Earlier this year The Walt Disney Company made a multi-billion-dollar deal to acquire Twentieth Century Fox and all of their assets. This is a big deal in Hollywood and will almost certainly affect many of our favourite franchises, but chief among them for any discerning comic book movie fan are FOX's Marvel characters: the Fantastic Four and the X-Men. This article will be focusing on the latter of the two, and detailing (at length) exactly how I think these characters should be adapted into the MCU.
I remember there being some debate over this online when the deal was still in the works, and I kind of get it, but for the love of Stan Lee this needs to be a hard reboot. The FOX films are a hot mess, there's no two ways about it. They vary so widely in quality, their timeline is a shambles and rife with continuity errors (something the MCU has managed to keep relatively spotless), and most crucially: it's best features are gone. Two of the three shining jewels of great casting are no longer present. I'm speaking, of course, about Hugh Jackman's Wolverine and Patrick Stewart's Professor Xavier. The undeniable biggest draw of these films was Wolverine and, after Logan, Jackman (and Stewart) decided to hang up the claws (and the wheelchair), and, although they may be willing to return for something this big, it'd be a one off, and then Disney/Marvel would have to recast them anyway. So yeah, clean slate. ...except Deadpool. He can just cross right over, no harm done.
If there's one thing the FOX films always got wrong, it was the costumes. They've always shied away from the traditional bright yellow spandex, even going so far as to mock them in the first X-Men. The closest we've had were a few cruel teasers at the end of sub-par movies. Marvel, on the other hand, have always been good to us on this front. Time and time again we've seen characters ripped straight off the pages, no matter how ridiculous the costume, because Marvel understands that you should always respect the source material and that superheroes need colourful costumes. It's like if you went to see a Shakespeare play and everyone was dressed in modern-day street clothes. You wouldn't catch Macbeth rocking up in a pair of Vans and some skinny jeans, would you? The only exception to FOX's supersuit reluctance is, of course, Deadpool; but I have a feeling that's not because of them, and rather, in spite of them.
To Infinity, and Beyond
This year, FOX plan to do more damage to the famous and beloved Phoenix Saga story arc from the comics, with their latest film X-Men: Dark Phoenix. The trailer for said film raised the question: "So are they going to space this time, or what?"
For those of you who don't know, in the comics the Phoenix is this incredibly powerful cosmic entity that bonds with Jean Grey after she bravely sacrifices herself for her teammates. Also in the arc the X-Men meet this huge Space Empire called the Shi'ar, who force them into a trial by combat against purple Superman with a mohawk. I'm not making this stuff up.
Pretty exciting stuff, and the first movie adaptation of that is decidedly more...subdued. They threw all the space stuff out by saying Jean just had the Phoenix power locked within her, and it looks like this new film might be going the same way. It's a shame, because it's a great story that I'd like to see brought to the screen right, but Marvel tend to be unwilling to retread old ground (Spider-Man: Homecoming featured no villains from previous iterations, and no Uncle Ben). That being said, there are still lots of great X-Men stories that are still untouched, and a lot of them involve space or dinosaurs and other really out-there characters and settings that I don't think Marvel will be as apprehensive about tackling.
The X-Men, more than any other Marvel characters, stand up for and embody those who are marginalised or downtrodden in society. They are people who are born different from everyone else through no fault of their own and who are mistreated because of it. Professor X and Magneto have even been likened to Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X respectively because of their differing approaches to, ultimately, the same goal: a better standard of living for their people.
There's a great scene in the FOX X-Men films in which a character comes out to their parents about being a mutant, and it's written just like coming-out conversation. The parents don't understand, and say things like “Have you tried just not being a mutant?” It's one of the best moments of those films and went almost completely overlooked at the time.
Well, now, in this day and age, a scene like that would be so poignant and relevant to the Zeitgeist of current conversation; and Marvel being a company that is trying to position themselves at the forefront of diversity in pop culture, with films like Black Panther and the upcoming Captain Marvel, would be foolish to miss out by failing to include elements like:
The Morlocks - A group of Mutants whose mutations are too physically altering to be able to pass for “normal” humans, and so instead live in the sewers.
The Legacy Virus - A techno-organic virus that eventually renders the body incapable of creating healthy cells, ultimately resulting in death. It started out only affecting mutants but soon spread to non-mutant humans as well. The storyline was inspired by the AIDS Epidemic in the 1980s and the treatment of gay and bisexual men, African Americans, and Latinos during this time.
Queer Characters - Not only are the X-Men great metaphors for the gay community, but a lot of their members are actually part of it. Characters like Iceman, Mystique Northstar, Karma, Rictor, Bling, Shatterstar, Wolverine’s son, Daken, and even Wolverine himself have all been shown to have some interest in the same gender in one universe or another and could be great opportunities for representation.
The Mutants are, and always have been, an allegory for minorities and in the day and age of the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ Pride, and even Trump's Wall; I think we need our X-Men to be more political than ever.
Written by Kyle J / Mooscittles