It's a wild time in the X-Men franchise. Fox's second attempt at a movie centered on Phoenix in due in June, and The New Mutants is presumably coming at some point as well. The larger news, however, is that Disney will soon be getting control of the mutants via the Disney-Fox merger, and there's been endless speculation about how the Marvel Cinematic Universe could incorporate the characters. It's either taking the existing lineup of characters and folding them them in, or scrapping the entire franchise and starting from scratch with a reboot.
Truth be told, if Marvel retconned the X-Men franchise to incorporate it into the MCU, I wouldn't shed a single tear. In fact, it's my preferred strategy for the merger at this stage, as incorporating the current characters in with Phase 4 and beyond would be a big mistake. Why? It comes down to a recent revelation I had after seeing the powdery blue new look that Jennifer Lawrence is sporting in Dark Phoenix:
This particular makeup job is arguably representational of the X-Men franchise at large over the years. It started off as one thing, constantly changed over the years, and has varied drastically in quality. Sometimes the franchise is looking good, like Mystique in X-Men: First Class. Then there's the other times where it's been less than good, and it's more like her latest appearance.
There's been good X-Men films, and there's been horrifically bad ones - and it's a level of inconsistency that we thankfully haven't seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even the Rotten Tomatoes score of Thor: The Dark World is higher than X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and X-Men: Apocalypse. It's gotten to a point where, as an audience, we've come to expect the quality of an upcoming film is a dice roll at best, and that's a problem when it comes to merging the brands.
This is particularly true for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is in the process of saying goodbye to several heroes integral to its success throughout the past decade. It will be a big enough task for Marvel Studios to lay new groundwork and attempt to replicate its success over another decade, and adding the currently existing X-Men franchise to canon would make that so much harder. Hard enough, at least, that one has to sit back and wonder if it's really worth doing at all.
Admittedly bringing the X-Men into the Marvel Universe would potentially net the franchise some solid talent. James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Sophie Turner, and Evan Peters would all make for great additions provided they're on board. That's a big if, though, because let's not forget, Dark Phoenix takes place decades before the events going in the contemporary MCU.
So, either Marvel could age up the characters in makeup, which seems unlikely, or they could continue the continuity with a new set of actors, such as the original X-Men cast. The latter doesn't seem likely, though, given the bulk original X-Men's cast is approaching or beyond 50. Plus, let's remember that, no offense to the rest of the cast, the two main people most fans would want to return are now dead in the X-Men timeline. For years many have begged for Hugh Jackman's Wolverine to appear in an Marvel Cinematic Universe feature, but it's just not a realistic dream to hold anymore. Bringing Jackman back to play the character now would create another plot inconsistency in the X-Men timeline, and kind of shit on the emotional weight and awesomeness of Logan - which also saw the death of the other aforementioned beloved hero: Patrick Stewart's Professor X. There was once a time where this was a great dream to have and fight for, but those days are long gone.
The remaining character in the X-Men continuity seemingly worth keeping around is Deadpool. I count myself among those who want to see his integration happen, but also worry that keeping the X-Men out or rebooting the team for the Marvel Cinematic Universe would keep him from ever being included. The hope is that the Merc With The Mouth's nature could help him in this arena. He's pretty far-removed from the franchise as is, and his fourth-wall breaking abilities make it easy enough for him to outwardly address the elephant in the room in a comedic way rather than having to create some elaborate plot to explain the situation.
Beyond the chance to potentially succeed doing something incredibly challenging, there doesn't seem to be much reason for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to absorb the current X-Men continuity. Doing so would only put the burden of its uneven and sometimes incomprehensible story lines into a universe that's been so well constructed, and basically the gold standard for a shared universe. What's so bad about starting fresh and introducing a rebooted batch of mutants that can carry us into the next decade and beyond? This is especially true when Marvel has story lines like Avengers vs. X-Men, which, while polarizing within the comic book world, would still be an absolute blast to see on the big screen. Plus imagine a future Avengers lineup that includes characters like Cyclops or Storm, or even a new Wolverine. Sure, there may never be another actor to play the character as well as Hugh Jackman, but we'll never know until Hollywood tries someone else.
Do you feel the same way, or do you think there is good reason why the X-Men movies franchise should exist as canon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? You can feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section, and vote in our poll below. Dark Phoenix is due out in theaters June 7th, and New Mutants will be released August 2nd - and it's possible we'll have a much better idea of what the future holds for the X-Men then. Check out the latest international trailer in the meantime, and read what the director had to say about the film's delay.