Dark Phoenix ended up being a largely disappointing conclusion to X-Men movies, especially since the original installment in 2000 laid a lot of the groundwork for the modern superhero movie boom, but things could’ve been even worse for Marvel’s mutants if some attempts to make an X-Men movie had worked out a few decades ago.
Marvel eventually made a deal in the early ‘80s with Nelvana, a Canadian animation studio that primarily worked in TV but believed that The X-Men could make for a successful movie.
At that point, Nelvana made a distribution deal with Orion Pictures—the studio behind loads of ‘80s genre hits—and a pair of unnamed producers who clearly had no idea how to make an X-Men movie came on board.
Thomas and Conway pitched a story that was fairly faithful to The X-Men of the comics, with newcomer Kitty Pryde arriving at a weird school full of kids with powers and eventually fighting a super-powered villain, but the unnamed producers didn’t like it, and as Polygon explains, each draft after that went further and further away from the source material.
Fox eventually came along and scooped them up, and in 2000 it turned The X-Men into an actual hit movie that had mutants and a school for mutants and all the things you’d expect to see in an X-Men story.