Why the X-Men Shouldn’t Join the MCU

Recently there have been rumors that 20th Century Fox and Marvel Studios have started preliminary talks about having shared custody over the X-Men and Fantastic Four properties – similar to what Sony and Marvel did with Spider-Man. The rumor was started by Matt Key, a producer on Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast, saying “I’ve heard from a few of my sources, my little birds that Fox and Marvel have… kind of talked, but not really, but like there’s interest from Fox, like, ‘Ooh, y’know, what they did with Sony and Spider-Man is actually pretty cool, like, maybe…’ We’re years away from that ever possibly happening… but I think that’s what it would take… Fox joining hands with Marvel…”

Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe would naturally be excited to see some of Marvel’s most famous characters joining the series especially seeing how Fox royally screwed the Fantastic Four three times. It is also a huge bug-bare for Marvel not to have the rights to all their characters and the studio has been on a mission to regain them in any shape or form. Yet it would make little sense for the X-Men to join the MCU.

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First and foremost the X-Men film series has mostly been successful for Fox, making nearly $4.37 Billion at the box office and averages a 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Only one of the X-Men movies that is truly awful is X-Men Origins: Wolverine – plagued by production troubles, a studio head undermining its director and having embarrassing special effects for a major superhero film. Even at their worst, the X-Men movies have moments of merits, from the credit sequence and Liev Schreiber’s performance as Sabretooth in “Origins”. As a series, the X-Men has a devoted fanbase, and it would be against Fox’s interest to give up the rights to one of their most popular franchises.

Recently Youtube movie critic Bob “Moviebob” Chipman made a series videos complaining about the X-Men, saying that only X-Men: First Class and Deadpool are the only good ones. Yet his videos were filled in contradictions: he says in his video “The X-Men movies are not good” that the X-Men movies, along with the Ice Age and Alvin and the Chipmunks movies are Fox’s biggest cash cow, yet states in his X-Men: Apocalypse that Fox would make a deal with Marvel to share the X-Men rights. Moviebob also complains that the X-Men movies are dark and drag and disloyal to the comic-books and praises 1998’s Blade as the start of the modern superhero movie – ignore that the Blade movies disregarded most of its comic-book source. He also complained that the X-Men movies focused too much on Wolverine and Mystique at the expense of other characters, ignoring that ‘Days of Future Past’ was really Charles Xavier’s story, but a whole article could be written to counter Moviebob’s dubious points.

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Fox’s X-Men series has scored a major win over the MCU with its portrayal of Quicksilver. Evan Peters’ version of the character has won much more plaudits as the speedster, being a confident and fun presence and his running scenes in “Days of Future Past” and “Apocalypse” were highlights in those movies. Peters’ version of Quicksilver also has the added weight of being Magneto’s illegitimate son, even if the master of magnetism is unaware of this. Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s version in Avengers: Age of Ultron was decent, he was overshadowed by his on-screen sister, having to act as the more measured one in the duo.

One of the biggest draws of the X-Men film series is the society and the world it has created, being a great canvass to explore themes of race, prejudice, and discrimination. There are many avenues for social commentary – the comics were a metaphor for the Civil Rights Movement and had evolved into looking at LGBT themes for the movies, i.e. Bobby coming out to his parents and the cure for mutation in “The Last Stand.” It could change again to look at other race issues affecting America and the rest of the world – immigration and Islamophobia. It is a rich world for any filmmaker to work with. The prequel series shows how the X-Men movies have been able to incorporate real historical events into the series.
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The biggest problem that would face the X-Men joining the MCU is the huge plot-hole that could be raised. The MCU has established itself as a universe filled with men in power suits, people who have been mutated by scientific experiments gone wrong, robots and Gods from outer space are worshiped as heroes, so why would people who are born with super power be feared and have to fight for their rights? Why would mutants be seen as different to Spider-Man, Hulk, and Captain America?

Even in animation, the X-Men had little contact with other Marvel superheroes. In X-Men: The Animated Series the only appearances of other Marvel superheroes were Ms. Marvel who Rogue sucked her powers from – to the point she was placed in a coma, Wolverine teamed up Captain America during the Second World War and Spider-Man and War Machine made a cameo saving citizens while the Sun is getting sucked by M’Kraan Crystal. Wolverine and the X-Men had one episode where Wolverine is tasked by Nick Fury to stop the Hulk – an episode that was made as a sequel to the straight-to-DVD animated movie Hulk Vs. Wolverine and was a filler episode compared to the rest of the season where the X-Men have to stop Magneto and humanity going to war. X-Men: Evolution had even less contact with other Marvel characters – Captain America made a brief appearance in a World War Two flashback, and Nick Fury made a couple of appearances in his role as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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Other cartoons in Marvel’s roster also had little reference to the X-Men. The 1980s cartoon Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends featured Iceman as a main character and the X-Men and their villains did occasionally appear and the Spider-Man: The Animated Series in the X-Men did appear in a two part special where Spider-Man meets Charles Xavier to find a way to stop his accelerated mutation that was turning him into a half-man spider creature, but ends up teaming up with the mutants to stop a mad scientist who turns into a monster. Despite this adventure, there was no mention of mutants existing in the series until Storm appeared in the ‘Secret Wars’ episodes.

The X-Men did not appear in other Marvel cartoons in the 90s like Iron Man, Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk despite the fact that they appeared in each other’s shows as other Marvel characters like Thor and Daredevil. Wolverine didn’t even appear in The Incredible Hulk despite the fact that his first comic book appearance was fighting the green anger monster.

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For the X-Men to be introduced into MCU is either for the whole franchise to be rebooted which is highly unlikely considering how Marvel Studio has planned its future and how interconnected every character is. The other way would be making the mutant population small, being no more than a few thousand – this would explain why mutants are not on the public radar and some sort of big event that would justify humans to fears this new breed of humanity. However X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past already touched on mutants being underground and then being revealed to society and Captain America: Civil War showed a public and government backlash to unregulated superheroes. Introducing the X-Men into the MCU could lead to territory being retreated.

During promotion for the X-Men cast and crew have stated that would like to see the X-Men crossover with the MCU. Producer Lauren Shuler Donner stated this back in 2012 during an interview with CraveOnline, and Hugh Jackman had said he would be open to joining the MCU. These statements could be taken with a pinch of salt because of this is said partly to excite fans, partly to be diplomatic towards their rivals. Although it is unlikely that the current X-Men team would join the MCU let’s humor this idea – the only way possible is if the characters live in an alternative universe, and someone finds a way for either the MCU characters to enter into the X-Men world or vice versa. This scenario would be more likely to come from the MCU because of the extraordinary technology and magic devices in that world – while in the X-Men series, any outlandish form of sci-fi like time travel is explained, with mutant powers. The X-Men series has been Earth-bound, and it would be difficult to justify a crossover. However, Bryan Singer has stated that he would like to see the X-Men have a space adventure.

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Marvel also have another property that is similar to X-Men, The Inhumans. The Inhumans are a breed of humans that were experimented on by the Kree alien race, giving them superpowers. The aim of the Kree was to see if they can speed up their own evolution and make a race of super-soldiers. However the experiments were abandoned and the Inhumans formed their own civilization and have only recently been discovered. The Inhumans were set to have their own movie, originally scheduled for a 2019 release, but has currently been shelved. They have appeared in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D so have been established in the MCU. When their existence is revealed to humanity they could be justified in fearing a race of advance superhumans that are right on their doorstep. It would be similar to the idea as one suggested involving mutants suddenly being revealed to humanity.

It would be exciting to see the X-Men battle villains like Loki and Thanos and see Wolverine and Captain America team up to fight the Red Skull. It would also be a fantastic prospect to see MCU characters battle X-Men characters – just imagine the Hulk fighting Juggernaut or the Avengers face off against Magneto. However the only realistic way to see the X-Men and the rest of the Marvel characters in the same cinematic universe is if both franchises are rebooted at the same time, which is highly unlikely. At the moment the X-Men and the rest of the MCU are stronger apart rather than together.

Kieran Freemantle
Kieran Freemantle
I am a film critic/writer based in the UK, writing for Entertainment Fuse, Rock n Reel Reviews, UK Film Review and Meniscus Sunrise. I have worked on film shoots. I support West Ham and Bath Rugby. Follow me on Twitter @FreemantleUK.