6 Things I Want to See in the Inevitable MCU X-Men Reboot
The seemingly impossible has happened and Marvel Studios has acquired the movie-making rights to the X-Men from Fox. Dark Phoenix came out two weeks ago to thundering boos, signaling the end of nearly 20 years of X-Men movies as we know them. Now, in a few short years, Marvel Studios will try their hand at rebooting the X-Men into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
I am perfectly fine with this.
I have gone on record several times stating that I did not want the X-Men to join the MCU. We didn’t need them. The Avengers were doing just fine on their own! But Endgame has come and gone and Marvel is going to need new and exciting properties, so I can live with bringing the X-Men on board. I even had a couple ideas for how Marvel could make it happen organically. Also, fair warning, this whole list turned into a lot of very specific ways I would write the X-Men movie myself…sorry about that. I got a little carried away.
Anyway, in the shadow of Dark Phoenix, here are six things I want to see in Marvel Studios’ eventual MCU version of the X-Men! It worked for Spider-Man, after all!
Honorable Mention: No more Dark Phoenix Saga
Marvel needs to never attempt the Dark Phoenix Saga. Fox has tried twice now and failed both times. I know it’s regarded as the greatest X-Men story of all time, but it has little to nothing to do with the actual meaningful themes of the X-Men. It’s beloved because it’s this awesome space opera. I never read the original comics and was only introduced to the Dark Phoenix Saga through the 90s cartoon. It’s fine. But if you can’t go full cosmic space opera, why bother? Jean Grey is not that interesting or important a character. And the last thing the X-Men movies need to do is go into space. They’re a grounded, real-world analogue story with realistic and relatable characters.
Look, Marvel could probably make it work. The MCU has a robust cosmic side. But still, they shouldn’t attempt this. Fox has tried twice. It’s out there. It’s been done. There are decades of other X-Men stories to draw from, let alone doing something totally new.
6. Make it a metaphor for coming out
It’s 2019, make the movie about coming out of the closet as a queer person. Remember that brief scene in X2: X-Men United when Iceman had to come out to his parents as a mutant? Everybody loved that scene! And as horrible as Bryan Singer turned out to be, he still struck gold using mutants as a metaphor for homosexuality. But movies couldn’t do much with that in the early 2000s. Marvel could do so much more in the early 2020s! They should definitely go for it! Of course, this is coming from the guy who unabashedly wants Disney to make Elsa gay, but still, this needs to happen with the X-Men.
In my organic introduction of mutants into the MCU, I would have them be a well-kept secret. Professor X is a very, very powerful telepath. Just say that mutant numbers haven’t been that crazy, and Xavier travels the world bringing mutant to his safe haven school. He’s not above erasing people’s minds Men in Black-style. And there are no X-Men. Nobody is dressing up in costume and going off to play Avengers. It’s just a secret school/commune hidden in Westchester.
So, essentially, mutants are in the closet. And the movie can be the story of how mutants, through the X-Men, come out of the closet. Simple as that. It won’t be pretty, it won’t go exactly how they wish it could have gone. They’ll be scared. But in the end it will be good for everyone.
5. Villain: Magneto and the Brotherhood
Look, there’s no good way around this: Magneto is arguably the best super-villain in all of comics, and clearly the best antagonist to the X-Men. Nobody else comes close. What’s Marvel going to do? Make Mojo the villain? Make a fleet of Sentinels the villain? Start things off with the Brood? Nah. Magneto and the Brotherhood, a whole crew of jerk mutants for the good mutants of the X-Men to fight. Put Magneto in the lead and maybe get bigger and better with him. Really let Magneto cut loose and use his powers like a god. I don’t think movie Magneto ever got to do that.
As for the Brotherhood membership, I say you don’t fix what hasn’t been broken. I’m an old-school Brotherhood fan, so give us the classics like Blob, Toad, Pyro, maybe Avalanche. Leave out Mystique and Sabretooth, but throw in some wild cards like Lady Mastermind, Frenzy, Random, Unus the Untouchable maybe.
And if you really want to seed future stories, perhaps have a classic X-Men member be a villain so that we can tell a villain redemption story over the course of the franchise, with this character switching sides either at the end of the film or in the next one. Maybe Rictor or Warpath or Gambit or Psylocke. Rogue would be a good choice, but I have other plans for her.
One of the best things the X-Men have going for them that other Marvel superheroes don’t is the school for mutants, and the Marvel movies should lean into that heavily. The Fox films already did, but that shouldn’t scare Marvel away. The X-Men should be a school first and a team of superheroes second. As I mentioned before, I think the first movie should be the origin/coming out story of them as a superhero team. It should be a foreign idea to them, not something they’d ever considered. And instead, it should be all about this hidden, secret school/commune where mutants can come to learn about their powers and how to control them, with teachers and fellow students and just general visitors and guests. And then when Magneto starts to make his move, those teachers and students head out to stop him, in a “we police our own” sort of way. But first and foremost, the school should be front and center for the X-Men franchise.
Also, this would lead to so many cameos! There were always plenty in the original films, and we’d just do that over again! Multiple Man, Strong Guy, Banshee, Goldballs, Bling!, Eye-Boy, Nature Girl, Stacy X; whoever we want. Plan out far in advance what characters you want to use in future films and either seed them into the first movie or pick a couple of unimportant characters who can cameo. Whatever you do, don’t create movie-original mutants to fill out beefy supporting roles. That’s just stupid.
Double also, Professor X will be the headmaster of the school, but he won’t be a major character. He’s done a lot for mutants over the years, including setting up this school, but he’s older now and ceding more control to his faculty. No new crazy Cerebro. No putting him front and center. This is a movie about the X-Men.
3. My ideal team roster
The fun of any X-Men property is picking the roster. Who is going to be the core crew, the stars of the film? Believe me, I have plenty of ideas, but one quick caveat: we need to avoid any of the major Fox characters. They used Mystique very heavily, so she’s out. Beast and Quicksilver were major players in the past few films, so they’re not going to come back (Quicksilver for obvious MCU reasons). The new films should downplay the rivalry between Xavier and Magneto rather than recreate what James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender have been doing. Neither Wolverine or Professor X would be the main character, but both would be in the film.
With that out of the way, let’s dig into the core team I want to see. I will warn you, it’s not crazy.
- Cyclops: He’s crucial and too perfect as team leader. He’s tough but fair, a steady hand at the helm. He got a raw deal in the Fox movies and Marvel will know what to do with him. Cyclops is an iconic X-Man and should do well with Marvel. He’s a teacher at the school.
- Wolverine: You can’t not have Wolverine, I’m willing to admit that. I’m just not going to make Wolverine the main character. Use Wolverine how he was used originally: the gruff, rebellious team member always needling the team leader. He’ll be the very definition of cool, but he’ll be only a supporting character on the team. We’ll take a less is more approach to Wolverine. He’s mostly just a visitor/hanger-on at the school, but does teach a couple fun classes like ‘automobile repair’.
- Storm: A prominent woman of color comic book character? Hells yes, we’re going to use Storm as much as possible. I’d even go so far as to say Storm should be so prominent that crossovers with Black Panther wouldn’t be out of the question. As silly and as forced as their marriage was in the comics, the movies are fresh ground and I’d be more than happy to link those two characters. In the X-Men franchise, she’d be a great mentor figure and front lines fighter. She’ll start as a teacher at the school.
- Nightcrawler: Kurt Wagner is too fun and unique a character not to use in the core team. Here’s a mutant that looks weird, but can still be smokin’ hot. The existing X-Men movies have used him, but not enough to wear out his welcome; just enough to make audiences somewhat familiar with him. That’s perfect. He’s a junior teacher at the school.
- Jubilee: She is a very underrated character. Jubilee is young and hip and adds an Asian character to the core crew. Diversity is important. She’s also got a really cinema-friendly power. People mock Jubilee for having a weak power, but are you kidding me? She blasts fireworks at people! That’s great! She’s an older student at the school, almost a liaison between the staff and students.
- Rogue: I am not married to the comic book storyline of Rogue absorbing Captain Marvel’s powers. I realize that is key to her character in the comics, with the flight and the strength, but a Rogue without those powers is pretty darn cool as well, as we saw in both the original X-Men movies and the Ultimate X-Men comics. She could be a quieter, more goth-like character with her soul/power sucking abilities that need to be kept under wraps. And she’d be a solid contrast to the bright and cheerful Jubilee. She’s another visitor/hanger-on at the school. Perhaps a student once, but not someone who wanted to go into teaching, but also not ready to leave behind Xavier’s guidance in her powers.
Allow me to lay it out for you even more: so you’ve got Cyclops as the tried and true team leader, the mentor figure to the whole team. If Jean Grey is in the movie (and that’s not a guarantee), she’s got a supporting role as either a teacher or perhaps she’s out in the private sector doing good things for mutants in secret. Either way, she’s not directly on the team to create a rivalry between Cyclops and Wolverine. Perhaps that existed once upon a time, but here we’ll be at the begrudging respect between Cyclops and Wolverine. They’ve got each other’s back, especially once they get into the field, but Wolverine is not above disobeying orders and going by his gut, regardless of what Cyclops might want. Also, we gotta have that scene from Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men where Cyclops gets those Sentinels off his lawn.
Storm is the badass mom of the team, level-headed and highly respected, while not afraid to get a bit more down and dirty than Cyclops. She’s co-leader, concerned for everyone’s well being and ready to go full Omega should anyone be hurt. Storm is young and hip, and she, Wolverine and Nightcrawler are the best of pals. Nightcrawler is his fun and jovial self from the comics, none of the self-doubt from the movies. He has long since accepted and embraced his appearance. He’s a prankster and a goof, more than happy to be Wolverine’s sidekick whenever it’s time to be rebellious, but also very obedient to Cyclops overall.
Jubilee is a Nightcrawler-in-training. She’s fun, she’s sassy, she’s rebellious; she’s learning all the worst lessons from tagging along after Wolverine and Nightcrawler. Jubilee is as hip as they come, who genuinely opens her heart to all of her fellow classmates. She’s also the opposite of Rogue, a dark, quiet, brooding, possibly gothic character who remains afraid of her powers…despite constant encouragement from the others to help out and join in. But no, Rogue will not be the secret weapon to defeating Magneto. She’ll just be there to round out the team with someone unique and interesting.
And then one more character…
2. Iceman as lead character
Stories are often stronger with an audience surrogate character, and for my ideal X-Men movie, I choose Iceman. A gay, teenage Iceman is inducted into the school and joins the X-Men over the course of the adventure. This gives Marvel a new gay lead character (which they claim to want to do with Eternals, but we haven’t seen that materialize yet. I’m all in favor if they do). Also, Iceman is my favorite X-Man, so bonus points for me! He’s got cool powers that could really be big and cinematic with a Marvel Studios budget.
Iceman will be a brand new student at the school, an easy vehicle to introduce the audience to everything that’s going on. He’ll be regarded as a potentially powerful new mutant, but Xavier will try to keep that under wraps as he gets started in classes and makes friends and develops his first crush. Then, as part of the story, he’ll get wrapped up in the craziness when Magneto attacks and he’ll somehow wind up joining the teachers and older students in forming the X-Men, despite being a new student. Perhaps he’ll be the secret weapon to stop Magneto when young Bobby starts calling upon a level of power that no one else has been able to match.
1. Solo films and crossovers
I think everyone will agree with me that Fox definitely messed up their solo movie options. Wolverine was a solid choice for solo films, but X-Men Origins: Wolverine sucked, The Wolverine was less than impressive, and while people loved Logan, it had little to do with actual movie continuity. The “X-Men Origins” brand never became its own thing, and Deadpool is very far removed from the main batch (and is also the reason why Colossus is not in my core team).
But Marvel Studios can do it right. Maybe they can make those Gambit and Multiple Man solo movies happen. Maybe they can take some smaller characters and make them bigger with their own movies. The X-Men franchise is huge in its own right, and Marvel loves introducing characters in solo movies and then bringing them together in a bigger tent pole. I don’t think they can do that with the X-Men in general, but a Gambit solo film to introduce the character before he shows up in X-Men 2 would be fun.
And crossovers would be great as well! There’s a long history in the comics of X-Men joining the Avengers, and I’d love to see that. If Iceman is indeed a popular lead character, I don’t see why he couldn’t join whatever Young Avengers team is put together. Or Wolverine could join whatever New Avengers lineup is developed. And I’m sure everybody wants to see Avengers vs. The X-Men. These are all a possibility now and I definitely want to see them happen!
Hopefully I don’t have to wait until I’m an old man for this stuff to come true!