2000’s X-Men is often lauded as the first modern superhero movie as – apart from perhaps 1998’s Blade – it was the first of the genre to really take its characters seriously. Sure, there are a few tonally-off moments (most famously, the “toad struck by lightning” line), but overall it treated Professor Xavier and his students with respect, paving the way for many other movies to do the same.
It seems that part of this approach came from how dedicated director Bryan Singer was to avoid capturing a comic book feel. While talking all things Marvel with MTV, the one and only Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman revealed that he had to read comics under the radar as Singer was so adamant about his rule, fearing that some people would think the movie was meant to be “two-dimensional.”
“B the way, comic books were banned on the set because Bryan Singer had this thing that people would think…he really wanted to take comic book characters seriously as real 3-Dimensional characters. ‘People who don’t understand these comics might think they’re two dimensional’, so no one was allowed, everyone…it was like contraband. I never read X-Men so people just slipped under my door, I’m having to look, I’m reading these things. I’m looking and these are brilliant because look at the physicality.”
This might annoy some Marvel fans who wish Singer had encouraged his actors to go back to the source material to get to grips with their characters, though his reaction makes sense for the time. Like we said above, the superhero genre wasn’t the cinematic juggernaut it is today, so he was trying to make sure that people took his project seriously and didn’t think it was supposed to be a live-action cartoon in the vein of the then-recent Batman & Robin, for example.
In any case, Jackman definitely got his comic book fix through other means. In the same chat, he went on to say that producer Kevin Feige – nowadays the chief architect of Marvel Studios – would encourage him to read about Wolverine’s history, lending him comics from his office, which sounds like a Marvel nerd’s idea of heaven.
“So I would go into Kevin Feige’s office and it was wall to wall, not only comics over the posters but about 600 figurines of different characters, and I’d be like ‘what should I read?” He’d say “You gotta read this one, and you gotta read the Japan. You gotta read the Origins, and so he was slipping me stuff, and we’ve stayed friends ever since, and nothing makes me happier to know that someone who is purely creative, purely a lover of the legacy of those comic books is this successful,”
Fast forward 18 years and Jackman now knows Logan as well as himself as he’s played him in nine movies across two decades. That said, he won’t be budged out of his retirement, despite Ryan Reynolds’ attempts to get him back on board the X-Men universe again as part of the Deadpool franchise.