You may or may not know that Dark Phoenix is supposed to be the epic conclusion to a cinematic universe of superheroes that’s been around nearly twice as long as Avengers. Don’t worry, you don’t live under a rock. Disney/Marvel recently acquired 20th Century Fox, the studio with exclusive rights to X-Men and Fantastic Four movies. That means the grand finale to the current X-Men franchise isn’t allowed to mention X-Men very much in its marketing. It’s perhaps Marvel’s final flex in their casually brutal campaign to regain control of X-Men film rights that seemingly began way back in 2015, when they put X-Men merchandising and “Fantastic Four” comics on hold, indefinitely. Except, this particular instance of corporate dickbaggery led to characters we love back in the hands of a studio who make much better movies about them, so yay! Right?
Not yay. So far from yay.
Marvel is actually pretty blasé about getting X-Men back. But I don’t believe them. Whenever Kevin Feige is asked about introducing Charles Xavier’s school of mutant superheroes into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), he gives some coy answer like “No X-Men movies coming anytime soon.” Okay, that probably doesn’t sound “coy” in the traditional sense. Maybe it sounds “really, really clear” or whatever…
Still! Just because we won’t see standalone X-Men movies anytime soon, it’s hard to believe individual X-Men characters won’t pop up in the MCU. The X-Men film series is nothing like Avengers. People don’t go to see the team. The series survived for 19 years thanks to a handful of fan-favorite characters. It’s kind of obvious which two Marvel really want. Every headline that announced “Marvel gets X-Men back” could have easily read “Marvel gets Wolverine and Deadpool back.”
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the MCU’s future after Avengers: Endgame but was too exhausted to speculate what’s next for X-Men. Thankfully, it’s almost impossible not to express any and all negative thoughts when you have a platform on the internet, so here I am! I’m not going to try to figure out exactly how the MCU will introduce X-Men characters. No, I’m just here to beg Marvel to not make a big deal about them. There’s no version of reality where Marvel doesn’t try to cash in on Wolverine and Deadpool. It’s not possible. I’ve resigned myself to that fact. I’m still worried Marvel will take it a step further and make mutants a centerpiece in the MCU going forward. No standalone X-Men movies, sure, but a heavy presence. Please don’t do that, Marvel.
Have no doubt that Wolverine will get a big supporting role in an MCU flick sooner than later. Marvel, just please don’t give us a Spider-Man movie that co-stars Iceman and dives into the subculture of mutants or something dumb like that. Here’s a Shyamalan twist for you: I grew up on “X-Men” comics, and “Wolverine MAX” singlehandedly turned the character into one of my favorites. Well, at least, his comic book version. Film versions of these characters just don’t work for me because they’re either too tame to tackle the social commentary of X-Men with any real bite, or so self-serious that Wolverine cries his way through what should be a fun gorefest—not to name names. Folks assume the MCU will get these characters right, but I really do believe they might expose limits of the MCU’s storytelling.
Marvel, you can have your shiny claw guy and the antihero from Van Wilder but please consider axing the X-Men.