Thursday was quite the eventful day for a variety of reasons. For one, the FCC and Ajit Pai have finally achieved their dream of killing Net Neutrality, completely disregarding consumer well-being for the sake of filling the already full pockets of a handful of individuals. As you can tell, I’m pissed, but we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about the good things that happened that day, like Disney buying 20th Century Fox for the low, low price of $56 billion.
It’s been the topic on everyone’s mind for the past month, but it’s finally time for me to talk about it. Through Disney’s purchase of most of Fox’s assets, Disney has gone from the top movie studio on the market to… well, the top movie studio on the market by an even bigger margin. This deal has massive reach and a lot of properties are now under the Disney banner, such as Avatar, Planet of the Apes, The Simpsons, X-Files, Predator, and Family Guy. Most of all, Marvel Studios now has access to the final 3 properties outside Disney’s reach: X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Deadpool.Do I even need to explain how big of a deal that is? The possibilities are endless now that Marvel is whole again. I’m talking a showdown between Wolverine and the Hulk, Mr. Fantastic shooting the shit with Tony Stark, the Guardians of the Galaxy bumping into the Silver Surfer, and Deadpool finally being united with his soul brother, Spider-Man. All of these and more are now possible on the big screen; no longer a matter of if, but when and (more interestingly) how.
I already talked a few months ago about some of the ways I would bring these Fox characters into the MCU. Feel free to check them out in the links above if you’re interested. However, while I had a pretty good idea that Marvel would want to reboot the Fantastic Four and keep Deadpool the same, there was a lingering question about how Marvel would approach the X-Men. Would they want to merge the existing X-Men cannon, utilizing more or less the same continuity and cast? Or would they seek to reboot it as they already did with Spider-Man?
To answer that question, let’s consider the pros and cons of each idea before predicting which road Disney will ultimately take. This will be a two part post where I’ll go through each option individually, starting with my preferred method.
In my original post, I mentioned that I favor the prospect of merging the existing X-Men canon with that of the Avengers. For the most part I still prefer that option for a few reasons, the foremost of those being that it still works.
Say what you will about Apocalypse being disappointing and Dark Phoenix sounding like it won’t work, but the X-Men series is a proven success. One with a few hiccups and a somewhat convoluted continuity (more on that later), but a success nonetheless. There’s a dedicated fanbase for those films who love the series so much that they were even against giving Marvel access to these characters in the first place. Not just against Disney buying Fox wholesale, which is understandable, but even against a Sony-type deal. Hell, I even suggested it in an online conversation once only to get a reply back from someone saying they’d swear off all comic book movies if Marvel got those properties back. That’s the level of dedication we’re talking about here.
I don’t blame the skeptics and critics of this either. To just throw away the series that includes the first two X-Men films, First Class, Days of Future Past, and Logan seems like a waste of an already established base. Not to mention that said base includes talent such as James MacAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence as mainstays. The current portrayals are actually lauded so much that to just recast may betray a decent number of the X-Men movie fanbase. Nevermind the fact that in the off-chance that Hugh Jackman were to change his mind on appearing as Wolverine, he couldn’t after a reboot… Actually he could, but we’ll get to that in the next part.
Plus, it’s not like crossing the two franchises over is as hard as some make it out to be. Two words: alternate dimensions. The Avengers never heard of mutants because they’re not all that common in the MCU, and the X-Men never heard of the Avengers or Infinity Stones because there’s no such thing in the X-Men cannon. What could bring these two dimensions together, you may ask? You could use the Infinity Gauntlet, the Quantum Realm, Doctor Strange’s magic, or even the Dark Phoenix’s universe hopping ability. And if the idea of two separate dimensions becomes too cumbersome, you can find a way to merge the canons together through some major cosmic event.
This would be the perfect compromise, because it allows the X-Men series to continue as is, brings mutants into the MCU, and even adds the first two X-Men films and the First Class trilogy into essential MCU viewing. Everyone gets what they want.
Unfortunately there are quite a number of downsides. As I already said, the X-Men continuity isn’t exactly straightforward. Some would even call it a convoluted mess. In contrast, the MCU has had like one continuity error so far with Spider-Man: Homecoming, and it can easily be dismissed as a typo. I doubt Kevin Feige is eager to expose the series he’s worked so hard to build up become blemished by questions like “So if Mystique joined the team in Apocalypse, why is she a villain in the first X-Men?” or “Is Logan canon or is that a whole other continuity?”. And God help the person who would have to explain the two Quicksilvers thing or how the First Class cast set in the 20th century can appear in a 21st century MCU.
Another issue with bringing the X-Men in multiverse style is the complications of having mutants appear in MCU films down the road. Say you want Nightcrawler to appear in a Spider-Man film. How did he get there? Did mutants just switch dimensions altogether when the universes meet, or is there a portal they can go through which would leave both dimensions easily exploited? Which characters make sense to be in which universe? This just opens a can of worms that may be too troublesome to deal with.
And say the universes do collide at some point. What do you keep from the X-Men series and what do you keep from the MCU? What characters, events, and locations remain canon and which ones fall by the wayside? What versions of the X-Men characters — like Mystique, Dark Phoenix, Beast, and Storm — do you carry over? Could this very event potentially screw up the continuity of the MCU in the process?
Granted, these could very well be problems I’m not clever enough to solve. (You see, boys and girls, I is purdy dumb). I’ll admit that. In my estimation, where there’s a will there’s a way. It all simply depends on how much Disney and Marvel are willing to risk alienating a certain audience and throwing out half of the awesomeness with the bathwater. There are good ways to implement multiverse stories, and I do trust Marvel to find a way to accomplish that if they choose to. The question is if the challenge of working around continuity issues is worth accepting compared to option B.
To find out my thoughts on the prospect of a Disney reboot of X-Men, join me next time when I’ll be discussing the reverse side of the coin and deciding once and for all which road Disney and Marvel will end up taking. Let me know in the comments below if you think Disney will choose to continue the X-Men series or not!
I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!