It's a pretty good time to be an X-Men fan. "X-Men: Days of Future Past" has hit theaters and received positive reviews, an ecstatic reaction from fans, and has already earned a considerable amount of money during its short time in theaters. With this film, it finally feels like Fox's main chunk of the Marvel Universe is back on track following a colossal derailing in the mid-to-late 2000s. We may just be able to trust the studio with the mutants again, after all.
But what if Marvel Studios got hold of the X-Men again? Don't we all kinda want to see the X-Men fully integrated into the Marvel Universe on the big screen? We want to see Wolverine and Captain America fight Nazis in World War II. We want to see Rogue, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch all have their origins told with getting amended due to movie rights, and we all want to see Beast become a card-carrying movie Avenger. While the odds of that happening seem even slimmer than Scott Summers, it doesn't hurt to daydream. What would Marvel Studios do with the X-Men?
Any X-Men film that hypothetical Marvel Studios makes after acquiring the characters' film rights will have to be an origin story -- and not just an X-Men origin story, but a mutant origin story. Looking at the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's incredibly obvious that mutants don't exist. Every super powered person is either a scientific mishap or a being from another realm. No one just has powers in the MCU. How the X-Men could get introduced into the Marvel movie-verse could hinge upon how Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch -- two prominent mutants from the comics -- get their powers explained in "Avengers: Age of Ultron." Judging by "Captain America: The Winter Soldier's" post-credits scene, it appears as if the twins received their powers via experiments conducted on them by Baron Von Strucker using Loki's scepter.
"Marvel's X-Men" would have to depict the big debut of the mutant race, when a sizeable portion of the teenage population has developed powers. Older mutants would still exist -- like Professor X, Magneto, Wolverine and Apocalypse -- but in numbers nowhere close to the current generation coming into their own. Proof that mutants exist would come into existence based on the actions of the newly assembled X-Men team, just like it did in 1963's "X-Men" #1 and 2011's "X-Men: First Class."
So far, Marvel's only given two example teams to use in our quest to figure out how hypothetical Marvel Studios would handle this group. With the Avengers, Marvel went fairly classic with the lineup. All six heroes included in "Marvel's the Avengers" (Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow) and the trio debuting in "Age of Ultron" (Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Vision) joined the team within their first decade of publication. On the other hand, Marvel's taken an entirely different approach with "Guardians of the Galaxy." Instead of bringing the original iteration of the team to life, they opted instead for the modern day cult classic team -- sorry, Charlie-27 fans. So it looks like Marvel's up for taking both the classic and the fan favorite routes when it comes to heroes.
Luckily for the X-Men, their classic and fan favorite lineup heavily overlaps. Marvel could build a movie around the Chris Claremont/Dave Cockrum/John Byrne team -- Cyclops, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Wolverine. This lineup would work because of those five characters, Wolverine is the only that Fox has spent any real time with. Nightcrawler appeared in only one film, Colossus is merely a walking special effect and Cyclops spent the majority of his time in the original trilogy either captured or dead. This lineup would allow for Marvel to use popular characters without having to really compete against Fox's films.
Looking at the size of the movie Avengers team, there's still space for a few more members. Jean Grey, perhaps operating under the Marvel Girl codename, would be a welcome addition, just so long as the film gets the character out from Famke Janssen's shadow. They could also throw Dazzler into the mix, as she's a favorite character that Fox never attempted. Her status as a mutant pop star could also allow for some inventive casting on Marvel's part.
First off, no one wants to see yet another film with William Stryker in it. Magneto and the Sentinels are two of the best introductory villains to the X-Mythos, but hypothetical Marvel Studios would most likely consider them off the table at first due to the former's ubiquity and the latter's very recent big screen hello. Instead, "Marvel's X-Men" could follow in Fox's footsteps and pit the team against the Brotherhood (of Evil Mutants) in their debut film.
Instead of Magneto's hodgepodge assortment of henchmen seen in 2000's "X-Men," Marvel would wisely adhere to another classic lineup comprised of characters Fox either ignored or mishandled: Mystique, Destiny, Pyro, Avalanche, Blob, and Rogue. Mystique's found herself near the center of five of Fox's films, but a stricter adherence to the source material would make Marvel's Mystique very different from Fox's. This Mystique would be much more ruthless and could wear a white costume, abandoning Fox's iconic no-clothes look. It would also make sense for the film to utilize her dual identity as Pentagon employee Raven Darkholme, assistant to the Secretary of Defense.
The rest of this team makes the Brotherhood different enough to not draw too many comparisons to what's come before while still being familiar to fans of the comics and various cartoons. Avalanche and Destiny were never used by Fox, and presenting Pyro as an adult Australian would make people forget Aaron Stanford. Also, the less said about Blob's inclusion in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," the better. Lastly, Rogue would make sense as a member of the Brotherhood; she'd be quite similar to the version of the character Anna Paquin played, but manipulated by her mothers, Mystique and Destiny, into operating on the other side of the law.
Unlike other movie studios churning out super hero films, Marvel's mixes pride in the source material with the right amount of realism. They make films that unashamedly feel like comic book romps, but still tackle complex human emotion and character development. "Marvel's X-Men" would face bigotry and persecution head-on, much like Fox's "X-Men" and "X2" did. Unlike those two films, however, "Marvel's X-Men" wouldn't be afraid to have a little fun. Nightcrawler would laugh just a little bit more than he broods and Colossus and Wolverine would bust out the Fastball Special -- and they'd call it that, too.
Most importantly, as "Avengers" showed us, these X-Men would wear individualized uniforms reminiscent of their comic book counterparts. Yes, Wolverine would finally wear a mask. Marvel's figured out a way to extract the essence of a character's colorful comic costume and inject it into a real world uniform. Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor all sport looks that would look right at home on the printed page, and radical design departures favoring realism are few and far between (Hawkeye, Falcon).
Marvel's post-credits scenes tend to tie the preceding film into the larger MCU tapestry; "Thor: The Dark World's" took us to the "Guardians of the Galaxy" universe, and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier's" introduced major "Age of Ultron" players. That's why the post-credits scene would be the perfect place to tie "Marvel's X-Men" to "Marvel's the Avengers." Perhaps a scene of Captain Marvel getting attacked by a terrified Rogue, draining her of her powers (sidenote: have no fear, Carol Corps, hypothetical Marvel Studios would figure out a way to keep both characters in play)? Maybe a scene of the Avengers taking on a new member named Hank McCoy? Or the two teams could be united by a common foe, like a tease of Magneto as he arrives to recruit his children, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, from the Avengers?
All this speculation does highlight the fact that there are a lot more storytelling options available for the X-Men if they were to be given a fresh start in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even the missteps that "X-Men: Days of Future Past" didn't erase would fall away should the rights ever exchange hands, and filmmakers would get to play with all of the material that connects the mutants to Marvel's heroes. Fortunately for viewers, the reality of Fox's X-Franchise post-"Days of Future Past" seems just about as bright as this article's proposed movie. Fox's flagship franchise appears to have righted itself, and fans can rest assured that the mutants just might be in hands just as capable as Marvel Studios'.
But still, it would be great to see Beast as an Avenger.