Can the MCU Do The X-Men Justice?
Dark Phoenix may be coming again, but the X-Men are on their way to the MCU. Can Kevin Feige and his colleagues do the X-Men justice?
“I very much doubt it will be something that resembles what you’ve seen before.”
As you and every other non-normie out there know by now, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four are now owned by Disney. Eventually, their huge catalogs of characters, concepts, and stories will be utilized by the MCU. And that’s a good thing, right?
I’m among those that admit Fox’s efforts to bring the X-Men to life were hit or miss, and they never quite got a hold of the Fantastic Four. Then there is the whole issue of how to make the X-Men’s world really tick. What is going to be the driving force behind Magneto? He can’t very well still be based on a Holocaust survivor if this is going to be set in the 2020s and beyond. Kevin Feige has led the MCU to resounding success over the last 11-years and 22 movies. Question is; can they do the same for what is arguably their most important intellectual property, the X-Men?
Recently, The Avengers: Endgame, writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely sat down with the LA Times and were asked about what they thought the next phase of MCU films will look like, now that Disney had control over the X-Men and Fantastic Four. The response we got was both intriguing and a bit troubling for me;
“It’ll be fascinating to see what Kevin Feige does with the properties he’s now getting from the Fox merger with X-Men and Fantastic Four and to see what the MCU version of those things is because I very much doubt it will be something that resembles what you’ve seen before. So that will be very exciting.”
I’m not saying that this is going to be all doom and gloom. I trust Feige and his producers to put out a great product, in my opinion, they’ve only stumbled once or twice. They at least know how to embrace the properties they do own, and even borrow from established properties (you can’t tell me with a straight face that Feige and company didn’t graft parts of the X-Men’s space pirates, the Starjammers, for their take on the Guardians of the Galaxy). Why Fox never crossed over the X-Men and Fantastic Four properties is probably one of the biggest missed opportunities of the entire endeavor. Especially because Fox basically owned HALF of the Marvel universe. There was a lot they could have done there, but that’s water under the bridge.
My biggest fear is that they are going to use the concept of mutants as a shortcut to give powers to characters that are not traditionally mutants. If you know the origin of the concept in the books, that is basically what Stan Lee did. He was running out of ideas/excuses as to why characters were suddenly flying through the air and smashing buildings. There can only be so many nuclear explosions, alien-gods, geniuses, and radioactive spiders to go around before things just get really silly.
Funny enough, this wouldn’t be the first time Marvel would pull something like this. By that, I mean suddenly discovering that an established or new character is a mutant. Elektra, Cloak and Dagger, and even Falcon for a while were aboard the X-Men hype train in the late 80s to 90s. In all three cases, it was either forgotten or later disproved with a handwave. The reverse was also done with Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch when being attached to the X-Men suddenly became a bad thing. This may have been able to fly in the books; an ecosystem that’s populated by fans with enough comic sense to know how these things work. However, the general viewing audience isn’t as savvy as the common comic book reader. They’ll take whatever they see, run with it as gospel, and honor themselves as fluorescent hair dyed expert commentators.
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The next concern for me is exactly how they are going to insert the X-Men into the MCU in this “fascinating,” “never before seen” fashion. There are several ways, but only a couple that make sense seeing as how the MCU likes to work. The Ultimate Universe route that involved a retrovirus or pathogen that was developed from a single source (Wolverine). The other being some anomalous method involving the aftermath of the time travel shenanigans in Endgame. The laziest way is just pull characters in from the newly established “multiverse” (it’s not all that new, it was originally brought up back in Doctor Strange). In that way, they’ll be able to build their new franchise using a pre-existing foundation and status quo, but that’d hardly be “never before seen” territory.
The Fantastic Four can be brand new MCU concepts at any time, but for the X-Men to work and not start from scratch (like 1960’s level scratch), mutants need some sort of back history to work with. That’s not even the only issue. The MCU with; Infinity War, End Game, 2 Guardians movie, and Captain Marvel, has been crisscrossing deep space for a few years now. At some point, the bigger X-Men concepts are going to have to come into play. Something Fox never explored, sadly. How is Marvel Studios going to explain the existence of the Shi’Ar Empire without compromising it or watering it down? A massive alien race with influence over entire galaxies, yet no one has even bothered to mention yet. Heck, I’m going to find it hard to swallow that Thanos was able to assemble the Infinity Gauntlet, erased all life in the universe, and walked in the skull of a Celestial, but no one to this point had ever mentioned Galactus.
The last bit was mostly nit-picking. How they are going to tackle the most celestial portions of their acquired properties is the least of my worries. Even if that does genuinely intrigue me.
The X-Men, even more than the Fantastic Four, deserve to be set up properly, which is why I’m all for Feige taking his time to fit them in, even if I don’t buy the whole “we have a plan and they weren’t in it, so they have to wait” BS. They didn’t originally have control over Spider-Man, but once they did, pumped out two movies with him within two years of each other. By all means, take your time, but don’t give me that.
The introduction of the X-Men is as inevitable as Thanos at this point, it’s the “how” and “when” that’s still up in the air. As long as Marvel Studios give the X-Men the pomp and scope they are due, I trust any drastic changes to their lore will be bearable. Hopefully.
Do you think the MCU will be able to do the X-Men justice? How do you think they might introduce mutants into the MCU?