Comic book television is soaring to new heights of popularity right now, and Fox wants to add to its comic book programming. This week we learned they are developing a live-action X-Men TV series. Not long after the story broke, it was revealed that the series may take inspiration from the run of Peter David’s X-Factor in the early 90s. Now, only days after the first announcement, Fox is already looking at characters to lead their venture to the small screen, with several established film characters being considered for series leads.
According to Film Divided, Jamie Madrox, a.k.a. the Multiple Man, is being looked at as one of the main characters. Madrox appeared in X-Men: The Last Stand and was clearly identified as “Jamie Madrox.” This isn’t like Emma Frost in the films, where a character named Emma with diamond skin powers appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but later showed the real Emma Frost hanging out with Sebastian Shaw in X-Men: First Class. Madrox has already been introduced, so if X-Factor is a period piece pre-2006, it will be difficult to rectify this continuity issue. Of course, retconning is common in comic book stories, and Multiple Man wasn’t a crucial character to The Last Stand, so it wouldn’t be unprecedented to include Madrox in the past anyway. At worst, they could change his last name.
Quicksilver is another character mentioned as a possibility since he was one of the team members during David’s run. Luckily for Fox, Quicksilver was the breakout star in Days of Future Past. Evan Peters’ performance was so popular that they’re bringing him back for X-Men: Apocalypse. If this series takes place in the 1980s, Peter Maximoff would fit right in, and Peters would likely be on board. However, if the show decides to set it in the present day, this could present a similar problem to the one Madrox faces. They might recast an older actor as Quicksilver, they could somehow transfer the Peters version to the future, or maybe they’ll just create an entirely new version of the character. There’s probably another silver-haired guy with super speed running around out there...right?
Of course, male-led superhero shows aren’t hard to find these days, and the creative powers are also contemplating having a female lead. This would be a wise choice since there are no female-lead supehero movie or TV projects out there right now. If the show were to take place in the present, Anna Paquin might be a good pick. True Blood is finished, and Rogue is an established mutant audiences are familiar with. However, considering most of the characters will likely be new, it might be better to go with Valerie Cooper, the team’s government liaison, as the female lead. If they’re being inspired by Fringe, she can be the Olivia Dunham of X-Factor, and she’ll work either in the past or present.
Fox is lucky because it essentially has a blank slate to work with. Thanks to X-Men: Days of Future Past, the timeline was revised. While some events may have happened the same way as in the original timeline, aside from Cyclops, Jean Grey and Beast still being alive and Xavier’s school still standing, we don’t know exactly what differences there are between the two timelines. X-Men: Apocalypse will explore the status quo in the early 1980s, but this is basically new terrain the franchise has to work with. There’s also the fact that thanks to Wolverine, Professor X and Quicksilver breaking Magneto out of his Pentagon cell, mutants were publicly exposed much earlier than in the original timeline. One option is that X-Factor could be a period piece about mutants between X-Men: Apocalypse and the present day timeline of Days of Future Past. The series would be a good opportunity to examine mutant life in this revised timeline, specifically the persecution and bigotry they’ve dealt with.
The X-Men film franchise has encountered some bumps in its 14 years, but the series has been revitalized in recent years. If Fox plays their cards right, this series would make a worthy addition to the canon by not only introducing us to new characters, but by closely examining how mutants are living in this new timeline. Sure we like to see Wolverine and the gang beat up Magneto and Sentinels, but it’s about time a more thoughtful approach is considered, and TV is the perfect medium for this. The trick will be making sure not to conflict with the action-packed story lines the movies are telling.