Scripting Errors: Michael Chabon’s X-Men

Welcome back to Scripting Errors, where we look at movies that might have been! Today’s entry would more accurately be called a MisTreatment, since I selected a 19 page X-Men treatment (the first step in the script writing process) rather than a full script.

This post is illustrated with fan art by Scott Ngo, check out his DeviantArt page here.

Who Wrote It and When?

This particular take on the X-Men was written in 1996 by acclaimed novelist (and occasional comic writer) Michael Chabon during an unsuccessful foray into screenwriting.

Synopsis

In the wilds of Canada, a naked man with metal claws flees from heavily armed soldiers. His only identifying mark is a barcode implant on his neck, labelling him “Logan”. He escapes (after being shot with what seems like a tranquilizer dart) and is rescued by the X-Men, who are slow to trust their mysterious houseguest.

In California, a young mutant named Jubilation Lee discovers that the people she believes to be her parents aren’t. She runs away from home and quickly finds that every trace of her existence is gone – no birth records, no state ID, not even a record that the Lees every resided in what she knows as her childhood home.

The mysteries surrounding Logan and Jubilation will bring them and The X-Men into deadly conflict with powerful anti-Mutant forces before all is said and done.

Points of Interest

  • The X-Men’s line-up in this story, though never laid out for the reader, consists of Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Storm, Beast, and Nightcrawler, with Wolverine and Jubilee joining up by the end of the movie. A fairly solid line-up, all things considered.
  • The story explicitly calls for Beast & Nightcrawler to have their blue, furry looks and Iceman to have an ice form – perhaps a tad ambitious for the era of Spawn or Mystery Men.
  • The villains are an original creation, the League of Gentlemen (likely named for the 1960 flick), who serve as a tidy combination of the Hellfire Club, Weapon X Program, and Mr. Sinister’s shenanigans.
  • The Mutant Liberation Front is name-checked as a rival to the X-Men, in keeping with the era, and the Legacy Virus factors heavily into the plot (albeit with a resolution by the end of the story).

Takeaways

I’d love to see Chabon get the chances to develop this as a mini-series, graphic novel, or novel. It’s nifty superhuman conspiracy tale that uses the established X-Men mythos while doing something fairly unique, but is entirely too ambitious for its era and medium. Read it here.

Come Back Next Week for a New Installment of Strange Times & Places!

About Chris Walker

Chris Walker (@back2past) is affectionately referred to as Back to the Past's social media lackey. He's all over finding nuggets of pop culture news, wherever they may be hiding!

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