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20 Things You Might Not Know About The X-Men

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20th Century Fox

Professor X and his team of mutant superheroes return to theaters this weekend in X-Men: Days Of Future Past, a time-twisting adventure that bridges the gap between the earlier series of X-Men films and the world of X-Men: First Class. The film is based on a 1981 story arc that unfolded in the pages of The Uncanny X-Men, in which one of the few surviving members of the team in a dystopian future travels back in time to prevent an incident that dooms both mutantkind and civilization as we know it.

If the arrival of Days Of Future Past has you thinking more than usual about Marvel's famous mutants, you'll have no shortage of food for thought with this list of 20 things you might not know about the X-Men, the upcoming film, and the story that inspired it.

1. When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby first created the X-Men, the “X” in “X-Men” stood for the mysterious “X-Gene” that gave them their abilities (which normal humans lacked). However, the letter eventually came to stand for the “extra” powers they possessed.

2. In the Marvel universe, the term “mutant” refers to characters that were born with special abilities or developed them later in life without any external influence. “Mutates” is the term for characters whose genetic makeup was altered at some point by outside forces such as radiation or chemicals. For example, Spider-Man is a popular mutate (because he gained his powers due to a bite from a radioactive spider), while the original members of the X-Men are all mutants (because they developed their abilities without external stimuli).

3. The original name for the team suggested by Stan Lee was “The Mutants,” but publisher Martin Goodman didn't think readers would know what a “mutant” was, so it was changed.

4. Magneto was introduced as the arch enemy of the X-Men in the very first issue of The X-Men in 1963.

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5. Bald actor Yul Brynner inspired the look of Professor X, according to Stan Lee.

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6. Jean Grey was the first mutant Charles Xavier took as a student. She was 12 years old when she began learning to control her abilities under his tutelage. Several years went by before Xavier recruited his next student, Scott Summers (Cyclops), who was followed by Bobby Drake (Iceman), Warren Worthington III (Angel), and finally Henry McCoy (Beast). These five mutants became the original X-Men.

7. The first non-mutant superhero the X-Men encountered during their early adventures was Iron Man, who battled with Angel when the winged mutant turned evil for a short period.

Tales of Suspense #49

8. Stan Lee initially intended to make Magneto and Professor X brothers, with their relationship revealed later in the series. Lee never got around to writing that story point, though, and it never came to pass in the series.

9. The first new addition to the roster of X-Men was a non-mutant named Calvin Rankin (codenamed “Mimic”), who could copy the powers and abilities of any mutants in his vicinity due to an accident with powerful chemicals. He was initially introduced as a foe of the X-Men, then later joined the team—only to lose his powers and leave the team a few issues later.

10. Spider-Man was once offered membership in the X-Men in a 1966 issue of The X-Men, but the web-slinging hero turned down the offer, preferring to remain a solo act.

Wikimedia Commons

11. Early in the X-Men series, Stan Lee conceived of a brief moment when Professor X confesses (in his own mind) to having a crush on his first student, Jean Grey. This moment in The X-Men #3 has been revisited once or twice by various writers, but is often ignored due to the controversial implications of such a student/teacher relationship.

  • 12. The first new mutants to be added to the team were Havok (the brother of Cyclops) and Polaris (eventually revealed to be the daughter of Magneto) in 1969.
  • They were added with the hope that it would spur increased sales for the lagging series. The changes failed to generate much new interest in the team, though.

Marvel Wikia

13. The cover of The Uncanny X-Men #141, the comic that kicked off the “Days Of Future Past” story arc, is one of the most frequent subjects of homage in the comics industry. Some of the series that have referenced the issue's iconic image of Wolverine and Kitty Pryde backed up against a poster depicting the “Slain” or “Apprehended” status of various X-Men have included Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man, Superboy, Darkwing Duck, Star Trek: The Next Generation, G.I. Joe, Captain America, and The Avengers.

14. In the original “Days of Future Past” storyline that the film is based on, the dystopian future filled with killer, mutant-hunting robots is the year 2013. 

15. The Guinness World Record for the best-selling comic book of all time is held by 1991's X-Men #1, which was published with five different covers and sold over 8 million copies. Guinness presented the award to Chris Claremont and Jim Lee (the issue's writer and artist, respectively) at San Diego's Comic-Con International in 2010.

16. Days Of Future Past director Bryan Singer had a two-hour conversation with The Terminator director James Cameron about time travel, string theory, and multiverses in order to get a better grasp on the continuity of the upcoming X-Men film.

Getty Images

17. X-Men: Days Of Future Past marks the seventh time Hugh Jackman has portrayed Wolverine in a movie. This is the most times one actor has played the same superhero in movies that received a wide release. His closest competition is Samuel Jackson, who has played Nick Fury in six movies up to this point, as well as Patrick Stewart, who has played Professor X in six films.

18. In a 2003 issue of The Uncanny X-Men, a character mentions that mutants with the X-Gene are immune to the disease HIV/AIDS. No further explanation for their immunity has ever been given.

19. The mutant Quicksilver, who makes his big-screen debut in Days of Future Past, will also appear in the upcoming sequel to The Avengers, with Evan Peters playing the character in X-Men: Days Of Future Past and Aaron Taylor-Johnson playing him in Avengers: Age Of Ultron. After fighting over the legal rights to the character (who has been a prominent character in both superhero teams' universes), Fox and Marvel Studios agreed to have a different version of the character in each film. The version of Quicksilver in Days Of Future Past will not be able to mention his affiliation with The Avengers, while the Quicksilver in Age Of Ultron will not be described as a “mutant” according to the studios' agreed-upon restrictions.

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20. The initial, working title for X-Men: Days Of Future Past was “Hello Kitty,” a reference to the Kitty Pryde character played by Ellen Page in the film.

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The Dark Knight Is Returning to Theaters, Just Ahead of 10th Anniversary
DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Believe it or not, July 18 will mark the 10th anniversary of the release of The Dark Knight, the second entry in Christopher Nolan’s game-changing superhero movie trilogy. To mark the occasion, Showcase Cinemas—the movie theater chain behind the Cinema de Lux experience—is bringing the movie back to select theaters on the east coast for limited screenings on February 8 and February 11, /Film reports.

Many people consider The Dark Knight the best film in the Batman franchise (Tim Burton and LEGO-fied movies included). The film currently holds a 94 percent “fresh” rating with both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the highest-rated movie in the Batman universe.

Much of the film’s acclaim came from Heath Ledger’s brilliant turn as The Joker—a role that won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar (making him the only actor to win that award posthumously). Even Michael Caine, who plays Bruce Wayne’s ever-dutiful butler and BFF Alfred, admitted that he wasn’t sold on the idea of bringing The Joker back into Batman’s cinematic universe, after the character was so ably played by Jack Nicholson in Burton’s 1989 film, until he found out Ledger would be taking the role.

“You don’t try and top Jack,” was Caine’s original thought. But when Nolan informed the actor that he was casting Ledger, that changed things. “I thought: ‘Now that’s the one guy that could do it!’ My confidence came back,” Caine told Empire Magazine.

To find out if The Dark Knight is playing at a theater near you, visit Showcase Cinemas’s website. If it’s not, don’t despair: With the official anniversary still six months away, other theaters are bound to have the same idea.

[h/t: /Film]

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10 Amazing Facts About Stan Lee
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

Comic book legend Stan Lee’s life has always been an open book. The co-creator of some of the greatest superheroes and most beloved stories of all time has become just as mythical and larger-than-life as the characters in the panels. In 2015, around the time of Marvel’s 75th anniversary, Lee had the idea to reflect on his own life, as he said, “in the one form it has never been depicted, as a comic book … or if you prefer, a graphic memoir.”

The result, published by the Touchstone imprint of Simon & Schuster in 2015, was Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir—which was written by Lee with Peter David and features artwork by cartoonist and illustrator Colleen Doran. Here are 10 things we learned about Lee, on his 95th birthday.

1. HIS WIFE IS ALSO HIS BARBER.

As a bit of a throwaway fact, Stanley Martin Lieber (Stan Lee) reveals the secret of his slicked back mane on the second page of his memoir. “My whole adult life, I’ve never been to a barber,” he writes. “Joanie always cuts my hair.”

2. HIS CONFIDENCE COMES FROM HIS MOTHER.

Amazing Fantastic IncredibleCourtesy POW! Entertainment[2].jpg

Stan Lee writes that as a child he loved to read books by Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and others, and his mother often watched him read. “I probably got my self-confidence from the fact that my mother thought everything I did was brilliant.”

3. YOUNG STAN LEE WROTE OBITUARIES.

Before writing about the fantastic lives of fictional characters, Stan Lee wrote antemortem obituaries for celebrities at an undisclosed news office in New York. He says that he eventually quit that job because it was too “depressing.”

4. CAPTAIN AMERICA WAS HIS FIRST BIG BREAK.

A week into his job at Timely Comics, Lee got the opportunity to write a two-page Captain America comic. He wrote it under the pen name Stan Lee (now his legal name) and titled it "Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge." His first full comic script would come in Captain America Issue 5, published August 1, 1941.

5. HE WROTE TRAINING FILMS FOR THE ARMY WITH DR. SEUSS.

After being transferred from the army’s Signal Corps in New Jersey, Lee worked as a playwright in the Training Film Division in Queens with eight other men, including a few who went on to be very famous: Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Saroyan, cartoonist Charles Addams (creator of The Addams Family), director Frank Capra (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington [1939] and It’s a Wonderful Life [1946]) and Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

6. HE DEFIED THE COMICS CODE AUTHORITY WITH AN ANTI-DRUG COMIC.

In 1971, Lee received a letter from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare asking him to put an anti-drug message in one of his books. He came up with a Spider-Man story that involved his best friend Harry abusing pills because of a break-up. The CCA would not approve the story with their seal because of the mention of drugs, but Lee convinced his publisher, Martin Goodman, to run the comic anyway.

7. AN ISSUE AT THE PRINTERS TURNED THE HULK GREEN.

The character was supposed to be gray, but Lee writes that the printer had a hard time keeping the color consistent. “So as of issue #2,” Lee writes, “with no explanation, he turned green.”

8. HIS WIFE DESTROYED HIS PRIZED TYPEWRITER.


Rich Polk/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly

According to Lee, during an argument, Joanie destroyed the typewriter he used to write the first issues for characters including Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four. “This happened before eBay," he writes. "Too bad. I could’ve auctioned the parts and made a mint.”

9. A FIRE DESTROYED HIS INTERVIEWS AND LECTURES.

When Lee moved his family to Los Angeles, he set up a studio in Van Nuys where he stored videotapes of his talks and interviews, along with a commissioned bust of his wife. The building was lost to a blaze that the fire department believed was arson, but no one was ever charged with the crime.

10. HIS FAVORITE MARVEL FILM CAMEO WAS BASED ON ONE FROM THE COMICS.

Beginning with the first Spider-Man film in 2002, Stan Lee has made quick cameos in Marvel films as a service to the fans. He says that his appearance in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) was inspired by the story of Reed and Sue Richards’ wedding in Fantastic Four Annual Volume 1 #3, in which he and artist/writer Jack Kirby attempt to crash the ceremony but are thwarted.

All images courtesy of Touchstone unless otherwise noted.

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