Before we get into the first part of this editorial, let me make something very clear — I am a fan of Fox’s X-Men films (well, most of them anyway). And I am not of the belief that Marvel Studios is perfect and everything they do is absolute gold. That’s not to say I hate their movies. I enjoy them a lot. But the so-overused-that-it-makes-me-want-to-bash-my-head-on-a-granite-bench saying of "give the rights back to Marvel!" is irritating and useless. Despite all of that, I’m going to contradict myself and make a completely hypothetical article from a fan’s — as well as a filmmaker’s — perspective.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that, eventually, the X-Men and all related properties will be with Marvel Studios. Whether that’s in ten years, or twenty, or more, we don’t know. But say Marvel retains the rights and now have the opportunity to integrate mutants into their cinematic universe. How would I, staypuffed, like to see them in this continuity? Well, as most of the MCU has done so far, I would use the source material but put a bit of a spin on it. Let’s break down the first two movies.
All-New X-Men (2019)
The title I have selected for the first film, All-New X-Men, acts not only as a reference to Brian Michael Bendis' current series of the same name (which stars the original teenage team in modern day), but also establishes that these are not the same characters as before but a reinterpretation of the team.
In the comics, mutants are born with the potential to harness super-powers, thanks to the X-gene of which the X-Men are named after. So far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we have seen no superheroes born with powers — Thor is from Asgard, not Earth, so he is not technically human, and Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch appear to have been given superhuman abilities thanks to Loki’s sceptre. So to have mutants pop up would be difficult to explain at this point. There has been talk of recasting actors (such as Robert Downey Jr.) due to age or contractual restrictions, so let’s theoretically say that after Avengers 3, there’s been a soft reboot of the MCU with some new actors or something like that, and mutants have been living in secret until now.
One of the things I would love to see on-screen is the original X-Men (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast and Angel) as exactly that. X-Men: First Class presented the early days of Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr, but had a mishmash of team members, with Beast being the only member of the comic book First Class in sight. It would be fantastic for Marvel’s first X-Men movie to focus on the teenage (or young adult) team, dealing with their newfound powers and the world’s distaste for mutantkind.
In ideal world, we would have Cyclops, aka Scott Summers, leading this group of mutants. As for the bad guys: I don't think that Magento should be the villain. In fact, I think he should only be mentioned by Xavier at some point. He's a hugely iconic villain that's already been played by two fantastic actors, and, like Warner Bros. with the Joker, are probably hesitant to revisit. Instead, Marvel could use the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (with the line-up of Mystique, Blob, Pyro, Rogue, Emma Frost and Sabertooth) under the command of Magneto.
If Avengers 3 arrives in around 2018, Marvel’s X-Men would take place in our present day (as in, 2014, or thereabouts), with our heroes being around 16-18 years old (this matters more for the sequels). Having a modern First Class is very different to the team’s early appearances in the ‘60s, so this would be the “bit of spin” I was talking about. With the Avengers out in the open, the world would react differently to super-powered beings, and while oppression is still a big theme in the X-staple, it wouldn’t be as heavy in this universe.
X-Men: Legacy (2021)
I considered calling the sequel Uncanny X-Men, but I don't know how that would fly with the studio and with the general public. It may sound great in our minds, but would filmmakers want to commit to/audiences be interested by the UNCANNY X-Men? I don't think so.
After focusing on the teenage team for the first film, the way I see Marvel progressing is to use the fan-favourite team of Colossus, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde and Storm. All of these characters have appeared, in varying capacities, in Fox's movies before, but since Logan has had most of the screen time there’s room to reinterpret the characters, making them more like their comic book counterparts.
Both Jean and Scott would reappear, with the other three originals either making cameos or off elsewhere. Those two would act as our sense of familiarity, with a bunch of “new recruits” entering the school causing them to take leadership and have a sense of responsibility. Already, this is a more interesting character arc than what they (Cyclops mostly) have been given in Fox’s X-films. They have to try and organise these super-powered people, most of whom are much older and more experienced (Kitty is roughly the same age as Jean) but don’t necessarily operate in a team environment.
In terms of relationships — Scott and Logan would, of course, butt heads (what leaders in the Marvel Universe don’t?), Kitty would be drawn to Colossus, Nightcrawler and Storm would share a connection and Jean could bond with Kitty, seeing as though they are young women going through very similar things. Where the first film is about exploring powers, this second film would be about teamwork and responsibility.
Since most viewers would be familiar with Magneto, the movie would not act as an introduction to the character, but would simply imply that Scott and Jean have already fought their greatest foe. He would be a little younger than Ian McKellan’s portrayal, and a lot more edgy — years of anger building towards humans cause him to attempt a major attack. His actions in the film would push mankind to become less trustworthy towards mutants, and Magneto’s reckless (fair in his eyes) behaviour echo the theme of responsibility (and the title of Legacy) I mentioned. Rogue,
I imagine Marvel’s X-Men 2 ending with Captain America and Iron Man paying a visit to Professor X, Scott and Jean, concerned with what Magneto has done and the public’s view of super-powered beings, both mutants and Avengers. Cyclops doesn’t exactly enjoy being talked down to, as he is keen to prove himself as a confident leader of the X-Men. You can feel the tension brewing between Scott and Steve, whom he sees as a boy scout. They leave with a warning, Professor X reassuring them that Jean and Scott will work harder to stop Magneto whenever he strikes again, but Cyclops isn't too keen on being commanded. Some of you might be able to guess where this is going…
But that's for another day.
TL;DR: Avengers 3 provides a soft reboot to the MCU that now includes mutants. Marvel’s first X-Men movie features original five (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast and Angel) as teens/young adults, exploring their powers and going up against the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Second film would introduce line-up of Scott, Jean, Storm, Kitty Pryde, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Wolverine facing an edgy and dangerous Magneto, with a focus on character interaction and responsibility.
And that concludes the first part of the editorial! The second half should (hopefully) hit within the next week. If you have any suggestions as to how the X-Men could work in the MCU then please, leave your thoughts below. Of course, hitting that big red glove never hurts, especially if you enjoyed reading this (or just enjoy reading in general).
Ranking the X-MEN Movies From Worst to Best
Pitching X-MEN Movies In the MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE (Part Two) COMING SOON