At one point, 20th Century Fox’s plans for the X-Men franchise included a number of spinoff films. But if longtime composer and editor John Ottman got his way, the studio would have produced a headlining vehicle for none other than Dr. Henry McCoy, a.k.a. Beast. During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ottman revealed that he once put considerable effort into getting this movie off the ground.
Ottman actually didn’t come up with the idea for a Beast standalone film himself. Instead, it came from Byron Burton, who worked as Ottman’s assistant on X-Men: Apocalypse. While they were working on that movie, Burton shared his desire to write the spinoff and promised to crank out a script in two weeks. Ottman was skeptical at first, but after reading Burton’s draft, he thought it had potential.
Burton’s script, which also featured input from Ottman himself, was titled X-Men: Fear the Beast. It was set in the late ‘80s and centered around Beast’s search for a creature that was terrorizing an Inuit village. According to Ottman, they “wanted to have the tenor of John Carpenter’s The Thing where you are in this inhospitable environment.” The film would have presumably functioned as a direct sequel to Apocalypse, since it featured Hank using the serum that allowed him to keep his mutation in check. Moreover, Hank would be seen struggling with his more violent tendencies and attempting to help a scientist plagued by a similar mutation.
Even though Beast was the main character, the script also had roles for Professor Xavier and Wolverine as well. There was also a Danger Room sequence that included the anti-mutant Friends of Humanity. By the time the credits rolled, the audience would have learned that Mr. Sinister was responsible for the film’s conflict. This would have set up a more significant arc for the villain in future installments.
“The idea was we would have Sinister as this multi-film villain orchestrating things,” added Burton. “We wrote a late-’80s outline of an Omega Red film where the idea is Sinister is testing the X-Men.”
Ottman eventually brought the screenplay to Simon Kinberg and even expressed a willingness to direct the movie himself. However, Kinberg “politely declined” the chance to read it. Apparently, the Dark Phoenix writer and director was toying with the idea of bringing Wolverine back to the series (sans Hugh Jackman) and didn’t want to be concerned with working around yet another appearance by the character. With this, Ottman and Burton’s hopes were dashed, and now Marvel Studios is at the wheel of the franchise.
The full 101-page script can be read in full here.
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