days of Future Past, they had no real scenes together, since they were both versions of the same character. Here we get to see those worlds collide.
24 James McAvoy shaving his head
Although Patrick Stewart immediately appeared with Charles Xavier’s trademark bald head, James McAvoy took some time before shearing his long locks for the role. This made sense, considering he was a younger version of Professor X. It wasn’t until X-Men: Apocalypse that McAvoy began to mirror his comic counterpart.
This image shows McAvoy shaving his head for the film. If you look closely, you can see Patrick Stewart was there in a sense as well. He was called in for a video chat prior to the main event so that the OG Charles Xavier could witness the transformation of the newer one. Stewart joked that McAvoy should send some of the hair to him.
23 Mystique in the makeup chair
Mystique may look different than her comic counterpart, but the movies have done an excellent job transforming both Rebecca Romijn and Jennifer Lawrence into the shapeshifting mutant. The credit there obviously goes to the talented team of makeup artists involved.
This picture shows Lawrence in the makeup chair, undergoing a process that took eight hours!
Although this was the full body makeup process for First Class, the duration was significantly shortened for DoFP. Lawrence explained that the makeup irritated her skin, so for that film she was given a bodysuit and only had to sit for three hours.
Even still, that’s a long time to have a team of people painting you every single day.
22 Storm’s assisted flight
We all know that people can’t actually fly, but movies really make it seem like they can. Storm’s powers are tied to the elements and flight has always been central to her character. Films have come a long way since Superman promised “You will believe a man can fly.”
Here is an image of Halle Berry as Storm doing some wire work and looking quite at home in the air.
Interestingly, Berry wasn’t the studio’s first choice to play Ororo. However, they couldn’t afford Angela Bassett at the time, and a the future Oscar-winner Berry took the role instead.
21 Jackman and his lookalike screenwriter
Back in the late ‘90s, David Hayter was a struggling actor who was paying his rent by answering phone calls for Bryan Singer. Lucky for Hayter, he was also a huge X-Men fan and Singer relied heavily on his knowledge for the film. Eventually, Hayter found himself the sole screenwriter of the movie.
This is a picture of Hayter and Hugh Jackman during the filming of X-Men.
It’s crazy to think that Jackman wasn’t originally cast in the iconic role that made him a star.
He only landed the gig because Dougray Scott got into a motorcycle accident on the set of Mission: Impossible 2 and filming had to continue without him.
20 McAvoy and Fassbender's fisticuffs
Much like Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen the younger counterparts, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, have a good rapport. This image shows the two men joking around on the set of First Class.
The relationship between Magneto and Professor X has always been central to the X-Men comics, and both the new and old school iterations of the characters did an excellent job of bringing that to life.
Magneto has never been a straightforward villain. In fact, in more recent years, he has become a hero in the comics. Both Fassbender and McKellen took a nuanced approach to the character, always making it clear that Erik was incredibly complex.
19 Psylocke and Archangel in front of a green screen
This image shows Olivia Munn and Ben Hardy in front of a green screen.
They were obviously having more fun than their characters, who had nothing to smile about in this movie.
One of many complaints leveled at Apocalypse was that it featured an exciting group of characters that fans couldn’t wait to see, but gave them little personality, let alone much of anything to do. Sure, it was awesome to see Psylocke and Archangel in full costume, but neither of them had a very significant role.
18 Quicksilver’s run
Although there were many awesome moments in DoFP, the one that really had everyone talking was Quicksilver’s amazing prison run set to Jim Croce’s classic, “Time in a Bottle”. It was so cool that the film not only tried not only to recreate that magic for Apocalypse, but to make it even better. This was undoubtedly one of the film’s best scenes.
It was two minutes in the movie, but took a month and a half to shoot.
This image goes behind the scenes of that incredible rescue. It looks quite different than the final elaborate sequence of Quicksilver saving almost everyone in the mansion to the dulcet tones of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”.
17 Wire work
Speaking of all the hard work that went into the mansion rescue sequence, this image shows just some of the wire work involved. These students are quite literally hanging out waiting to be saved. Quicksilver rescued countless students - and some animals as well.
This scene was incredibly complex and Evan Peters shot for seventeen days in order to complete it. Between the locations, explosions, and slow motion shots, the effects team had their hands full and they did not disappoint.
The movie itself may have been muddled, but this sequence speaks volumes about how much work actually went into it.
16 Jubilee and Jean Grey get cozy
As earlier stated, many of the new characters brought into Apocalypse didn’t really have too much to do and Jubilee was no exception. Many of Lana Condor’s scenes wound up on the cutting room floor. It is unclear whether or not she will reprise the role in Dark Phoenix, but fans definitely want to see more of her.
Here she is posing for a picture with Sophie Turner, whose Jean Grey will be at the center of Dark Phoenix. Although The Last Stand already attempted to tell this story, most comic readers feel that it didn’t do the arc justice at all. Let’s hope that this movie restores the X-Men to their former glory.
15 Apocalypse above the waist
Apocalypse is one of the X-Men’s biggest bads and fans anxiously awaited his movie debut. It was underwhelming, to say the least.
This image shows part of the process of transforming Oscar Isaac into En Sabah Nur.
He is Apocalypse here, alright, but just from the neck up. It’s a bit jarring to see him as only partially the character.
Isaac is an undeniably great actor, but this film gave him zero opportunity to showcase his talents. This can be said of the majority of the cast, but no one got it worse than him.
14 Day of Montreal Past
When a movie really comes together, the end of production is often bittersweet for both cast and crew. Yes, it means that the film is finally finished, but it also results in saying goodbye to everyone you’ve been working so closely together with for months. At least for many of these actors, they were reunited for subsequent X-films.
This image of screenwriter/future Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg, Bryan Singer, Hugh Jackman, and producer Hutch Parker features a backdrop of the Montreal skyline. It was taken after production wrapped on DoFP. After bringing the two X-continuities together, it really was kind of the end of an era.
13 Time out for Beast and Magneto
This is another image from Days of Future Past. The picture was snapped during the fight scene between Beast and Magneto.
It appears that they’ve taken a time out here, because although Hoult is still looking pretty fierce, Fassbender is definitely smiling.
The crew is also visible with their equipment and clothing that is clearly not from the ‘70s.
Battle sequences are often so believable that it’s sometimes difficult to remember that the actors are probably not always so serious when shooting them. Sometimes giving a scene everything you’ve got probably results in some pretty funny overacting. Gag reels have proven that it’s not always easy for performers to keep a straight face on set.
12 The Last Stand filming
The Last Stand may have been reviled by fans and critics alike, but it would appear that Famke Janssen has happy memories of filming it. She shared this behind-the-scenes photo of her on set.
The film was meant to be adapting the fan favorite “Dark Phoenix” storyline from the comics, but the version it told was virtually unrecognizable. The story attempted to pull several disparate elements together and not only failed to make a cohesive narrative, but also ruined just about every character in the movie.
At least some of the actors remember it fondly.
11 Storm and her stunt double
Most fans don’t yet what to make of Alexandra Shipp’s version of Storm yet. She had little to do in the overstuffed and unfulfilling X-Men: Apocalypse, but hopefully, her role in Dark Phoenix will do a better job of showcasing Storm’s strengths. We’ll have to wait until next year to find out.
When it comes to superhero films, special effects are only part of the magic.
Much of what makes these heroes so super is the epic acts performed by their stunt doubles.
Here is Alexandra Shipp hanging out with hers on the set of Apocalypse.
10 Logan looking at the camera
Logan was a real game changer for Wolverine’s solo outings. Deadpool proved what a rousing success a great R-rated superhero movie could be, leading Fox to come at the character from a different angle, with excellent results. After the disappointing X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the mediocre The Wolverine, Logan finally gave fans everything that they wanted in a movie about Marvel’s most famous mutant.
This picture shows Hugh Jackman with claws drawn, coming at the camera, ready for a fight. Wolverine has always been a complicated character and Jackman’s performance has improved greatly with every movie. Over the course of seventeen years and eight films, Jackman has completely come to define the character.
9 The real Colossus
Originally portrayed by Daniel Cudmore in the X-Men films, Colossus was recast for the Deadpool movies. He is currently played by Stefan Kapičić. Piotr "Peter" Nikolayevich Rasputin’s mutant power is the ability to transform his body into a type of organic steel. He is always powered up in Deadpool and its sequel.
Kapičić lends his voice to the character, but Colossus himself is CGI.
Apparently, it took five actors to bring the mutant back to the big screen.
Here is a photo of one of them in a motion-capture suit and some major lifts. More than one actor had this job on set and in the studio, plus another used as a facial model.
8 Beast and Azazel buddying up
Beast and Azazel may be mortal enemies, but this picture proves that Nicholas Hoult and Jason Flemyng are not.
The image comes from behind-the-scenes of First Class, the film that saw Hoult’s debut as Hank McCoy, a young mutant whose work tragically transformed him into a furry blue creature. Beast had previously been portrayed by Kelsey Grammer in The Last Stand.
The actors are seen here filming a fight scene in front of the green screen, but neither of them look particularly angry. Both actors are smiling and Flemyng is even looking directly at the camera, ready for his close-up. It would appear that it wasn’t all work and no play on the set.
7 Behind X2's iconic scene
When it comes to X2, there is no shortage of amazing scenes to choose from. One of the many memorable moments is the one featured in this photo. This scene took place at Bobby’s parents' house after his brother had called the cops on Bobby, John, Logan and Rogue.
That call led to an incredible confrontation between this small group of X-Men and the police, in which Pyro showed his more villainous tendencies. Wolverine was momentarily down and it was up to Iceman and Rogue to stop Pyro from offing everyone in the vicinity. This was a great scene and it’s interesting to gain some insight into how it began to take shape.
6 Cerebro behind the scenes
Cerebro is one of the most important inventions in X-Men comics. The machine enables Charles Xavier to amplify his powers, discovering mutants from all over the world. This isn’t exactly an easy process to recreate for the films, but the movies have done a good job of making this machine appear to be a reality.
Sure, we all know that Cerebro isn’t real, but this photo really drives that point home.
Behind the scenes, the machine is just a set like any other. We can all probably agree that the movies made it look like so much more.
5 X-Men roadtrip
This behind-the-scenes image from DoFP features James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Michael Fassbender and Hugh Jackman in front of a green screen. However, there is one non-mutant in the bunch: Bryan Singer. After leaving the franchise behind before the third installment began filming, the director returned for this movie.
It would seem that his time with the team has come to an end, though. The reception to Apocalypse was chilly at best and Singer won’t be behind the camera for Dark Phoenix. That film will be helmed by long-time X-Men screenwriter Simon Kinberg instead.
4 Deadpool signs autographs
Just when audiences were beginning to think that they knew what to expect from a comic book film, Deadpool caused a paradigm shift. Not only did it break the superhero movie mold, but it also paved the way for other films of the genre to do so. The sequel also did not disappoint.
Ryan Reynolds has long loved the character and it was in large part his own passion for the project that got Deadpool made in the first place. Here he is signing autographs for kids from the Make-A-Wish foundation on the set of Deadpool 2. Reynolds said of the organization, “These foundations make dreams come true for a lot of of super-brave kids.”
3 Scott and Jean behind the scenes
Scott Summers and Jean Grey are arguably the most iconic couple in the X-Men comics. Theirs was a truly epic love story, although it came to a heartbreaking end. Jean is one of the book’s most enduring characters, having lost her life and been resurrected more than once - although that kind of comes with the territory of being one of the X-Men.
This is a picture of Famke Jansson and James Marsden behind-the-scenes. The actors had real chemistry in the film and it’s a shame that they didn’t get a more well written ending than The Last Stand. Perhaps Tye Sheridan and Sophie Turner will get a better story in Dark Phoenix.
2 Double Beasts
Stunt performers might just be the most underrated people in Hollywood. It’s crazy that there is no Oscar for the difficult work that they do. SAG Awards have righted this wrong, but the Oscars have yet to follow suit.
We may be living in a world of technological wonders, but when it comes to action sequences, CGI can only take you so far before the experience becomes akin to watching a video game.
Action movies would be nothing without stunt performers.
Here is Nicholas Hoult hanging out with his stunt double. Can you tell who is who?
1 First Class group shot
Initially, it seemed that The Last Stand might turn out to be exactly what its title suggested. The film was followed by the equally abysmal X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the future of our favorite mutants was not looking good.
Enter Matthew Vaughn and his brilliant new direction for the X-Men. Characters once thought to be set in stone were recast perfectly and the movie successfully relaunched the entire franchise.
Here is a group shot of the “new class” having some fun behind-the-scenes - apparently a lot of dancing went on when the cameras stopped rolling.
The X-Men films have certainly had their ups and downs, but most fans feel that the journey has been well worth it.
What do you think of these X-Men behind-the-scenes images? Let us know in the comments!