Because of the way movie distribution and longevity in the theaters had changed since the 20th century, the MAD movie parody became a lot harder to do. I wrote extensively about it here, but the short version is that even big money-making movies seldom spend more than four or five weeks in theaters these days, and by the time the movie parody comes out (usually a three month lag) the film it spoofed is old news. For a few years in the early-mid 2000’s, MAD tried to do movie parodies in advance of the film’s release. We worked from trailers, bootleg movie scripts, books/comics the films were based on, etc. This led to a number of “mistakes”, where we included scenes that ended up not in the film, or got visuals wrong. The worst of all of these was the parody of 2003’s “X2: X-men United” in MAD #430, where we GOT THE ENDING WRONG.
Here’s how it happened. We worked from a legitimate final working script of the movie… something that is usually pretty accurate barring any major editing in production. In the script’s ending of this film, Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) does NOT die. She goes blind when she’s hit by a mind-controlled Cyclop’s optic blast in a battle in Styker’s base, is blind for the rest of the film, and is alive but blind at the end. That’s how we did the ending, here are the last four panels:
This parody was written by Desmond Devlin, by the way, and none of this was his fault. So what happened? I’ve heard two versions. In one, director Bryan Singer had always planned on having Jean Grey die and then be resurrected in the third film, but kept it ultra secret and didn’t even tell Janssen until halfway through the filming, so the working script was always wrong. Another version is that they filmed the blind ending, tested it with audiences who didn’t like the ending, and then re-edited the film and brought the actors back for some reshoots and new scenes to do a Jean Grey dies ending.
Personally I think it’s a combination of both versions. I do think they shot the original “Jean Grey goes blind” ending, but I think Singer kept it super secret that he wanted her to die so he brought some of the cast back for the final weepy scene in Professor X’s office and a couple of other shots, and had edited it for those in the first place, all to keep it secret for as long as possible.
Why do I think that? If you watch the film KNOWING Jean Grey goes blind in that battle scene, then you see Janssen is ACTING LIKE SHE’S BLIND from that point forward, except in a couple of key reshot scenes. It’s obvious. Singer always intended to use those scenes because Jean Grey was hurt in the battle and her being helped along by others could be attributed to injury, even though if you look at it again you can see she’s acting like she’s blind! Also, look at Wolverine’s hair in the weepy scene in the office and some in the jet after Jean dies. His hair is obviously a giant Wolverine wig covering the hair he had grown out for shooting “Van Helsing”, which he was doing at the time. Looks very different from the other scenes.
Anyway, an interesting factoid. MAD eventually gave up on the “doing it before the film comes out” method. Can’t remember the last time I had to do that. Probably one of the Harry Potter movies.
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