There was concept art for Beast (before the character was deleted from subsequent scripts) by Industrial Light & Magic
Throughout 1989 and 1990, Stan Lee and Chris Claremont were in discussions with James Cameron and Carolco Pictures for an X-Men film adaptation. The deal fell apart when Cameron went to work on Spider-Man, Carolco went bankrupt, and the film rights reverted to Marvel Studios. In December 1992, Marvel discussed selling the property to Columbia Pictures to no avail. Meanwhile, Avi Arad produced the animated X-Men TV series for Fox Kids. 20th Century Fox was impressed by the success of the TV show, and producer Lauren Shuler Donner purchased the film rights for them in 1994.
Andrew Kevin Walker was hired to write the script in early 1994. Walker's draft involved Professor Xavier hiring Wolverine into the X-Men, which consists of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast, and Angel. The Brotherhood of Mutants, which consisted of Magneto, Sabretooth, Toad, and the Blob, try to conquer New York City, while Henry Peter Gyrich and Bolivar Trask attack the X-Men with three 8 feet (2.4 m) tall Sentinels. The script focused on the rivalry between Wolverine and Cyclops, as well as the latter's self-doubt as a field leader. Part of the backstory invented for Magneto made him the cause of the Chernobyl disaster. The script also featured the X-Copter and the Danger Room. Walker turned in his second draft in June 1994.
More scripts were written by John Logan, James Schamus, and Joss Whedon. Whedon claimed his script was rejected because of its "quick-witted pop culture-referencing tone". Only two dialogue exchanges from his draft appeared in the finished film. One of these scripts kept the idea of Magneto turning Manhattan into a "mutant homeland", while another hinged on a romance between Wolverine and Storm. In 1996, Fox approached Michael Chabon to write a script. Chabon's six-page film treatment focused heavily on character development between Wolverine and Jubilee. It also included Professor X, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Beast, Iceman, and Storm. Under Chabon's plan, the villains would not have been introduced until the second film.
Robert Rodriguez was approached to direct, but turned down the offer. Bryan Singer was looking to do a science fiction film after the release of The Usual Suspects. Fox approached Singer for Alien Resurrection, but producer Tom DeSanto felt X-Men would be a better opportunity as he was impressed with how Singer directed an ensemble cast in The Usual Suspects. Singer turned down the offer, believing that comic books were unintelligent literature. By July 1996, Singer had further turned down the film another two times, and finally accepted after reading the comics and watching the animated series. The themes of prejudice in the comic resonated with Singer.
By December 1996, Singer was in the director's position, while Ed Solomon was hired to write the script in April 1997, and Singer went to film Apt Pupil. Fox then announced a Christmas 1998 release date. In late 1997, the budget was projected at $60 million. In late 1998, Singer and DeSanto sent a treatment to Fox, which they believed was "perfect" because it took "seriously" the themes and the comparisons between Xavier and Magneto and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, unlike the other scripts. They made Rogue an important character because Singer recognized that her mutation, which renders her unable to touch anyone, was the most symbolic of alienation. Singer merged attributes of Kitty Pryde and Jubilee into the film's depiction of Rogue. Magneto's plot to mutate the world leaders into accepting his people is reminiscent of how Constantine I's conversion to Christianity ended the persecution of early Christians in the Roman Empire; the analogy was emphasized in a deleted scene in which Storm teaches history. Senator Kelly's claim that he has a list of mutants living in the United States recalls Joseph McCarthy's similar claim regarding communists.
Fox, who had projected the budget at $75 million, rejected the treatment, which they estimated it would have cost $5 million more. Beast, Nightcrawler, Pyro, and the Danger Room had to be deleted before the studio greenlighted X-Men. Fox head Thomas Rothman argued that this would enhance the story, and Singer concurred that removing the Danger Room allowed him to focus on other scenes he preferred. Elements of Beast, particularly his medical expertise, were transferred to Jean Grey. Singer and DeSanto brought Christopher McQuarrie from The Usual Suspects, and together did another rewrite. David Hayter simultaneously rewrote the screenplay, receiving solo screenplay credit from the Writers Guild of America, while Singer and DeSanto were given story credit. The WGA offered McQuarrie a credit, but he voluntarily took his name off when the final version was more in line with Hayter's script than his.
Many actors were considered for roles in the film particularly Wolverine and Cyclops.
Patrick Stewart was the first and only choice for the role of Charles Xavier since his debut in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Terence Stamp and Christopher Lee was in the running for the role of Magneto before Ian McKellen was cast.
For the role of Wolverine, Gary Sinise, Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, Viggo Mortensen, Aaron Eckhart, Edward Norton and Jean Claude Van Damme were all considered. At one point in the 1990s, Glenn Danzig was approached to play Wolverine in ad hoc committee X-Men film, because he bore an uncanny resemblance to the character, as well as being the same height as Wolverine, and very muscular. However, he had to decline, due to the fact that the shooting for the film would force him to put a halt to touring with his band for nine months. Dougray Scott was originally cast as Wolverine, but was forced to pull out of the project due to scheduling conflicts with Mission:Impossible II. Fox on the other hand wanted Keanu Reeves for the part.
For the role of Cyclops, Thomas Jane, Johnny Lee Miller, Eric Mabius, Owen Wilson, Edward Burns, Edward Norton and Jude Law were considered. Michael Biehn was considered for the role in 1989 when James Cameron was developing the film. James Caviezel was originally cast but pulled out before filming began. WWE Wrestler Kevin Nash was offered the role of Sabretooth but he turned down the role due to scheduling conflicts. When Tyler Mane was cast, he signed a multi-picture deal to reprise his role as Sabretooth in future movies. Drew Barrymore, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Katie Holmes, Natalie Portman, Christina Ricci, Alicia Silverstone and Katharine Isabelle were considered for the role of Rogue. Angela Bassett was offered the role of Storm but turned it down. Jada Pinkett Smith and Rachel Luttrell were also considered. Jeri Ryan (who was also in the running for the role of Mystique), Selma Blair, Renee O'Connor, Lucy Lawless and Maria Bello were considered for the role of Jean Grey.
The original start date was mid-1999, with the release date set for Christmas 2000, but Fox moved X-Men to June. Steven Spielberg had been scheduled to film Minority Report for release in June 2000, but he had chosen to film A.I. Artificial Intelligence, and Fox needed a film to fill the void. This meant that Singer had to finish X-Men six months ahead of schedule, although filming had been pushed back. The release date was then moved to July 14.
Filming took place from September 22, 1999 to March 3, 2000 in Toronto and in Hamilton, Ontario. Locations included Central Commerce Collegiate, Distillery District and Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. Casa Loma, Roy Thomson Hall and Metro Hall were used for X-Mansion interiors, while Parkwood Estate (located in Oshawa, east of Toronto) was chosen for exteriors. For the train station scenes, Toronto Union Station and Hamilton GO Centre were set. Spencer Smith Park doubled for Liberty Island. A scale model was used for the Statue of Liberty
The filmmakers decided not to replicate the X-Men costumes as seen in the comic book. Stan Lee and Chris Claremont supported this decision. Claremont joked, "you can do that on a drawing, but when you put it on people it's disturbing!" Producer/co-writer Tom DeSanto had been supportive of using the blue and yellow color scheme of the comics, but once he saw tests of them, he declared, "No, that just doesn't work." Despite receiving positive feedback from various associates at Marvel Comics for the black costume design, fans on the internet still had negative emotions when X-Men was filming. To acknowledge the fan complaints, Singer added Cyclops' line "What would you prefer, yellow spandex?" – when Wolverine complains about wearing their uniforms – during filming. Singer noted that durable black leather made more sense for the X-Men to wear as protective clothing.
Wolverine's claws required a full silicone cast of Hugh Jackman's arm, and 700 versions for Jackman and his stunt doubles. It took nine hours to apply Rebecca Romijn's prosthetic makeup. She could not drink wine, use skin creams, or fly the day before filming, because it could have caused her body chemistry to change slightly, causing the 110 prosthetics applied to her skin fall off. Between takes, the makeup department kept Romijn isolated in a windowless room to ensure secrecy. Romijn reflected, "I had almost no contact with the rest of the cast; it was like I was making a different movie from everyone else. It was hell."
In the late 1990s, computer-generated imagery was becoming more commonly used. Singer visited the sets of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Titanic to understand practical and digital effects. Filming had started without a special effects company hired. Digital Domain, Cinesite, Kleiser-Walczak Construction, Hammerhead Production, Matte World Digital, CORE and POP were all hired in December 1999. Visual effects supervisor Mike Fink admitted to have been dissatisfied with his work on X-Men in 2003, despite nearly being nominated for an Academy Award.
Digital Domain's technical director Sean C. Cunningham and lead compositor Claas Henke morphed Bruce Davison into a liquid figure for Kelly's mutation scene. Cunningham said, "There were many digital layers: water without refraction, water with murkiness, skin with and without highlights, skin with goo in it. When rendered together, it took 39 hours per frame." They considered showing Kelly's internal organs during the transformation, "but that seemed too gruesome", according to Cunningham.
Singer approached John Williams to compose the film score, but Williams turned down the offer because of scheduling conflicts. John Ottman was originally set as composer. Michael Kamen was eventually hired.
Hugh Jackman took cold showers to help him create the character Wolverine's trademark "berserk rage." Jackman had to undergo training from a hand-to-hand combat specialist to learn how to handle the Wolverine claws. Jackman's physique looks slightly different in different scenes because he was cast 1.5 months after principal photography had started and kept working out extensively while shooting continued and got his testicles caught in his harness after a 6 foot jump off the set's Statue of Liberty.
The control stick that Cyclops uses to pilot the X-Men jet is a CH brand "Flightstick Pro" computer joystick.
Bryan Singer had one of his stunt men, Scott Leva, dress in a Spider-Man suit and confront actors James Marsden (Cyclops), Famke Janssen (Jean Grey), and Halle Berry (Storm) on set one day as a joke. Leva had actually dressed up in an identical Spider-Man costume once before for Marvel Comics in 1985 for the cover of "The Amazing Spider-Man" comic book, issue #262. In the outtake, Spider-Man realizes that he's in the wrong movie, backs off and runs away, with Cyclops chasing after him shortly after. This can be seen as an "Easter Egg" on the first DVD edition of the movie, but not the "X-Men 1.5" DVD.
Despite being nearly 6 feet tall, James Marsden had to wear platform shoes so that he would appear taller than Hugh Jackman (6'2"). Marsden turned down a role in Soul Survivors (2001), in order to take part in this movie.
Many of the X-Men from the comics who don't have major roles in the film appear as minor characters in the school. Among them are: Jubilee, the Asian-American girl wearing a yellow jacket, hoop earrings with sunglasses above her forehead; Shadowcat, also known as Kitty Pryde; Colossus; Iceman, aka Bobby Drake, and Pyro. Kitty, Iceman and Pyro have major roles in the sequels.
George Buza, the trucker, portrayed the voice of Beast in the "X-Men" (1992) animated series.
After a defeated Storm re-enters the fight, Toad complains, "Don't you people ever die?" This is an in-joke since, in the comics, almost all of the characters featured have "died" at least once, then come back.
The character Kitty Pryde (the girl who walks through the wall) was originally named after a real-life girl X-Men artist John Byrne knew in Calgary, Canada. When the movie was released there, local media managed to track down the "real" Kitty Pryde.
Toad was originally a hunchback, but that was changed so as not to interfere with Ray Park's martial arts abilities.
The sunglasses Cyclops wears are Oakley "X-Metals", more specifically, the "Juliet" style with Ruby lenses. In keeping with the mythos of the comic book character, Cyclops must wear lenses with some form of ruby protection to contain his optic blasts which are uncontrollable without them.
Cameo: [Stan Lee] X-Men creator and executive producer is a man near a hot dog stand on the beach when Senator Kelly comes out of the water.
Cameo: [David Hayter] The writer appears as one of the cops near the end.
There were three types of Wolverine claws - plastic, wood, and steel - and more than 700 individual claw blades were used by Hugh Jackman and his four stunt doubles.
When in full Mystique makeup, about 60 percent of Rebecca Romijn's body was covered in prostheses.
Most of the eye effects were done by using special contact lenses that the actors found very uncomfortable to wear. Rebecca Romijn (Mystique) could only wear her lenses for an hour at a time and had only 10% vision. Halle Berry (Storm) was supposed to wear opaque white lenses for the scenes where she uses her weather-control powers. However, she found the lenses unbearable, so her eye effects had to be done entirely through CGI.
Ten Wolverine costumes were built out of thick leather and PVC, and were designed to take a beating. All of them were destroyed to some extent during filming.
The police officer stabbed by Sabertooth in front of the Statue of Liberty was played by D.B. Sweeney, who is a fan of the X-Men and had tried out for the part of Cyclops.
Michael Chabon was approached to write the script.
Senator Kelly's line at the beginning of the movie about having a list of known mutants living in the United States is based on Senator Joseph McCarthy's famous speech about having a list of known communists working in the State Department.
While the WGA credits approbation, several writers involved in writing the screenplay decided to not be credited, and 'David Hayter' received sole credit. The writers who contributed uncredited are: Ed Solomon, Christopher McQuarrie, Joss Whedon, James Schamus & John Logan.
After the film was completed, the wheelchair that the character Professor Xavier used was sold in an auction to Patrick Stewart's attorney, and then rented back by the production company for X2 (2003).
Wolverine's line, "What do they call you, 'Wheels?'" was an ad-lib by Hugh Jackman (the scripted line was, "What do they call you, Baldie?").
A scene appears in a TV spot for the film, but does not appear in the movie, of an extended talk between Scott Summers (James Marsden) and Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) regarding Logan's stay at the mansion. Scott tells the Professor "He's not one of us. There's no way he's going to take orders." Xavier politely replies, "Give him an order worth following. He'll take it." More of this extended scene appears in the official movie adaptation novels and books, but it was cut out of the final film to meet the allowed running time.
The bar scenes were shot in the same brewery as the concentration camp scenes.
The last scene shot in Canada as part of principal photography was the first scene in the movie - that of rain falling on mud in the concentration camp.
Neither Patrick Stewart nor Sir Ian McKellen know how to play chess.
Bryan Singer wrote the duologue between Wolverine and Cyclops when Cyclops refers to 'yellow spandex' specifically to have a dig at fans on the Internet who complained about the X-Men's costumes.
In the Hamilton location (the train station scenes), the director, Bryan Singer, was mistaken for an onlooker, and was harassed by a policeman, not letting him join the production team for some moments.
In the bar scene, after the fight where Wolverine gains some money, the guy behind the man that accuses Wolverine of cheating is Malcolm Nefsky, the film's best boy grip. Because of the way the scene was filmed, someone was needed to deliver the line, and he was called because no certified "extra" was nearby.
The last scenes to be shot were the ones where Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison) emerges from water (in Santa Monica, California). They were shot in early May, and the film was released on the last days of July.
The Mansion used as the Xavier school, is the same one Billy and his family lived in in Billy Madison (1995)
Joss Whedon wrote a draft version of the script, but the suggestions he made to fix what he felt were fundamental problems with the film were not incorporated. Only two pieces of dialogue from his rewrite appeared in the final film. One is the exchange when Cyclops doesn't know if Wolverine is an impostor ("Prove it!" "You're a dick"); the other is Storm's "Do you know what happens when a toad gets hit by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else." which he imagined as a lighthearted, offhand line.
During a scene with Rogue, it is possible to see Bobby "Iceman" Drake's breath even though it seems to be midsummer (an after effect of his ice-powers?). Fans noticed this detail and credited to director Bryan Singer's dedication to the story and the particulars of each character's powers. However, it was a mistake and never noticed nor intended for the film (in fact, the Iceman character is being impersonated by Mystique at the time). The effect was intentionally added to the story of the movie's sequel X2 (2003), however, when Iceman and Rogue share a kiss.
Senator Kelly calls his aide "Henry" several times and when he asks Magneto what he's done with Henry Magneto replies "Mr. Gyrich has been dead for some time." In the cartoon and in the comics Henry Gyrich was a member of several United States national security agencies, and was responsible for quite a bit of misery in the X-Men's lives, including causing Storm to lose her powers and ordering the creation of one of the many models of Sentinels.
The very first scene shot for the movie was the World Summit scene on Liberty Island where representatives from each country are greeted. Two of the guests (identified by Bryan Singer as king and queen of Poland) are played by Bryan Singer's father and stepmother.
Similar to Magneto's and Rogue's background segments, scenes explaining Storm's and Cyclops' backgrounds were scripted and storyboarded, but never shot. Storm's background segment involved her changing the weather drastically in her home country in Africa and causing vast damage; Cyclops' story would show him manifesting his mutant power at school as a teenager, causing him to accidentally destroy a school bathroom. There was a brief talk of shooting these scenes while shooting X2 (2003) in order to insert them into the X-Men Special Edition DVD, but the idea was later scrapped. However, the bathroom set (which had actually been built) was used for the scene in X2 where Mystique drugs Magneto's guard with a metal solution.
Rebecca Romijn's make-up process involved putting on more than 60 self-adhesive prosthetics developed specifically for the movie, followed by air-brushing the blue paint. The make-up team was reluctant in using food coloring for her make-up because of its difficulty to remove, but used it after discovering a new chemical that could very quickly and easily remove food coloring.
Tyler Mane kept the large black contact lenses in for too long one day and was blinded for a day and had to wear bandages.
In the late 1980s, Carolco Pictures bought the film rights of X-Men from Marvel. James Cameron was set to produce, along with his production company Lightstorm Entertainment, which was in line to distribute. Well-known X-Men Comic book writer Chris Claremont was involved in meetings with X-Men creator Stan Lee, James Cameron, and executives at Carolco about the project. After James Cameron moved on to the Spider-Man (2002) project and Carolco went bankrupt, the rights became available and were purchased by 20th Century Fox.
The song used for the teaser trailer is "Chinese Burn" by Curve.
Musician Glenn Danzig, whose muscular physique and height (5'4") almost perfectly matched the Wolverine character portrayed in the comic books, was interviewed for the role of Wolverine. A common myth has it that he was offered a part in the movie, but this confusion occurs largely because Danzig was actually offered the role some ten years earlier - when Carolco held the rights to an X-Men film and was considering a low-budget production. However, due to the high-budget and status of the 2000 production, as well as Danzig's age and relative lack of acting experience, and the requirement that the Wolverine actor be signed to a multi-picture deal spanning several years, it is highly unlikely that Danzig could have won the role in Bryan Singer's film. Regardless, a scheduling conflict prevented him from any subsequent pursuit of the role.
28 drafts of the script were written, and halfway through those drafts, the writers were still rewriting the whole story every time.
In order to keep her look a secret, Rebecca Romijn had to sit in an isolated, windowless room when not required for shooting. To celebrate her last day on set, Romijn brought in a bottle of tequila to do shots with her fellow cast and crew during a break in filming. Unfortunately, that day she happened to be filming the Wolverene/Mystique fight scene, and she threw up blue-colored vomit (from the chemicals in her make-up) all over Hugh Jackman.
Wary of the risk of starting an expensive franchise that could have died after just one film, Fox's studio executives assigned the film a budget of only $75 million, quite low for a big summer tent-pole release, when the average summer blockbuster budget at the time was upwards of $100 million.
Bryan Singer cast Halle Berry as Storm after seeing her performance in Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999).
Look for James Marsden's platform shoes as he scales the wall at Liberty Island, after leaving the X-Jet.
James V. Hart Walker was hired to write the script in 1994, but it was never used for the film.
Tim Burton was approached by a20th Century Fox to direct the movie but opting to direct Mars Attacks! (1996) instead.
Although he's reasonably tall, James Marsden, who plays Cyclops, had to stand on an apple box to appear taller next to one of the boys in the train station. As a prank, Tyler Mane, who plays Sabretooth, went into Marsden's trailer and set an apple box in his bathroom with a note - "This is so you can reach your sink."
The scene is the train station where the young boy smiles at Cyclops, and Cyclops smiles back was unplanned. The boy was a huge fan of the X-Men, and Cyclops was his favorite. The scene originally called for Cyclops to look at the train schedule, however, according to Bryan Singer, the boy could not stop smiling at James Marsden (the actor playing Cyclops). Finally, during one shot, Marsden just looked back at him and smiled, much to the boys delight. Bryan Singer liked the idea so much, he kept it in the film, and told the actress playing the boy's mother to react the way she did.
Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker wrote a draft of the screenplay, but with a different team of X-Men (Professor X, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Iceman, Angel, and new member Wolverine) and a different team roster for the Brotherhood of Mutants (Magneto, Toad, Sabretooth, Juggernaut, and new member Blob). Walker's draft was never used, but some of his dialog and scenes were included in the official novel adaptation books sold in stores.
When Logan complains about the X-Mens' uniforms, Cyclops replies "What would you prefer, yellow spandex?" This is a reference to the original X-Men comic, in which Wolverine's uniform consisted of yellow tights.
This is the first film based on a marvel comic that Stan Lee provides a cameo for.
Early posters for the film credited the screenplay to Christopher McQuarrie and 'Ed Solomon'.
Many other directors who were considered to direct the movie included Richard Donner, John McTiernan, Danny Boyle, Stephen Hopkins, Joel Schumacher and Irvin Kershner.
The opening caption notes that this film, released in the year 2000, in its main action takes place in "the near future". However, in a giveaway prequel comic book involving the Silver Samurai and Wolverine, set just before the main action of this film, that story gave the year as 2000.
Patrick Stewart had been a fan favorite to play Dr. Charles Xavier for over a decade before the film was cast. In 1998 a licensed novel called Planet X brought together the characters of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987) and the X-Men, and notes the physical similarities of Jean-Luc Picard and Charles Xavier, both played by Stewart.
Shortly after accepting the role of Magneto, Ian McKellen was offered the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, which originally he had to decline. He spoke to Bryan Singer about his interest in making Lord of the Rings, and Singer agreed to rearrange the film's shooting schedule so that McKellen would finish his scenes by the end of 1999, freeing him up to travel to New Zealand in January 2000, where Lord of the Rings had been in production since October 1999.
At the 2000 San Diego Comic Con, Bryan Singer mentioned that the fan favorite mutant Gambit was a character he almost had in the movie as a child playing basketball but he wasn't able to fit him in. Gambit appears in the non-Singer spin-off movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).
Near the end, during the Wolverine/Mystique fight scene, there is a moment where Mystique kicks Wolverine in the groin. At that moment, there is a metallic 'ping' (similar to the one in the beginning when the man in the cage match punches Wolverine's fist), which is probably an 'in-joke' to Wolverine having 'balls of steel' (or in this case, adamantium).