With X-Men: Days of Future Past, director Bryan Singer returned to the franchise he’d left after 2003’s X2: X-Men United (still an awful title). The X-sequel adapted one of the best-loved X-Men stories of all time, sort of streamlined the complicated mess the movie mythology had become, and retconned the shit out of Brett Ratner’s unfortunate X-Men: The Last Stand, something X-fans had already been doing in their heads for years. Days of Future Past also let Singer add the X-Men’s giant robotic nemeses into the mix: the mutant-hunting Sentinels. The comics’ iconic ‘bots got to strut their stuff — in all their purple glory — during the storyline set in the 1970s, whereas the bleak dystopian future had the mutants being wiped out by shapeshifting, power-absorbing future Sentinels. But we actually could have seen the Sentinels facing off against Xavier’s X-Men years ago, if only they weren’t so damned expensive.
Early drafts of the X2 screenplay would have brought the Sentinels into the mix along with Nightcrawler, the anti-mutant bigot William Stryker, the simmering foreshadowing of the Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix plot, and another installment of Wolverine’s “Where Do I Come From?” dream journal. I’m guessing they would have been under the command of Stryker had they survived to the final film, but they were deemed too expensive to make work at the time — apparently it would have cost an extra $8 million to bring them to the big screen. So all we got in X2 was a brief decapitated cameo in the Danger Room. But thanks to production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas and concept artist Ricardo Delgado, we can see some of the early proposed designs for the big ugly bastards.
These designs stick pretty closely to the original source material, especially the sort of vacant-eyed look of the face, but, like the big-screen Transformers, they show off more of the interior mechanics of the ‘bots, which would be annoying as hell to have to draw in every panel of a comic book.
Apparently one of the ideas being tossed about was that the Sentinels would be able to collapse and expand from a wheel-like configuration. Which would come in handy if Optimus Prime ever ran over a nail or something.
Delgado shared the below sketch, and earns bonus points for the self-deprecating caption: “The Sentinels were considered briefly for the X-Men sequel, and I drew up a version to a great, collective yawn from everyone involved.” Aww, come on now, don’t be like that.
It was great to finally see the Sentinels in Days of Future Past, but I am curious about just how good they might have looked in X2 if they’d been given the greenlight. Here’s what Singer’s past and future versions looked like earlier this year.