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With the arrival of 2018 we are now entering the 18th year of existence for the big screen X-Men franchise -- and boy, has it changed a lot over the years. No longer just a single main-line series, it has blossomed into a full cinematic universe, growing spin-offs made by filmmakers given freedom to experiment with rating and genre. The full scope of the future is a bit of a mystery thanks to the looming merger between the Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox, but at the very least there are some very big things going down in the next 12 months.

There are two new X-Men movies coming in 2018, with plenty of machinations going on behind the scenes -- and all this certainly generates a certain amount of expectation. There are some key events, happenings, and moves that we are looking forward to this year, and we have built this feature with those desires. So read on, and tell us what you personally want to see from the X-Men franchise in the coming days, weeks, and months.

Gambit Issue #1

Finally Cancel The Gambit Movie

After a crazy extended development period, the Gambit movie looked like it was finally going to go into production this year. Fox carved out a Valentine's Day 2019 release date for the blockbuster, and they had secured Fox veteran Gore Verbinski to helm the film starring Channing Tatum. The last few months have outwardly appeared to be the most optimistic in the history of the project... but now the project has lost Verbinski and is back to square one.

All in all, Gambit has now lost a total of three directors -- Rupert Wyatt, Doug Liman, and Gore Verbinski -- and that certainly seems like a sign from the Movie Gods that it's time to just throw in the towel. The titular mutant certainly has his fans, but there aren't a ton of people demanding this project, and there is clearly some kind of pre-existing wrench in the gears that is causing a lot of problems. Channing Tatum and producer Lauren Schuler Donner seem dedicated to making this film happen, but with the Disney-Fox deal on the horizon, it may be best if they just let this one go. The studio has pushed the film's release date back to June 7, 2019, but here's hoping that before the end of the year they just decide to kill it.

Deadpool Wet On Wet Teaser

No Big Plot Reveals For Deadpool 2 Before It's Released

Thanks to the script leaking out and the fact that it was an origin story, Tim Miller's Deadpool was a film that we knew quite a bit about long before it was actually released -- but the same can't be said for the sequel. One of the luxuries of the superhero sequel, with the characters firmly established, is that the story can really go anywhere, and that is most certainly the cast with the untitled Deadpool 2. We know that it will introduce key heroes Cable (Josh Brolin) and Domino (Zazie Beetz), but that's just about it. And you know what? We hope that it stays that way.

Not only would it be nice to go into Deadpool 2 not really having any clue what to expect, but the truth is also that the film doesn't really need to explain itself plot-wise. Because the titular Merc With The Mouth is notorious for the way in which he breaks the fourth wall, the Fox marketing team can simply lean on Ryan Reynolds to do a lot of goofy in-character stuff leading up to the newly-minted May 18 release and get audiences just as excited. This worked perfectly with the Wet On Wet teaser that came out in late 2017, and they can just keep doing that until the movie is ready to come out.

Deadpool Cable Artwork

Legitimate Time Travel

Those of you who also read my similar Marvel Cinematic Universe-themed feature earlier this week might find this section familiar -- and it's because I used it there too. In defense of the X-Men franchise, they have used time travel before, as it was a key part of the plot in X-Men: Days of Future Past. That was simply sending someone's mind into the past, however. In 2018, specifically in Deadpool 2, we are expecting a full-on, proper use of the narrative device.

In case you haven't put two-and-two together yet, I'm referring to the way in which Deadpool 2 utilizes Cable. The post-credits scene in the first Deadpool clearly identified the character as a time-traveler (in the comics he hails from an apocalyptic future and returns modern day to prevent it), and we're sincerely hoping that the movie doesn't simply feature his temporal trekking as a one way trip. Not only would it be a ton of fun to see Cable and Deadpool on an adventure slingshot-ing through time, but it would be a great way to play off the non-linear storytelling of the 2016 hit.

Deadpool 2 Domino Zazie Beetz

At Least One Crazy Rube Goldberg-Esque Sequence With Domino At The Center

The X-Men franchise has showcased many, many different mutant powers in the last 18 years, but the big screen has never seen anything like what Domino brings to the table. Outwardly, it would appear that her genetic gift is good luck: even in the most improbable of circumstances, things seem to work in her favor. The science behind this, however, is that she has a subconscious telekinetic ability that allows her to minutely change things in her environment. Given her profession as an assassin, this often manifests itself with enemy guns jamming and fortunate ricochets -- but one thing that we really want to see in Deadpool 2 is at least one sequence that operates like a Rube Goldberg machine, with a crazy number of tiny little actions resulting in a surprising final effect.

Admittedly we have seen this kind of style in movies before, as the Final Destination movies basically built a horror franchise around the idea, but it would be wonderful to see it executed in some kind of major action sequence in David Leitch's Deadpool 2. We already know that screenwriters/producers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick can script a dazzling detail-driven, effects-heavy sequence (just look at the opening of Deadpool), and we just want to see that kind of filmmaking used in Domino's debut.

Vanessa Morena Baccarin Deadpool

A Twist For Vanessa

In the first Deadpool, Morena Baccarin's Vanessa played a crucial role. It was not only Wade Wilson's love for her that drove him to the mutant experiments to cure his cancer; but also hopes of seeing her again that led him to track down Ajax in search for a cure for his ugly deformity. That was all resolved before the credits rolled on the film, which makes us wonder what kind of part she will play in Deadpool 2. While there are certainly no guarantees, one thing we'd love to see is the movie take a page from the comics and reveal her as a secret mutant.

The version of Vanessa featured in the first Deadpool is very much an accurate representation of who she is in the comics: a prostitute who is the true love of Wade Wilson. However, one detail that was left out is the fact that she is actually a shapeshifter. Including this in Deadpool 2 would require careful handling, as there will be the looming question of, "Why didn't we know this before?" but it could wind up being fun character development and provide a larger role for her to play than "romantic interest" or "damsel in distress."

Jean Grey X-Men Apocalypse Sophie Turner

Have Jean Grey Be The True Lead Character Of The Dark Phoenix Saga

There are many problems that we can point to in Brett Ratner's X-Men: The Last Stand, but there is one in particular that very much stands out: it centers on the wrong protagonist. The movie was the X-Men franchise's first attempt at adapting the classic Dark Phoenix Saga from the comics, but rather than having Jean Grey a.k.a. Dark Phoenix (played by Famke Janssen) as the lead, the production instead decided to let Hugh Jackman's Wolverine take the lion's share of the spotlight. Simon Kinberg's upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix is the perfect way to repent for all of the sins of the past, but easily the most important is actually letting Jean have her moment.

Given the way that the franchise has manufactured a weird dependency on James McAvoy's Professor X, Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique, and Michael Fassbender's Magneto since 2011, we have our concerns in this department. Still, the movie has shown us that they are trying out some new things (like sending the titular team to space), so there is hope that they will let this film feature the proper lead character.

80s Jean Grey Jubilee

Let The '90s Vibe Stand Out

One of the biggest flaws of X-Men: Apocalypse is the fact that, unlike X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, it didn't really take advantage of its 1980s setting. Sure, there was the mall sequence, but what was on screen was actually a very small portion of what was actually filmed (and it would have benefited the whole thing if it had been included). Now that the storyline is heading to the 1990s, we're sincerely hoping that X-Men: Dark Phoenix doesn't skimp on the period atmosphere.

Not only was the early 1990s an easily identifiable era stylistically -- full of torn jeans, flannel and grunge rock from Seattle -- but also a period for which many members of the audiences are going to have nostalgic feelings. It's too bad they didn't pick source material actually from that decade -- such as Phalanx Covenant or Fatal Attractions -- but so long as they don't skimp on the vibe it should still work. Hopefully Simon Kinberg will deliver more than just a fun movie marquee and a Nirvana track as background music for a scene.

Cyclops Tye Sheridan X-Men Apocalypse

Cyclops Needs To Be An Appropriately Cool Character

As noted, X-Men: Dark Phoenix needs to be Jean Grey's story more than anyone's, but at long last it finally offers up a real chance for Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops to stand out in this franchise. Because of the movies' emphasis on Wolverine, Cyclops has been relegated to being a romantic opponent/background character for years, but now is finally the time to let him be showcased.

Tye Sheridan has proved many times to be a sharp, young talent, and we're sincerely hoping that X-Men: Dark Phoenix gives him the material he deserves as Cyclops. Not only is there the obvious avenue of furthering his romantic relationship with Jean Grey through the film, but it would be nice if it also offered the chance for him to show off some growing leadership skills (after all, he'll be a 10-year veteran when we next see him). We'll probably have to wait for an adaptation of Inferno or X-Tinction Agenda for him to really get the spotlight, but this could be a step in the right direction.

The New Mutants Wolfsbane Maisie Williams

A Connection Between Dark Phoenix And The New Mutants

For a long time it looked like 2018 was going to be the first time that the X-Men franchise put out three titles in one year, but that's no longer a thing. The movie that was originally slated to come out first, Josh Boone's The New Mutants, has been pushed back 10 months, and will now come out in February 2019. This means it will be the first title in the series to come out after X-Men: Dark Phoenix -- but that just has us hoping that the former features some kind of lead-in to the latter.

It's true that there will be a time gap between the two features, as X-Men: Dark Phoenix will be set in the 1990s and The New Mutants is set in modern day, but that doesn't mean that there aren't ways to bridge that gap. While it's true that Professor Xavier won't be appearing in the more horror-driven feature, the character has important ties to the New Mutants in the comics, and it would be nice for X-Men: Dark Phoenix to establish some kind of connection between the two films -- even if it's just a post-credits sequence.

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