New insights into the original X-Men movie have surfaced, thanks to a retrospective on the film's release, twenty years later. A publication reached out to X-Men movies producer Lauren Shuler Donner and others involved with making X-Men, to examine how the film paved the way for the more serious big-budget takes on Marvel superheroes. One of the biggest takeaways from the conversation was a list of famous screenwriters that actually took a crack at the X-Men script. That list includes now-famous names like Christopher McQuarrie (Mission: Impossible 7), and Joss Whedon (Marvel's The Avengers), among some greats of the past.
In addition to Chris McQuarrie and Joss Whedon, Donner revealed to Observer that Se7en writer Andrew Kevin Walker, Men In Black / Bill & Ted writer Ed Solomon, and Transformers writer Tom DeSanto attempted to write the X-Men script.
That's an interesting list to consider, to say the least. One can only imagine how hard-hitting and gritty McQuarrie's Wolverine was, or how many in-jokes and campiness Whedon pumped into his script. It's terrifying to imagine what kind of haunting tale of pain and persecution Walker put together (his "God Loves, Man Kills" would be epic) - or alternatively, how silly and outlandish Solomon's vision would've been. Tom DeSanto's X-Men seems like it would've been the only real "studio friendly" vision in the bunch - which is probably why he ended up getting a story credit.
Ultimately, the script credits for X-Men would go to David Hayter. Hayter managed to thread the needle of grounding the X-Men's fantastical world with real drama and character development; he also plotted a superhero story that felt big and cinematic, despite the industry's lack of experience creating convincing live-action comic book visuals. We're talking about a time where it took most people 30 minutes+ just to download and watch the first X-Men trailer. Not only did Hayter get the X-Men onscreen in a compelling way, he launched an entire franchise that's still hot (and back home at Marvel Studios), while proving the case for an entire blockbuster comic book movie genre in the 21st century.
David Hayter may have gotten his big screenwriting break with his X-Men script, but he already had a lot of industry cred, having voiced Solid Snake in the Metal Gear Solid video games, and starring in the sequel film Guyver: Dark Hero in the '90s. Hayter would write the scripts for both X-Men and X2, which many fans still hold as two of the best entries in the now-expansive franchise. Hayter is still getting in on the fun by voicing the King Shark character on the Arrowverse Flash TV series and working on Netflix's new Warrior Nun series.