Doctor Strange did more than just fully introduce magic to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It also pulled back the curtain on alternate dimensions, which were touched upon in Ant-Man last year through the Quantum Realm. Before this movie, any antagonist threatening Earth, Asgard or one of the MCU's other major locations came from "our" universe. Now this franchise has a multiverse to work with, opening doors to new realities that don't obey the same laws of nature. But it doesn't have to just be threats that come from these other realities. If the right opportunities present themselves, this Doctor Strange game changer may hold they key to finally bringing in the X-Men and Fantastic Four into the MCU.
If you're reading this, you probably already know that the X-Men and Fantastic Four film rights still belong to 20th Century Fox. Despite some bumps along the way, the X-Men film series continues to move forward after 16 years, most recently with Deadpool and X-Men: Apocalypse. The Fantastic Four, on the other hand, haven't had a lot of big screen success across two connected movies and the 2015 reboot. Regardless, Fox still retains control, and unlike how Marvel and Sony made an arrangement to work together on Spider-Man, there are no plans in store to add the X-Men and Fantastic Four to the MCU. But it may not always be like that. At some point, Fox may decide they want to work with Marvel on these properties, whether it's because they're finally open to a partnership or they've somehow found themselves in a creative rut with the mutant superheroes and Marvel's First Family. It could be years until this happens, but it's not an impossible idea.
So assuming that someday the X-Men and Fantastic Four will be incorporated into the MCU, how can this be accomplished? Easy: turn to the multiverse. In Doctor Strange, The Ancient One showed Stephen Strange a number of other dimensions that sorcerer can travel to, like the Dark Dimension and Mirror Dimension. Most were freaky and didn't follow the same laws of nature (I still see the one with hands coming out fingers on other hands in my nightmares), but it stands to reason there are a number of other universes out there that are more normal. Put the X-Men and Fantastic Four in their own self-contained universes. The concept of similar, yet different, worlds in Marvel is nothing new. Whether it's the Ultimate universe or the 1602 universe, other realities have existed alongside the main 616 universe in the Marvel Comics continuity, even after the Secret Wars event occurred.
The MCU already has enough heroes, so by keeping those other two teams (and their respective supporting casts) in their own worlds, they can still operate relatively unimpeded by what's happening in the MCU. However, when an appropriate situation present itself, the X-Men and Fantastic Four could be transported to the main Marvel world by magical or scientific means. Look at Supergirl on The CW as an example. The Girl of Steel lives on a different Earth than the one where Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow take place, but she is still able to interact with these other heroes when she travels to their world or vice-versa, like in the upcoming crossover. The MCU can have the same dynamic with the X-Men and Fantastic Four.
Think about it. There would be one world where X-Men use their abilities to protect humanity and mutants alike on their own. In another world, the Fantastic Four are Earth's primary defenders all unusual threats, whether extra terrestrial or monstrosities from a mad scientist's lab. Then both teams learn that there are other universes out there, and when the time is right, they'll be brought into the MCU to assist the Avengers against an incredible threat, like Galactus. Once the threat is resolved, they can go back to their own realities and continue their self-contained adventures. That way Fox can get the best of both worlds (unintended pun, but that worked out nicely).
As for whether the MCU should incorporate existing versions of the X-Men and Fantastic Four or use rebooted iterations, I vote the latter. The current X-Men franchise is starting to show its age, and after nearly two decades, maybe now is the time to put a fresh spin on this mythos. In the Fantastic Four's case, I think we can all agree that there's no reason to revisit the iteration of the team introduced last year. They say the third time's the charm, so let's introduce a new Fantastic Four that will finally receive the respect, attention and faithfulness this Marvel team deserves. 2019's Avengers 4 will not only conclude the MCU's Phase Three and lay the groundwork for Phase Four, it will also usher in a new beginning for this franchise. If ever there was a time to bring the X-Men and Fantastic Four into the fold, it would be at that point, and by taking this mulitversal approach, those properties would still be guaranteed an appropriate amount of freedom.
What do you think? Is putting the X-Men and Fantastic Four (whether they're new or established) in other areas of the MCU multiverse a wise approach, or should these teams live in the same reality as the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and more? Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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