It’s fairly common knowledge that filmmaker James Cameron spent many a year attached to a movie adaptation of Marvel’s Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, but now acclaimed comic book writer Chris Claremont has revealed how close Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment were to developing an X-Men feature film, which would have been produced by Cameron and directed by his then-wife Kathryn Bigelow.
“Just think about this for a minute: James Cameron’s X-Men. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. That’s what we were playing,” stated Claremont, who is best known for his popular 17-year run on The Uncanny X-Men, which brought forth classic tales such as the ‘Dark Phoenix’ saga. “So we’re chatting. And at one point Stan Lee looks at Cameron and says, ‘I hear you like Spider-Man.’ Cameron’s eyes lit up. And they start talking. And talking. And talking. About 20 minutes later all the Lightstorm guys and I are looking at each other, and we all know the X-Men deal has just evaporated. Kathryn goes off and writes a screen treatment for X-Men that was eaten alive by all the idiots who have a piece of Spider-Man because Marvel during its evolution has sold off the rights time and time and time again. To Carolco. To Universal. To this to that. To Fox. It was just a nightmare.”
Cameron – who at that point was coming off a trio of 80s sci-fi successes in The Terminator, Aliens and The Abyss not to mention the blockbuster sequel Terminator 2: Judgement Day – remained attached to the Spider-Man adaptation for a number of years, during which time he met with his future Titanic star Leonardo DiCaprio for the role of Peter Parker. Nevertheless, the project eventually fell apart due to the collapse of rights holders Carolco in 1996, resulting to a prolonged legal battle over the film rights that was won by Sony, which ultimately led to the arrival of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man in 2002, and – in just a few short months – the Marc Webb-directed reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man.
Two years before Spidey swung his way onto movie screens, the X-Men had made their cinematic debut under Bryan Singer, launching a franchise that has subsequently went through the hands of directors Brett Ratner (X-Men: The Last Stand), Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class), with James Mangold (The Wolverine) next in line. Meanwhile Cameron went on to shatter box-office records with both Titanic and Avatar, the former bringing him a Best Director / Best Director double at the Academy Awards – a feat also repeated by Kathryn Bigelow with The Hurt Locker.
As noted by The Wrap, Claremont has previously stated that his ideal casting choice for Wolverine would have been Bob Hoskins (The Long Good Friday), with Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got to Do with It) portraying Storm. However, the thought of a James Cameron X-Men movie really does throw up some interesting casting possibilities… How about Michael Biehn as Cyclops? Linda Hamilton as Jean Grey? Lance Henriksen as Magneto? Arnold Schwarzenegger as Professor X? Okay, so I’m kidding with the last one, but I’m struggling to find roles for the likes of Arnie, Bill Paxton, Sigourney Weaver and Jenette Goldstein, so feel free to help me out here…