Last month at Comic-Con, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige got the internet all a-flutter by announcing the upcoming MCU line-up for the next two years. He also stated that he didn’t have time to talk about other things, including… “Mutants.” Of course, there are no mutant-related movies listed on the MCU release schedule between now and the end of 2021, including a third Deadpool movie (or X-Force, for that matter), which doesn’t mean they might not happen, but it doesn’t seem like a priority right now.
Let’s get back to just the idea of “mutants” being brought into the MCU, hoping that it won’t lead to Elisabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch stating “No More Mutants” down the road, since let’s face it. Mutants can be pesky at times (like when Marvel Comics has 8 X-titles being released in a single month, which is probably a slow month for the X-brand).
Bringing “mutants” into the MCU should be handled as fluidly and creatively as how Kree and Skrull have been introduced either via the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show or Captain Marvel.
Let’s get to some of my ideas, some bigger and more out-there and some which should be fairly obvious…
1. Go back to basics and keep things simple
We have to remember what part of what worked so well about the original Stan Lee and Jack Kirby X-Men comics was that they were a younger superhero group than the Fantastic Four, Avengers and the Justice League over at the distinguished competition. They were more in line with the younger teenagers that made up DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes, even if the book initially got its inspiration from DC’s Doom Patrol.
Granted, X-Men: First Class did try to go younger with the X-Men by going back to the concept of it being a school for those with mutant powers, and then X-Men: Apocalypse also tried to do that by bringing in younger incarnations of Cyclops, Jean Grey and other characters from Bryan Singer’s 2000 X-Men. The problem is that it once again created comparisons with previous movie incarnations.
One figures you’d have to have some of those characters if you want to make an X-Men movie, but you can also put them into the more traditional school uniform costumes and maintain a setting which has worked so well in the comics. The X-Men are not just another superteam made up of mutants – they’re a haven for mutants and a place where they can learn to control and use their powers for good.
Because of this, you shouldn’t need to have Rogue or Mystique or even Wolverine, X-Men who were introduced way later in the series.
The latest Spider-Man has shown what can be done when you have characters who are essentially high school teenagers, and in many ways, having younger characters might be able to bring in some of the teens who probably felt Fox’s X-Men were old hat by the time they were rebooted.
2. Keep the X-Men in present-day MCU
Having the X-Men actually be school kids wouldn’t be that strange, and you can even use something like the “Loser’s Club” in the Stephen King adaptation It as a basis for having younger kids star in the movie, which also might allow Marvel to bring in younger actors that might not be as well known. (It worked with Tom Holland!) Sure, it’s nice to have big name stars, but Marvel Studios has made enough money that they can start looking for some new talent, and not just as Disney-friendly sidekicks for Iron Man and Captain Marvel.
This was partially the motivation for the relaunch of Fox’s X-men series with X-Men: First Class, but director Matthew Vaughn and the producers decided to put that series back in the ‘60s. That set things up for sequels in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, which sounded like a fun idea for some nostalgia fodder but ultimately didn’t work and distracted from the story, because we spent most of the movie trying to figure out how James McAvoy didn’t age in 40 years.
Marvel Studios did the same thing with Captain Marvel by setting the movie in the ‘90s, but it also ended up adding the factor of trying to figure out how that timeline worked with what we had seen before.
Fine, so make the X-Men younger kids and just go with the classics: Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman (who has been noticeably absent from the most recent iteration) and Beast… but more importantly, put them in the modern-day MCU.
3. Cut all ties to the previous incarnation
I know everyone loves Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, as do I, but it’s time to move on, and the best way to do that is to go with the younger, female X-23 incarnation of Wolverine. (Note: I stole this idea from Samantha Puc… thanks Sam!) Sure, Laura Kinney did appear in a younger version in James Mangold’s 2017 movie Logan, but the version in the comics is an older teen or 20-something who has been through some tough times, and she’d probably fit in well with some of the more troubled MCU characters.
Granted, they could also go for a younger male version of Wolverine altogether and some names have already been bandied about… and there might even be a “Beat Picks” coming up sometime later this week for some of our ideas, so I won’t spoil that.
The point is that like Spider-Man: Homecoming, Marvel Studios needs to start almost from scratch and not worry about the Sir Patrick Stewart or Sir Ian McKellen fans or (heaven forbid) Jennifer Lawrence’s fans being upset that the movies with them are being written off. Remember: Those movies still exist and you can watch them any time you want. Right now, it’s all about turning the X-Men, or rather, mutants, back into a profitable commodity, which after Dark Phoenix, they are not… except for in the comics… and there’s still lots of stories and ideas to cultivate from there as well.
4. Make sure to tie these mutants into the current MCU straight away
Whether this means having Spider-Man swing in to meet the kids or something more overt like introducing the “X-Men” in an Avengers movie, what’s made much of the new characters work is by having them placed firmly in line with the MCU. Even standalone movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange had connections to the rest of the MCU without necessarily featuring other characters, so any mutant movie needs to do the same. It might be a little harder now that the overarching Thanos/Infinity Stones story arc ended with Endgame.
My idea is that the first threat Charles Xavier’s students have to face is Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. You can totally make Magneto the father of Elisabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch and … just bring back Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver. Introducing him in Avengers: Age of Ultron and then immediately killing him off just never made any sense, although maybe that’s because there was a superior Quicksilver being introduced in Fox’s X-Men movies. It will be sad to see Evan Peters not in the role, but when Magneto shows up with his Brotherhood — as he should — Quicksilver should be one of the crew, as should Toad and other early X-Men. (Maybe Quicksilver was snapped back to life in Endgame and is probably mad at the Avengers for forsaking him.)
Since the Brotherhood will probably be too big a threat for the younger mutants to handle, that gives an excuse to bring in the existing Avengers fight against them, thereby introducing the idea of mutants into the MCU using the same methods that other characters have been introduced. I have a feeling that movies like Black Widow and The Eternals and Shang-Chi will be too busy introducing those characters to deal with mutants, but little hints even in end credit scenes would go a long way to introduce a bigger storyline involving mutants.
This is probably my most out-there idea, but maybe the idea of mutants should be introduced to the MCU with a whole new group that has no direct connections to any of the Fox/Singer/Kinberg movies. There has been a hint of there being a Brian Braddock aka Captain Britain in the MCU’s version of the United Kingdom, and the group as created by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis are a wild and wooly bunch that would be unlike anything else seen in movies… except maybe Guardians of the Galaxy.
I won’t go through an entire history of the team, because you can go read about them on Wikipedia just as easily, but Captain Britain wasn’t really a mutant character originally, but just a Marvel UK superhero that eventually got pulled over to American comics. There was some crossover with the regular X-Men with Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde and the Rachel Summer Phoenix in the group, but Psylocke originated as Brian’s sister Betsy Braddock before going through a much more complicated transformation than needs to be addressed. There’s also the shapeshifter Meggan who can easily replace the need for Mystique. There’s also the opportunity to introduce some of Warren Ellis’ snarkier members of the team, like Pete Wisdom, to mix things up a bit.
What makes Excalibur fun is that they’ve been a group that can travel through time and space and encounter all sorts of oddball versions of the group, and it’s just a stranger and quirkier take on the X-Men that might work well as a standalone movie… again… ala Guardians of the Galaxy.
6. Bring on Deadpool!
This should be the biggest no-brainer that no one at Disney should be contesting. Thanks to the two Deadpool movies, Ryan Reynolds is a bonafide A-list star now, and I’m willing to be that he would love to continue playing the character. Disney owns Fox and Marvel, which means that Marvel Studios could easily start throwing Deadpool into other MCU movies. The question is whether the fans of the R-rated motormouth will be okay with him making PG-13 appearances in other movies, since I don’t expect Marvel to make R-rated superhero movies anytime soon.
Sure, they do have that Blade movie somewhere on the horizon, and in theory, Black Widow could be a violent action-thriller, but no, Marvel is going to stick to what works, which is PG-13.
But imagine if, all of a sudden, Deadpool is in the MCU and all of those characters need to deal with him getting in their face. How would Thor react to Deadpool? Or Chris Pratt’s Starlord? Heck, you can even have Ryan Reynolds show up in an after-credits scene and do some schtick and people will love it. After all, it doesn’t seem like the next few movies are going to be part of an all-consuming story arc over that whole Thanos thing, so there’s less need to connect the universe together, at least for a couple years. Just have Deadpool show up, say and do some funny stuff, and it’ll get people excited for when he returns, either in a third solo movie, an X-Force movie… or maybe even EXCALIBUR!
Let us know what you think of the ideas above or if you have any ideas of your own in the comments.