The Real Reason Rogue's Part Was Cut in X-Men Franchise
By: Domonique Salberg
It was always strange how underused Rogue was in the X-Men films. A prominent character since the 80s, and one of the most fascinating mutants, her inclusion in the movies would seem natural and make sense. Yet, she came and went quickly without reason. The franchise made more X-Men movies leaving Rogue out of the majority—and here’s why.
Rogue in X-Men vs. Days of Future Past
The 2000’s X-Men finale showed Rogue being captured by Magneto, who wants to abuse her power to turn all humans into mutants. And by the last time we see her, the character made a full 180 fourteen years later, appearing in Days of Future Past only as a silent cameo. So, as puzzling as her abandoned arc became, there are some objective reasons why if we consider movie and comic politics.
Comic Politics & Writer Chris Claremont
Despite Rogue’s vast story and prominence throughout the 1990s comics, along the way, she stopped being one of the characters at the center of its in-depth stories. This shift may be due to writer Chris Claremont being removed from the X-Men in the mid-90s. He also happened to be the one who knew her best, leaving Rogue to fade into the background. Though, Claremont was additionally recognized for his complex depictions of women characters, administering the X-Men becoming the highest-selling comics on the market during his near twenty-year time writing for the universe.
However, creative differences with writer Jim Lee led to his departure and a relaunch in 1992. These changes resulted in the highest selling comic of all-time X-Men #1 and a drastic dip in quality. The devolving content came from the comic writers—Nicieza, Liefeld, and Lobdell, who unfortunately did not possess the intimate multifaceted knowledge, excellent dialogue, and connection to the story that Claremont had; movie executives did not care. All they wanted was a good movie.
Rogue’s Initial Importance
Therefore, not having great comics to lean on for the characters they would eventually bring to life undermined the once-great story as a whole, and ultimately Rogue, who was integral to it all. So, their inability to not advance Rogue in the comics also bled into the films in a similar fashion. It began with Rogue being the entry point into a massive world of uncanny mutants for both mediums.
In X-Men, the prologue introduces the world of the mutants and the central conflict between Professor X and Magneto. We then meet Maria D’Ancanto, a.k.a. Rogue, played by Oscar-winner Anna Paquin, who next to Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, was one of the biggest names on set. Introducing this new world to moviegoers through Rogue, played by a notable actor, indicated we would see plenty of her going forward. Her powers are displayed immediately; she bumps into Wolverine, where they go on the run, leading the two to meet the X-Men.
Additionally, the mutant’s world is introduced through her, how the X-Men work, and a sympathetic perspective are shared with an unknowing audience. We, like Rogue, are being introduced into this world of powers and seemingly horrific abilities. Moreover, by the end of the movie, her power-absorbing abilities are central to the conflict; without her, the movie would not work. Based on the unfolding events, we had every reason to think she would be a leading character.
Instead, her character had less screen time as the franchise progressed, and defining characteristics never made it into the films. These would include her iconic attire, super strength, flight, and romance with Gambit. Her abilities are even omitted in The Last Stand, when Rogue takes a cure for her mutant powers, taking her further away from her comic roots. Ultimately, in Days of Future Past, her cameo solidified Rogue’s forgotten presence and diminished importance in the franchise’s storyline. Producer Hutch Parker had this to say about her part in Future Past:
“None of us wanted to see that sequence go, but that was the storyline. Because it was so self-contained, it really was its own separate mission, that is actually could be lifted with the least amount of negative impact on anything that came before or after.”
Ms. Marvel & Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine
It could also be argued it was because Fox did not have the rights to the Ms. Marvel character, which allows Rogue in the comics to level up. Rogue absorbs Ms. Marvel’s powers for herself in Avengers Annual #10 when Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel) went up against Mystique. Not being able to use Ms. Marvel may be why Rogue could not become the powered-up version of herself from the comics.
And lastly, there is the whole Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is loved by everyone thing. Hugh’s break-out popularity and charismatic performance overshadowed Rogue, contributing to her never realizing her full potential in the movies. Rogue now faded into the background, Wolverine emerged as the leader and star attraction for the franchise, even though in the comics, he was not. Thus, in essence, Paquin’s Rogue never really became the Rogue we have come to know on the page. Looking back, with the copyright issues and losing her character’s lead writer, Rogue was always in for an unfulfilled time in the X-Men franchise. Hugh’s Wolverine is just what cemented it.