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EW answers the ''X-Men'' mysteries

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Famke Janssen
X: Nel Israelson

Bow to the power of ”X-Men”: It snatched a whopping $54.5 million in its opening weekend, a record for a nonsequel. With all this superhuman might, is it any wonder our puny nonmutant minds left the theater somewhat puzzled about certain points? Lacking the capacity for telepathy, EW telephoned the brains behind the blockbuster for some ”X”-planations.

Why doesn’t the telekinetic Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) have a cool nickname, like Cyclops and Wolverine?
In the comic books, Grey eventually becomes Phoenix in a transformation not included in the film. When the series first began in 1963, however, she was called Marvel Girl, a title that wouldn’t hold up in 2000. ”That name became dated in 1964,” says executive producer Tom DeSanto.

If the telepathic Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) can change people’s thoughts, why didn’t he reverse the antimutant stance of crusading Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison)?
Xavier still believes in lobbying the old-fashioned way — outside of people’s brains. ”He’d rather convince someone like Kelly he’s wrong than give in to the stereotype of the mutant and possess him and make him vote against his own wishes,” says Marvel Comics editor in chief Bob Harras. ”Free will is precious to him,” says DeSanto, ”and he will not abuse his power.”

Even without the underground lair, that’s a pretty swanky school for mutants. Where does Xavier get all the dough?
It’s ”old money,” says Harras, cryptically. Not to mention some shrewd investments. ”Well, he IS psychic,” laughs DeSanto. ”It’s the ultimate inside trading tip.” (Whatever happened to that whole ”not abusing his power” thing?)

Fashion-conscious geeks want to know: Why does Halle Berry sport white bangs as weather-warping Storm, when the comic character has a longer, windswept mane?
Even DeSanto concedes that he’s ”not a fan of the bangs.” Director Bryan Singer says he experimented with duplicating the comic ‘do, but ”if you get a bigger wig flying large, what you get is Jersey hair. Which I’m familiar with, having grown up in Jersey.”

Given the superhero-size opening-weekend grosses, how quickly did its creators cry sequel?
”I’ll put it this way,” says Twentieth Century Fox Film Group president Tom Rothman. ”There was a moment [opening] weekend when I said, ‘Jeez, I guess it’s a good thing that we made those sequel deals [with the cast].”’ DeSanto and Singer aren’t locked in; noting he finished the movie only two weeks before its opening, Singer says, ”[A sequel] is not something I’ve concentrated on.” But DeSanto says he and Singer are both eager to return and envision the franchise as a trilogy. ”It’s gonna go on as fast a track as possible,” says DeSanto, ”but the key is to do it right, even if it means taking extra time with it.” A Hollywood player taking time to cash in? What is he, a mutant?!

(Additional reporting by Jeff Jensen)

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