The “X-Men” franchise may have looked much different if the comics’ most celebrated writer had gotten his way: Chris Claremont wanted Bob Hoskins, who died Tuesday, to play Wolverine.
Claremont is the writer responsible for the most famous “X-Men” storylines, including the “Days of Future Past” story that inspired the new film of the same title. A decade before Bryan Singer brought the Marvel Comics mutants to the screen, Claremont envisioned an X-movie produced by James Cameron, directed by Cameron’s then-wife Kathryn Bigelow, and starring Hoskins (pictured) as Wolverine and Angela Bassett as Storm.
“James Cameron, Bob Hoskins, Angela Bassett — ahhh. Fanboy heaven. I would have been happy as a clam,” Claremont said at a 2012 Columbia University panel to commemorate giving his archives to the school.
In the comics, Claremont noted, Wolverine is short and feral, hence his animalistic name. Claremont recalled a scene in the 1984 film “Lassiter” in which Hoskins pushes open a door and shoves the much taller Tom Selleck, while berating him.
Claremont said that in that moment, Hoskins captured the essence of Wolverine.
“Just think about this for a minute: James Cameron’s X-Men. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. That’s what we were playing,” Claremont said.
But it quickly fell apart when Lee brought up another possible project.
“So we’re chatting. And at one point Stan 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.”
After he and Bigelow divorced, Cameron went on to win best picture and directing Oscars for “Titanic.” Bigelow beat Cameron’s “Avatar” to win best picture and directing Oscars for “The Hurt Locker.”
The “X-Men” franchise, featuring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, has made more than $2.3 billion worldwide. The “Spider-Man” franchise and its reboot have made nearly $3.4 billion. And both movies have new installments debuting next month.
Still, we can imagine what might have been.