These days, comic book adaptations tend to run for at least two hours and change, if not a lot longer. The genre has become so ubiquitous and defined by expansive world-building and extended third-act action sequences that go big on CGI-driven spectacle that it’s a minor miracle if a new superhero movie clocks in at less than two hours, unless of course there’s a studio mandate in place like there was for Joss Whedon’s Justice League.
Somewhat ironically, Bryan Singer’s X-Men is one of the shorter big-budget blockbusters revolving around a team of costumed crimefighters. Even though the success of the genre as we know it today can be traced right back to the summer of 2000, when the risky project turned out to be a massive hit after raking in $296 million at the box office and reviving a form of filmmaking many thought had been killed forever by Batman & Robin three years previously.
However, Hugh Jackman revealed in a new interview that the original cut of X-Men was padded out by over 40 minutes of unseen footage, which was removed very late in the day for pacing reasons to tighten up the narrative and ensure that audiences didn’t get bored of the mutants by the end of their first live-action outing.
“I’m probably speaking out of school. But a week before it came out, I think it was 47 minutes longer. I may be exaggerating or under exaggerating. It was a lot. And maybe the week is an exaggeration, but I certainly… What we shot on, I remember going, ‘What happened to that scene and that character? What? Wait, whoa’. That movie from memory is about 100 minutes, I think. It was a lot longer, a lot longer, so that was definitely a big surprise to me.”
X-Men wrapped on March 3rd, 2000, and released worldwide just over four months later, so the editing team of Steven Rosenblum, John Wright and Kevin Stitt must have been working round the clock to trim down and excise 47 minutes on such a tight deadline, especially when Jackman claims it happened just a week or so before the premiere.