It’s hard to understate how much 2000’s X-Men influenced the modern Marvel movie landscape. Today, the black leather costumes and comic-inaccurate casting (why is Wolverine so tall?) seem quaint, but in 2000 the movie successfully helped the viewing public transition from The Matrix to more straightforward comic movies like Spider-Man. In fact, the biggest embarrassment for X-Men is its director Bryan Singer, who has been the subject of many sexual abuse allegations. But Singer wasn’t the first choice of 20th Century Fox. Before Singer, they contacted Paul W.S. Anderson, hot off the hit video game adaptation Mortal Kombat.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Anderson explained that he was in a “genius” phase after Mortal Kombat‘s success. “The way Hollywood tends to work is, when you have a big hit, you’re a genius, and then, as soon as you have a failure, you’re an idiot,” Anderson said. Because Hollywood saw him as “the new kid on the block,” Anderson “got offered a lot of things … and certainly X-Men was one of them.” But the director saw too many similarities between his last project and Marvel’s merry band of mutants. “Mortal Kombat wasn’t a comic book movie per se, but it had a kind of comic book feel to it, because it was based on the video game, so I didn’t really want to jump back into that,” Anderson recalled.
It’s hard to argue that Anderson made the wrong decision. In 2002, he returned to the world of video games to make Resident Evil and remained involved with the next five entries of the fan-favorite franchise. Even if they aren’t topping the box office, his movies tend to turn a profit and develop cult followings.
“That’s particularly true of the movie he chose to make over X-Men, 1997’s Event Horizon. “Event Horizon spoke to movies I had loved as just a film geek,” Anderson told EW. “It was a haunted house movie, like Robert Wise’s The Haunting or The Shining, it was also a scary outer-space movie like Alien.” Thanks to its unique setting, gnarly effects, and captivating performances from leads Sam Neill and Laurence Fishburne, Event Horizon earned its place as a staple of 90s horror.
The movie’s popularity has led to incessant calls for an extended cut, restoring the footage that Paramount forced Andreson to cut (“But we’re the studio that makes Star Trek!,” he recalled executives exclaiming). But he insists that the deleted scenes cannot be recovered, as the original film has been long since destroyed. “[I]t’s just not there,” Anderson flatly explained. “I think to really reinstitute what the old cut was, you’d need to probably do what they did with the Snyder Cut where you have to go and shoot some material again.”
It remains to be seen if Anderson will ever get the money to make his vision of Event Horizon, but as Disney is currently forgetting 2000’s X-Men in favor of their own reboot, it’s clear that the sci-fi horror movie will last longer in the public imagination.