These days we’re used to Marvel being the blockbuster juggernaut it is, though lately, we’ve had a bit too much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But back in the ’80s, DC and Warner Bros. were ruling the comic book adaptation market, after 1978’s “Superman” and 1989’s “Batman.” But that didn’t mean Marvel wasn’t trying to get their heroes onto the big screen. 1986’s “Howard the Duck” — which actually wasn’t the first time Marvel tried to adapt their IP — might have been a box office flop, but it hinted at Marvel’s desire to compete with some cinematic projects of its own.
An “X-Men” movie was one of those projects. Development had begun on a movie based on the mutants as early as 1984, but it wasn’t until writer Gary Goldman, famous for his work on films such as “Total Recall” and “Big Trouble in Little China,” penned a script that the whole thing seemed like it could actually get off the ground. The draft screenplay, entitled “Wolverine and the X-Men” can be found online, dated June 18, 1991. If you take a look at the cover page, you’ll see that the script names Lightstorm Entertainment — James Cameron’s production company which he launched in 1990 — and Carolco Pictures.
According to The Wrap, which covered comic book writer and “X-Men” legend Chris Claremont speaking at a 2012 Columbia University panel, this “X-Men” project was set to be directed by Cameron’s then-wife Katherine Bigelow, with Cameron producing. The book “MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios,” reveals how Claremont and Marvel legend Stan Lee went to Cameron’s office to discuss the “X-Men” movie, but that very meeting would be the beginning of the end for the project.