I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that incorporating the X-Men into the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be the toughest challenge the superhero franchise has dealt with to date. Not only will Marvel Studios be re-introducing one of Marvel's most iconic and recognizable heroes to its audience, but it will also have to do it in a way that acknowledges what all has happened thus far in the MCU.
It's been discussed to death the ways Marvel Studios can introduce the X-Men while still retaining the identity, ages and past stories of key characters. Personally, I'm wondering if it wouldn't be more interesting, or even necessary, to retell the story of the X-Men entirely. It's a hot take, to be sure, but there are plenty of good reasons for Marvel to consider this route rather than some multiversal integration or something else of that nature.
The X-Men Story Is Just Too Big To Simply Blend Without Issues
In the X-Men universe, mutants are essentially as old as human history itself. They've been around for the rise and fall of Egypt, medieval times and even World War II. The story of mutants, especially the most famous among them, is so prominently ingrained in human history that it would be straight-up dumb for Marvel Studios to suddenly pretend they exist in the MCU when no one in that universe has so much as mentioned them prior to now.
It's a fictional universe, sure, but the suspension of disbelief can only be stretched so far with audiences. A key part of the X-Men is that they're disenfranchised people, so bringing them into an MCU where there's been no prior conversation of mutant rights, aggression or protest instantly weakens their story. Even if it's our 100th time learning about mutants, we need that conflict to show the complex problems these characters face and the juxtaposition between them and the average Marvel superhero.
I believe a lot of people think it's as simple as putting the mutants in their own universe and letting them come and go as they please. That may be ultimately what Marvel Studios does, but I think it's important to acknowledge the downside and what's lost in doing that. After all, we didn't wait decades for Marvel Studios to get back the rights to these characters only to keep them segregated from the rest of the MCU, so why not do it right and find a way to properly introduce them?
The MCU Is The Ultimate Platform To Retell The Tale Of Its Most Iconic Heroes
It's fair to say that Marvel currently has the biggest public stage that it's had in its entire history. With that territory comes an opportunity to present new and exciting possibilities for characters, or even a chance to spotlight lesser-known ones. We all know the Guardians of the Galaxy were not even close to the level of popularity they now celebrate because of the MCU, and while the X-Men don't really need help being more popular, they could benefit from a different kind of MCU exposure.
Re-tooling the story of the mutants is one thing if it's a limited comic book event. Marvel makes retcons and changes to characters all the time in comics, and the average consumer may never know. If Marvel does this in the MCU though, people will notice. Hell, just the mention that it would happen would garner a ton of interest, though again, it's not like the X-Men really need that kind of hype to get people excited.
Let's be honest, Fox exhausted a decent number of the major X-Men stories worth adapting during its tenure. There will need to be new mutant stories to be told, so why not just go all the way and allow the MCU to be the place for an entirely new X-Men origin? Roll the dice on an original story, and there's a good chance of making the MCU more complex, as well as entertaining audiences for an untold extra number of years.
The X-Men Story Could Use Some Updating
Marvel Comics has delivered various changes to the X-Men origin story over the years, but none are more widely known than Charles Xavier's search for the mutants and the subsequent founding of his School for Gifted Youngsters and the X-Men. That's the basis for 2000's X-Men, and while it got a bit more nuanced with lore in X-Men: First Class, the bones of the story are still there.
It's a fine story, albeit one that's somewhat embedded in time. Pre-internet and smartphone use, it's completely feasible that one man set off, discovered mutants and kept them guarded in safety, but in this information age, it is not likely. There are also more minor details to be dealt with, like Magneto's origin being that of a Holocaust survivor, which would make him either at or pushing 100 in the present day. These aren't details that necessarily need to be removed, but there needs to be some tweaking and explanation in the MCU if these story elements remain in place.
It's important that Marvel Studios tells the story of the X-Men the right way, but it's also important these characters are relatable to a wide audience. Does a Cyclops born in 1975 and pushing 50 speak to America more than one born in 1995? I know I, for one, have had my fill of the classic tales, and would be all for a new twist on the characters I haven't seen before. But, as stated, I'm also completely fine with leaving the core of a mutant's story within the framework of any new story, but we do need those tweaks to help make the mutants relatable?
Obviously I have no say or clue what Marvel Studios will do with the X-Men. I just know what I don't want to see, and recognize the massive opportunity for Marvel to do something really cool with the MCU it's never done before. A full-on franchise re-launch of the X-Men within the MCU would be huge and something truly special. It also could be an unmitigated disaster and a blight on the MCU, but let's focus on the positives here!
Would you support the MCU looking to tell a new origin story for prominent X-Men characters? Sound off on our poll, and for the latest on Mutants in the MCU, there's already one actress who would love to step into the MCU as a Mutant she played in the past.
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Mick contains multitudes and balances his time reporting on big happenings in the world of Star Trek, the WWE, reality television, and other sci-fi shows.