Joss Whedon wrote a draft of the script, but it got rejected, because according to Whedon, it had a "quick-witted, pop-culture referencing tone" which didn't fit the X-Men. Only two lines of dialogue from his script were used in the final film: the exchange between Cyclops and Wolverine when Cyclops suspects he is Mystique; and Storm's statement about "what happens to a toad when it is struck by lightning." Ironically, Whedon's X-Men comic "Gifted" would be a major inspiration for X-Men: The Last Stand (2006); furthermore, Whedon himself would go on to direct The Avengers (2012), another Marvel superhero team.
Hugh Jackman took ice cold showers every morning of filming, in order to help get into character. This tradition started when jumping into the shower at 5 a.m., before realizing there was no hot water. Shocked awake, but not wanting to wake his sleeping wife, he gritted his teeth and bore it, before realizing that this mindset, wanting to scream and lash out at something, but having to hold it in, was the mentality that Wolverine is in constantly. He then made cold showers his Wolverine preparation routine for each film featuring the character.
Shortly after accepting the role of Magneto, Sir 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 The 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 The Lord of the Rings had been in production since October 1999.
(at around 52 mins) The scene in the train station where a young boy smiles at Cyclops and he smiles back was unplanned. The boy was a huge X-Men fan, and Cyclops was his favorite. The scene originally called for Cyclops to look at the train schedule, but according to Bryan Singer, the boy could not stop smiling at James Marsden. Finally, during one shot, Marsden just looked back at him and smiled, much to the boy's 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.
Rebecca Romijn' make-up, as Mystique, consisted of one hundred ten custom-designed prostheses, which covered sixty percent of her body, and took nine hours to apply. She could not drink wine, use skin creams, nor fly the day before filming, because it could have caused her body chemistry to change slightly, causing the prosthetics to fall off.
To celebrate her last day on-set, Rebecca Romijn brought in a bottle of tequila, which she gave to her fellow cast and crew during a break in filming. Unfortunately, that day she happened to be filming the Wolverine and Mystique fight scene, and she threw up blue-colored vomit (from the chemicals in her make-up) all over Hugh Jackman.
In order to keep her look a secret, Rebecca Romijn had to sit in an isolated, windowless room when not required for shooting: "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."
Most of the eye effects were achieved by the actors wearing special contact lenses. However, the cast found these lenses uncomfortable and dangerous to wear: Rebecca Romijn could only wear her Mystique lenses for one hour at a time, and had only ten percent vision; Tyler Mane kept his Sabretooth lenses in for too long, and ended up getting blinded for a day; and Halle Berry wore her opaque white Storm lenses only once, found them unbearable, and insisted she have CGI for her eyes.
(at around 1h 9 mins) In the comics, the X-Men wore a distinctive blue-gold uniform, but the filmmakers revised the uniform to black leather suits. Tom DeSanto explained that test designs of the X-Men in their blue-gold outfits were unsuccessful, and Bryan Singer noted that durable black leather made more sense for the X-Men to wear as protective clothing. Despite support from Stan Lee and Chris Claremont, many fans were upset about the change in costumes, so Bryan Singer added dialogue referring to the issue. When Wolverine complains about the uniforms, Cyclops replies "What would you prefer, yellow spandex?" The blue-gold uniforms would appear in the prequel X: First Class (2011), and more comic book-inspired costumes appear in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016).
Although Rogue had been a relatively minor character in X-Men lore, Bryan Singer made Rogue a pivotal character in the film, because her ability to drain people and nearly kill them, was the most symbolic of alienation.
Hugh Jackman's physique looks slightly different in different scenes, because he was cast three weeks after principal photography had started, and kept working out extensively while shooting continued.
Bryan Singer turned down the film three times, believing that comic books were unintelligent literature. However, after reading the X-Men comics, and watching X-Men (1992), he found the story's themes of prejudice and discrimination compelling, and finally agreed to do a live-action movie.
Bryan Singer had one of his stuntmen, Scott Leva, dress in a Spider-Man suit and confront 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.
James Marsden (Cyclops) found his character to be particularly difficult, as his eyes were shielded throughout. Most actors find a great deal of their performance comes from the expressiveness of their eyes.
In an interview with MTV News' Josh Horowitz, Hugh Jackman admits that when he initially took on the role as Wolverine, he studied wolves to develop his character, since he thought that Wolverine must allude to wolves. Bryan Singer later explained to him that a wolverine is a different kind of animal. It is the largest species of badger, and is found in Northern Europe and some parts of North America.
As Singer is a huge fan of the various Star Trek films and television shows, Sir Patrick Stewart was Bryan Singer's only choice for the role of Professor X. Though, other, more "bankable" actors, lobbied for the role, Singer always felt only Stewart (who had long been a fan favorite) could play the part.
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 hometown in Kenya 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 (which was later shot and used in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)). 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: X-Men United (2003), where Grace drugs the drunken guard. Scenes of Storm and Cyclops as children were eventually filmed for X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) (although Storm's were deleted from the final print), as well as short clips for X: First Class (2011).
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, a.k.a. Bobby Drake, and Pyro. Kitty, Iceman, and Pyro have major roles in the sequels, although Kitty and Pyro both change actress and actor.
Gambit was originally going to make a cameo appearance in the film, as a student playing with a basketball and then blowing it up (Gambit's power was to charge an object with kinetic energy, forcing it to explode). Bryan Singer rejected the cameo, thinking the audience wouldn't understand it: "People would be like, what's wrong with those basketballs?" Gambit eventually appeared in the prequel X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009).
(at around 1h 16 mins) Toad complains upon failing to kill Storm, "Don't you people ever die?" This is an allusion to the X-Men comics recurring gimmick, of having a character die, and then be brought back to life by supernatural or scientific means, which has been done for nearly every main character in the series.
Originally, Dr. Hank "Beast" McCoy was going to be in the final film, but was cut out to be saved for the sequels, and some of his professions were incorporated into Jean Grey: a medical doctor, and a political supporter of mutant rights. McCoy makes it into the franchise, in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006).
In the comics, Rogue has Paragon abilities (Flight, Superstrength, Invulnerablity, Speed, and seven senses) from Ms. Marvel. However, Ms. Marvel's cinematic rights do not belong to 20th Century Fox, and therefore Rogue could not have any abilities or storyline related to her.
(at around 53 mins) When Wolverine first confronts Magneto, the initial look of shock at Magneto's entrance, was a result of Hugh Jackman's fear of what was happening around him. He was told Magneto would tear open the train car. He thought this meant ripping off the door, not half of the train being literally pulled apart by hydraulics. He mentioned having to study that shot when doing the reaction shots, so he could reproduce all the various twitches and tics he went through.
A deleted scene appears in a television ad for the film, showing an extended talk between Scott Summers and Professor Xavier 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." The full scene appears in the official movie adaptation book forms.
Wary of the risk of starting an expensive franchise, that could have died after just one film, 20th Century Fox's studio executives assigned the film a budget of only seventy-five million dollars, quite low for a big summer tent-pole release, when the average summer blockbuster budget at the time, was upwards of one hundred million dollars.
Rebecca Romijn' make-up process involved putting on one hundred ten 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 its difficult to remove, but used it after discovering a new chemical that could very quickly and easily remove food coloring.
Reports suggest that the actual script of the movie didn't have Wolverine saying "bub", but Hugh Jackman, as a fan of the character, threw it in. Some reports state that he actually "threw it in" many, many times. They just only kept some of them.
This is the only film in the franchise, in which the actress playing Mystique (Rebecca Romijn or Jennifer Lawrence) never appears sans make-up as one of her own disguises. In all subsequent films, Romijn and Lawrence have made a "disguise" appearance, with both appearing as disguises of the same form of Mystique in X: First Class (2011).
At first, Sir Patrick Stewart hadn't heard of X-Men. He thought it was related to The X-Files (1993). The studio shipped him a crate of comics. Stewart called it "the most fun research I've ever had to do."
Terence Stamp, David Hemblen, and Sir Christopher Lee were considered for the role of Magneto. Ultimately, Bryan Singer chose Sir Ian McKellen for the role, who had acted in Singer's previous film Apt Pupil (1998), and as an activist for gay rights, understood the role well: "Ian responded to the allegory of mutants as outsiders, disenfranchised, and alone, and coming to all that at puberty, when their differences manifest." Hemblen voiced the character in the 90s X-Men cartoon.
The sunglasses Cyclops wears are known as Oakley "X-Metals" ("Juliet") with Ruby lenses. This is an homage to the comics, where Cyclops can only wear sunglasses and visors with ruby or quartz lenses to stabilize and absorb the energy from his eyes.
The Danger Room, a training facility at Xavier's Mansion, was going to be in the film. However, the filmmakers, after a lot of debate, cut it out of the script to make the film move faster. The Danger Room was slated to appear in X2 (2003), but again was cut out, due to budget restrictions. It would finally appear in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and X-Men: Apocalypse (2016).
In the comics, there is a mutant named Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat), who was named after a former classmate of X-Men Writer John Byrne. When this film was released, reporters tracked down Pryde in Calgary to interview her about the film (she has now changed her name to K.D. Pryde, and states that she appreciates the comics, but wishes to be known as more than just a heroine's namesake). The comic book Pryde appears in the X-Men franchise, but is played by different actresses (Sumela Kay, Katie Stuart, Ellen Page) and only has a major role in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014).
Originally slated for a Christmas 2000 release, the film was bumped up to June 2000 as 20th Century Fox had an unexpected hole in their schedule, as Steven Spielberg had opted not to make Minority Report (2002) at that time.
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 Professor Charles Xavier and Starship Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Sir Patrick Stewart had played Picard and Xavier.
(at around 30 mins) Just before Senator Kelly gets out of his limo amidst a fury of protesters, one of the protesters is holding a sign that reads, "Send the Mutants to the Moon!" This is a reference to the comic storyline where they fight on the moon, and is how Jean Grey accidentally connects with the Phoenix entity in outer space.
The 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 (jokingly identified by Bryan Singer as King and Queen of Poland, titles which have not legally existed since 1795) are played by Singer's father and stepmother.
The actors' leather costumes were so stiff, that for several takes, nobody could get over a two-foot wall in one scene. James Marsden quipped, "You couldn't feel less like a superhero in these costumes."
This is the only X-Men film that ends with a fade-out. All of the other films have ended with a quick cut due to a reveal, or a twist, and X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) ended with the Cerebro doors closing shut.
In 1996, Michael Chabon wrote a draft of the script: the X-Men (Professor X, Cyclops, Jean Gray, Beast, Iceman, Storm, Nightcrawler, and new members Wolverine and Jubilee) would face off against a phantom menace (the Brotherhood, who wouldn't reveal themselves until the sequel), with major focus on the relationship between Wolverine and Jubilee.
In 1994, Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker wrote a draft of the script: the X-Men (Professor X, Cyclops, Jean Gray, Beast, Iceman, Angel, and new member Wolverine) must stop the Brotherhood of Mutants (Magneto, Sabretooth, Toad, and new member the Blob) from conquering New York City, while at the same time are set upon by a triplet of Sentinels, robots created by anti-mutant government officials Peter Henry Gyrich and Boliver Trask. The script focused on the rivalry between Cyclops and Wolverine, and had Magneto the cause of the Chernobyl disaster; also included was the X-Copter and the Danger Room. The script was never used, but dialogue and plot elements were used in the film's official novel adaptation.
(at around 4 mins) 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.
There is a mutant in the X-Men comics named Sauron, who named himself after the antagonist in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" novel. Sir Ian McKellen portrayed Gandalf in Peter Jackson's adaptation of the novel in-between portrayals of Magneto in the X-Men film franchise.
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 approximately 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 this film. Regardless, a scheduling conflict prevented him from any subsequent pursuit of the role.
Bryan Singer's first choice to play Wolverine was Russell Crowe, but Crowe turned it down, because he didn't want to play another role similar to Maximus from Gladiator (2000). Crowe felt the characters were too similar, by having the same animal totem, the wolf, and thought the movie was a cartoon, which isn't his cup of tea. He would later go on to play Superman's father Jor-El in Man of Steel (2013).
Sir Ian McKellen was cast early on. In the 1970s, he and Sir Patrick Stewart acted together in the Royal Shakespeare Company. Stewart said he used their relationship: "There was a connection made between us, history and trust."
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 Cameron moved on to a Spider-Man project in the mid-1990s (which ultimately never happened) and Carolco went bankrupt, the rights became available, and were purchased by 20th Century Fox.
(at around 21 mins) On his desk, Magneto has a variation on Newton's Cradle, minus the strings. This is the device where one lifts one chrome ball off to the side, releases it, lets it hit the other four balls, and then sees the energy transferred when the last ball on the opposite side moves. The original device was sculpted by Richard Loncraine, who directed Sir Ian McKellen in Richard III (1995).
When early production for the movie began in the early 1990s, James Cameron was considering being producer, while his then wife and fellow filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow would direct. They were even considering Bob Hoskins as Wolverine, Michael Biehn as Cyclops, Sir Christopher Lee as Magneto, and Angela Bassett as Storm. But the deal fell apart after Stan Lee piqued Cameron's interest to make a Spider-Man film with Biehn as Peter Parker, which never happened either.
Angela Bassett was considered for the role of Storm, who in the comics married the African king superhero T'Challa, a.k.a. the Black Panther. She stars in Black Panther (2018) as T'Challa's mother Queen Ramonda.
Rogue (Anna Paquin), a mutant, has the ability to absorb human's essences and other mutant's powers when she touches them. This foreshadows Anna Paquin starring in the television series True Blood (2008), in which she stars as a woman who falls in love with a vampire.
Wolverwine's real name is Logan. In another 20th Century Fox science fiction film, The Fly II (1989), the film's lead female character, Beth Logan (Daphne Zuniga), falls in love with Martin Brundle (Eric Stoltz), the offspring of the mutant creature Brundlefly. Incidentally, Logan is from Canada, and The Fly II (1989) was filmed in Canada.
Malcolm Nefsky: (at around 13 mins) After the amateur boxing match in Alberta, 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.
Gary Goddard: (at around 43 mins) The Director of Masters of the Universe (1987) is one of the men watching Senator Kelly emerge from the ocean. Singer and Goddard are good friends, and before production, Singer sought out Goddard's advice on directing "a comic book movie".
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
at around 1h 11 mins) James Marsden, despite being nearly six feet tall, had to wear platform shoes to appear taller than Hugh Jackman, who was six feet two inches; these platform shoes can be clearly seen as Cyclops scales the wall at Liberty Island. He also had to stand on an apple box to appear taller next to one of the boys at the train station; as a prank, Tyler Mane set up an apple box in Marsden's trailer bathroom with a note: "This is so you can reach your sink."
at around 44 mins) When Mystique impersonates Iceman (Bobby Drake) to make Rogue leave the school, it is possible to see Bobby's breath, even though the film appears to be set in midsummer. This trait, an after-effect of Bobby's ability, was widely appreciated by fans, and seen as Bryan Singer's dedication to the X-Men franchise. However, it is now more accepted as an error, since it was Mystique's impersonation. The effect was, however, intentionally added into X2 (2003) when Iceman and Rogue share a kiss.
at around 1h 15 mins) Near the end, during the Wolverine and 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".
Mystique impersonates Senator Kelly's aide Henry Gyrich, who is later found dead. 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.
at around 1h 30 mins) If you listen carefully during the newscast at the end of the film, you hear the announcer saying that Henry Gyrich's body was found and the coroners assumed he was mauled by a bear. This suggests he was killed by Sabretooth.
The filmmakers thought the treatment by Tom DeSanto and Bryan Singer was perfect, as it took seriously the social issues the X-Men comics were noted for reflecting: Senator Kelly's proposal of a Mutant Registration Act echoes the efforts of U.S. Congress' efforts to ban Communism in the United States. Kelly brandishes a list of known mutants, and exclaims "We must know who these mutants are and what they can do!", a paraphrase of Senator Joseph McCarthy, who claimed to have a list of known American Communists working in the government. Kelly further questions whether mutants should be allowed to teach children in school, which mirrors the Section 28 issue (the banning of homosexual teachers in United Kingdom schools, against which Sir Ian McKellen protested). A deleted scene has Storm teaching a historical lesson about how Emperor Constantine's decree in 312 A.D. ended the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire, and eventually led to Christians becoming the majority, which foreshadows Magneto's plot to force world leaders to accept mutant-kind by mutating them. Magneto talks about the Act having mutants "in chains, with a number burned into their forehead". The situation he describes, is similar to what happened to Jews and other nonconformists in Nazi Germany (which Magneto himself experiences in the first scenes). Magneto's last lines contain the phrase "By any means necessary." This phrase was coined by civil rights revolutionary Malcolm X. The relationship between Magneto and Professor X has been compared, respectively, to that of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, both of whom held differing philosophical views.
Visual Effects Director Sean C. Cunningham and Compositor Claas Henke morphed Bruce Davison into a liquid figure for Senator Kelly's mutation and mutant scenes. Cunningham said it was an arduous job back then, that took thirty-nine hours per frame: "There were many digital layers: water without refraction, water with murkiness, skin with and without highlights, skin with goo in it." They considered showing Kelly's internal organs during the transformation, but Cunningham thought that seemed too gruesome.
The final scene, in which which Professor Xavier plays a game of Chess with Magneto, Magneto asks Professor Xavier about waking up in the middle of the night over a feeling that they will come for him and the children, and what would he do? This is a foreshadowing of X2 (2003), in which Professor Xavier is abducted by Major William Stryker, and Stryker's military force raids Xavier's school in the middle of the night, and several children are captured.
In the timeline of the cinematic X-Men franchise, which is later established in X: First Class (2011), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) and X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009). The film takes place forty-one years after the formation of the X-Men in X-Men: First Class (2011), forty years after Mystique assassinated Bolivar Trask in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), and twenty-four years after Wolverine is injected with Adamantium and loses his memory in X-Men: Origins: Wolverwine (2009). However, X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) takes place in a reset timeline, due to Wolverine being sent back through time from 2023 to 1973 to prevent Bolivar Trask's assassination in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). Young Professor X and the X-Men, battle Apocalypse in an alternate 1983 in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), which takes place ten years after X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014).
Rogue's boyfriend in this movie was called David (the boy she kisses when her powers triggered). In the comics, Rogue's boyfriend was called Cody Robbins, and he was later used in a plot by Bella Donna Boudreaux to kill Rogue. Altough the plot failed, it ended in Cody's death.
The prequel X-Men: First Class (2011) reveals that Wolverwine had met Professor Xavier and Magneto before, but Wolverwine doesn't remember due to his amnesia, which Professor Xavier and Magneto approached Wolverwine at a bar and offered him to join the newly formed X-Men, but Wolverwine rejected the offer and told them to go F themselves.