Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox saw them retain a number of their key assets. The one which gained the most attention was the return of the X-Men and the potential of them being incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
However, there are issues with exactly how and when this will happen.
With the release of X-Men: Dark Phoenix we’re now at the end of the third trilogy of Fox X-Men Films; the original trilogy, the prequel/retconned trilogy and the Wolverine trilogy and if initial reviews are anything to go by it looks like they couldn’t wait to close this trilogy up regardless of the quality of the finale. There’s still a spin-off to arrive in the form of The New Mutants – which has sort of become the black sheep of the X-Men family with it’s numerous delays and reshoots.
With the trilogies all wrapped up, the characters are now all Marvel’s to play with but with a cinematic universe that’s 22 films in already, it’s going to be quite difficult to introduce them in a way that feels organic.
With Avengers: Endgame we have concluded the first big overarching storyline established right from Iron Man (2008) which gives Marvel a little breathing room, however it didn’t introduce the big universe retcon that some expected in the style that X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) retconned the original X-Men trilogy, essentially discarding the final film of that trilogy from the timeline.
A universal restart would have been the simplest way to introduce these characters but Kevin Feige, producer of the MCU, has already said that it will be a ‘very long while’ before these characters are introduced, with some rumours stated that they won’t be before 2025 at the earliest.
Disney have stated a timeline of films right up to Avatar 5, which is currently scheduled for 2027, and a lot of these films are as-of-yet untitled Marvel films. Although leaks suggest these to be sequels to existing films such as Black Panther 2, Doctor Strange 2, a new Thor and sequels to Captain Marvel and Ant-Man. New series starters are currently rumoured to be The Eternals, Shang-Chi and new styles of Avengers films in Young Avengers, Dark Avengers and New Avengers. None of which are X-Men related, but then again, none of these are currently confirmed.
So what would be the best way to introduce these characters? Just releasing an MCU X-Men film out of nowhere at this point would feel odd. It would be quite hard to believe these mutants have been unnoticed, up until now, with all the superhero action that has occurred up to yet. Where were they when Thanos was busy decimating the galaxy?
One option has been alluded to in the latest trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home by Jake Gyllenhaal’s character Quentin Beck, a.k.a Mysterio, with the brief mention of a multi-verse being created by the events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame. Although with the character usually portrayed as an adversary to Spider-Man as opposed to an ally, as the trailers are currently showing him as, we’re not exactly sure how true this is until we see how the events of the film play out next month.
A multi-verse would make sense for a way to introduce these characters away from the established universe of the MCU. Perhaps a greater threat in their universe has the X-Men attempting inter-dimensional travel to get help from other timeline’s superheroes?
Another option would be to change the way the X-Men come about. We know Marvel isn’t afraid to alter elements of the comic book storylines so perhaps they could play about with the idea of the way these ‘mutants’ are created. This could be alluded to in the post-credits scenes that the franchise has become so closely linked with. This could introduce the mutant team slowly in a way that feels connected to the established universe.
Then there’s also the case of the upcoming Disney+ television shows. While these are currently announced to be on characters already introduced such as Loki, The Winter Soldier, Falcon, Vision and Scarlet Witch there’s always a chance that Disney could decide to release one focusing on new characters or use the announced shows as a way to begin hinting towards the mutants.
There’s also the huge issue of who would play the mutants. If rumours are to be believed, every role would be recast except Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool, who isn’t technically part of the team anyway. This leaves Marvel with another headache. They’re not known for just putting out what audiences expect so there’s a good chance the mutants from Fox’s films wouldn’t be directly transferred over. They’d likely go for some not seen before on film, with the exception of characters such as Wolverine, who people are already calling for a Tom Hardy casting, which is expected as he’s considered to get attached to seemingly every franchise reboot.
It will be a while before we see the X-Men characters sharing the screen with the likes of Captain Marvel, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange and it will be interesting to see which ones exactly we’re likely to see doing so.
All we know is, Marvel has a large job on their hands to get all these characters together, but if the previous films are anything to go by this is going to be done in a satisfying way and we’re eager to see, just exactly, how the screenwriters and directors go about doing so in the next five years and beyond.