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"Marvel hates the X-Men." That's been the popular conspiracy theory from comic readers looming over the run of X-Men comics for the last few years. Mutant-kind has been on the brink of extinction (again), with it seemingly appearing that Marvel was preparing to replace the X-Men with the Inhumans (in the comics, anyway). However, those fears can be packed away because this week, Marvel is rolling out a huge revamp of their X-Men line, making the team more hopeful than they've been in years. This new focus on the X-Men is great for readers, but it's also great for movie fans.
Superhero comics and movies are locked in a larger cyclical relationship. Comics serve as the main inspiration for movie storylines, while at the same time movies sway creative decisions in the comics (just look at any Guardians of the Galaxy comic before 2014). It stands to reason than that Marvel's rejuvenated X-Men comics could have the same effect on Fox's X-Men franchise -- which for a time, Marvel seemed to actively stifle.
Let's give a brief history lesson on the rivalry between Marvel and Fox to better understand the significance of new X-Men comics. Currently, Fox owns the movie and television rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four, with no intention of ever giving them back to Marvel Studios. This led to rumors that Marvel Comics was actively trying to kill -- or at the very least limit -- those properties' comic book presence.
Examples of this include (takes deep breath): no X-Men action figures or merchandise (which Fox does not have the rights to); killing Wolverine in the comics, who at the time was the X-Men's most marketable character; retconning Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver's backstory as mutants; completely disbanding the Fantastic Four; prohibiting writers from creating new mutant characters so that Fox can't use them; and the mutant race on the verge of extinction, while the Inhumans -- who are essentially mutant stand-in's in the MCU -- suddenly found their numbers greatly increasing. When Marvel plugs events called "Death of X," you can see why this rumor gained some credence.
True, things have not been looking good for the X-Men these past few years. The Terrigen Mists, which create new Inhumans, also kills mutants (yup, no allusions there), which has caused the X-Men to literally live in a hellish dimension while they try to survive their demise. However, that all changes this week with the release ofX-Men: Gold #1 and X-Men: Blue #1.
Harkening back to the 90's, arguably the absolute height of the X-Men's power (which was huge), the new books focus on recognizable fan-favorite characters back in classic costumes just being superheroes. Marvel currently has seven new X-books rolling out through the rest of the year, restoring faith that these dark days and pity back-and-forth wars with Fox are over.
Fox's X-Men films have seen their own dark days, with a possible light at the end of the tunnel. Much like the comics, the X-Men films find themselves in a transitional phase. After the lackluster response to X-Men: Apocalypse, Fox hasn't been quick to announce their plans going forward, and while that's most likely due to the contract negotiations of its Jennifer Lawrence-sized stars, the franchise is in need of some tinkering.
Whether that tinkering means finally abandoning this boring one decade-a-movie time jumping or finding a new cast, the movies can learn a lot from the current state of comics. The books have fresh new creative teams attached to them, steering the story in a more hopeful direction. Maybe it's time for Simon Kinberg to take a backseat and let some new kids play? It worked wonders for X-Men: First Class and it can happen again. At any rate, they at least now have some new upcoming stories to take advantage of.
The X-Men movies are entering a possible renaissance thanks to Deadpool and Logan, with several promising spin-offs like New Mutants and X-Force on the way. Couple that with the new comic books arriving this week, and Marvel hopefully finished with holding Fox by the balls, then it's very good to be an X-Men fan again.
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