When X-Men arrived in theaters 20 years ago, it was quite the gamble.
Three years prior, the arch camp of Joel Schumacher‘s Batman & Robin had sent the Caped Crusader back into his bat cave, cowl hung in shame. Because of the lingering stench of that particular stink bomb, the idea of launching another film adaptation of a comic book property, no matter how beloved, wasn’t exactly popular in the risk-averse Hollywood.
And yet, 20th Century Fox went ahead with a plan to bring the popular team of mutants known as the X-Men to life, tapping rising star (and still scandal-free) Bryan Singer to lead the way. With a cast of legends (Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen) and newcomers (Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen) stepping into the costumes of the iconic character, the film debuted on July 14, 2000 to a level of box office success that surprised everyone involved. From there, two decades of superhero cinema were born, making possible for Marvel Studios to become the behemoth it is today.