If you're a fan of comic-book movies, you probably already know that Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon had a hand in the screen story for one of my fave films, Spider-Man 2 . And if you're a fan of Chabon, you already know that the man is a huge comic fanboy. What you may not know is that Chabon, prior to the publication of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (the book for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature), pitched studios for both Fantastic Four and X-Men -- and was turned down.
The ever-self-effacing Chabon (who even lists on his website a bunch of negative pull-quotes about his work) has a couple of essays on his website about his unsuccessful pitches. In "Maybe Not So Much With the Fantastic", he details his unsuccessful pitch meeting with Chris Columbus' 1492 Productions (at which he laughed along with the execs about fanboys who came in to pitch their take on the film with their Fantastic Four comics in hand -- while his own copy of FF #48 -- "The Coming of Galactus!" -- hid quietly in his own briefcase). He also includes his pitch notes, which give you an idea of the direction he would have taken the film. Whether you liked Fantastic Four or thought it was a galactic pile of crap, it's interesting to read what Chabon might have done with the story, especially the villian element.
About a year later, Chabon was approached by a 20th Century Fox exec who wanted to know if Chabon would be interested in trying his hand at the script for X-Men. Chabon's proposal was summarily rejected, but he includes for your reading pleasure his take on X-Men and the direction he would have taken the script. He would have focused heavily on character development, particularly of Wolverine and Jubilee. A brief excerpt of his take on one of the four main "elements" in X-Men:
"I have chosen an X-men lineup--Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Beast, Iceman, Storm, Wolverine and Jubilee, that provides for the greatest degree of contrast of personality, with each of the characters capable of filling a very distinct, even archetypical role in the story, in an ensemble configuration not all too different from that of Star Trek, which is a useful model, in my opinion, for this type of film. I intend to make sure that each X-man gets a chance to come alive as a real character, mostly by focusing on the small details of personality, the everyday humdrum routine of being a fabulously superpowered mutant."
Chabon goes on to note that he would spend the first film fully developing the X-Men as characters, and would not even introduce the supervillians (Magneto, et al) until the second film. He includes a six-page treatment that I would have loved to have seen on film. Ah, well. I guess he didn't have enough blowing-stuff-up action scenes in there for Hollywood. Maybe he'll get another shot in the future.