Welcome to the four hundred and twenty-ninth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and twenty-eight. This week, in honor of his new film, it is an All-Wolverine Edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed! What was the REAL reason why Dougray Scott lost the role of Wolverine in X-Men? Was Apocalypse really behind Weapon X? And how did an unused design for Wolverine’s face lead to Sabretooth’s creation?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Hugh Jackman got the role of Wolverine due to Dougray Scott being unable to do the role due to an injury.
It is pretty well known that Hugh Jackman was not the original actor cast as Wolverine in 2000’s X-Men…
It was Dougray Scott….
However, there still remains confusion over WHY Scott had to back out. Even Jackman repeats the story that:
Yes, the director, Bryan Singer, originally wanted Dougray Scott, but he got injured and Bryan couldn’t delay forever. I had auditioned for the role. When Bryan called me, they were already shooting. So I did another test and was hired on the spot.
This is PARTIALY true, in the sense that Scott was, indeed, injured on the set of his previous movie, Mission Impossible II, but the injury was a minor one. Scott talked about it a few years ago:
It was one of the easiest shots: I was coming round a corner and I just had to stop the bike. But the seventh time I did it there was some gravel on the road and the front wheel just skidded. I rolled off into the curb and hurt my shoulder, but I stood up. Panicky faces all around me, I tell you, but we didn’t lose any time.
Instead, the simple fact of the matter is that Mission Impossible II took longer to film than intended. Scott was needed on the X-Men set on October 18th 1999 at the very latest. Mission Impossible II continued filming into DECEMBER of that year.
Scott blamed poor weather and director John Woo’s slow filming technique for the delays, but I’ve also seen it argued that the star of the film, Tom Cruise, had some issues with the script, leading to re-shoots well into December.
Whatever the actual reason for the delay on Mission Impossible II, it was NOT that Scott was injured. That much is clear from every contemporary report on the film and everything written about the film since then. The only real place that the “Scott was injured and couldn’t do X-Men” angle has been repeated is Jackman interviews (I assume that Bryan Singer or someone DID tell Jackman that at the time, but they were just mistaken).
Check out some Entertainment and Sports Urban Legends Revealed!
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On the next page, was Apocalypse originally behind Weapon X and Wolverine’s adamantium skeleton?
COMIC LEGEND: Apocalypse was intended to be the brains behind Weapon X in Barry Windsor-Smith’s Weapon X storyline.
Barry Windsor-Smith had worked with Chris Claremont closely on a number of X-Men projects during the 1980s, so when Windsor-Smith was given the chance to write an origin story for Wolverine in the pages of Marvel Comics Presents, he did not want to irk his friend and colleague by messing with anything Claremont had planned. He then talked to Claremont and later relayed that conversation to Wizard for their 1996 Wolverine Tribute issue:
I had a conversation with Chris Claremont in which he told me that he had always intended for Apocalypse to be the villain behind the adamantium experiment. For no reason other than courtesy to Chris, I devised the situation where the professor in the story was taking his orders from a higher-up. Despite this hindrance to my plot, I felt it best to give Chris the chance to eventually fulfill his wish to have Apocalypse be the real villain behind the adamantium experiment. Chris never got the chance to do his ultimate origin for Wolverine, but know that whenever the professor is being belittled by the guy at the other end of the phone in Weapon X, it’s Apocalypse.”
If you noticed, a couple of years earlier, when Wolverine encountered Archangel (who had been given metal wings by Apocalypse) it sure seemed like there was some kind of connection there…
And in a 1990 Graphic Novel by Walter Simonson and Mike Mignola…
So Windsor-Smith had all the reason to believe that this was going to be the ultimate reveal.
Here is one of the aforementioned phone calls in Weapon X…
However, like many X-Men subplots before it, Apocalypse being behind Weapon X never actually became a reality.
Thanks to reader Brent R. for asking about this one a few years back!
Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed also involving Barry Windsor-Smith!
Was there a third part of LifeDeath that Barry Windsor-Smith just released on his own (altering the characters, of course)?
On the next page, how did a rejected Wolverine facial design lead to the creation of Sabretooth?
An interesting aspect about a lot of comic book creators is that a lot of them are comic book fans themselves and follow the adventures of characters in other books. Almost certainly, then, while reading these other comics these creators all have ideas of what THEY’D do if they ever got a chance to work on the other books. That was something that John Byrne likely took into consideration back in 1976 while he was working on Iron Fist with writer Chris Claremont. He knew Claremont was writing X-Men with artist Dave Cockrum and Byrne knew that so far the character Wolverine (who Byrne always had a certain affinity for, considering that both he and Wolverine were Canadian) had not taken off his mask.
So Byrne designed an idea of what he thought Wolverine would look like.
Here it is, courtesy of JohnByrneSays…
He sent it to Claremont, who informed him that Cockrum had already designed a face for Wolverine.
Byrne then put away the design. A year later, though, Claremont was planning a new character named Sabretooth. Byrne took out his old design and with some slight alterations, they used it for Sabretooth.
Amusingly enough, both men were then inspired by the design to believe that maybe Sabretooth and Wolverine were RELATED, a story that I’ve featured in the past in Comic Book Legends Revealed. Isn’t it funny how these things evolve? A rejected design leads instead to the design of a new character which in turn leads to a connection between two characters that eventually became one of the great comic book rivalries of the 1980s and 1990s!
Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed also involving John Byrne!
Did Howard Mackie and John Byrne ALSO plan on erasing the marriage between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson?
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is email@example.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!
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See you all next week!