With the still ongoing discussions surrounding the Disney/Fox buyout this December I figured it would be appropriate to discuss a very specific matter that has people on two different fences. Should the X-Men continue on as they are or reboot to fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Some have argued that it most definitely is in need of a reboot after the middling results of X-Men Apocalypse while others have strongly stated that it would be a mistake. Of course, I in all honesty tend to fall on the side of the audience which tends to support and like most of these films for a myriad of reasons which I will explore in this piece. Matter of factly, I do prefer these films over the likes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it’s ever-expanding line of films.
Let me better explain myself now. These X-Men films are what got me into comics, particularly Marvel stories like God Loves Man Kills, Days of Future Past, and Giant Size X-Men. They are the heroes I grew up with and wanted to be like because I could relate to some of their struggles of being an outcast by the majority of people and as a nerd who loves comics before it was popular to be an open fan or reader of them. There’s just too much iconography that exists which has created a long lasting vested interest. All the work put towards building this franchise by people like Bryan Singer, Matthew Vaughn, James Mangold, Tim Miller and others will have been all for naught. From Jackman’s Wolverine to the famous John Ottman theme that’s been used in most of the films since X-2: X-Men United. It’s always been a delight to sit back and watch them because of all of the established stuff that we know fans generally already like and generally rake in a profit and critical acclaim, bar X-Men The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine which in all honesty were the only rotten apples in the bunch. The franchise has generally made up for it with the other films.
Here’s the other thing about this franchise that I think people are admittedly taking for granted amidst all of the hype coming as a result of the merger. This franchise was breaking ground long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was ever around and frankly has been thriving since the year 2000, which would make it the second longest running series next to Mission: Impossible. It also was the first to make true blue genre appropriations for a lot of it’s films compared to most other comic book movie franchises that claim to do so but really aren’t. Logan really did feel like a dark western in the same vein as Unforgiven. First Class was a 1960’s spy thriller which came out before the MCU really even kicked off. Deadpool was a superhero romantic comedy. The New Mutants is looking like an incredible haunted house horror movie in the same vein as something like The Conjuring. X-Men Origins: Wolverine for all of it’s faults was black ops-esque outing reminiscent of the Jason Bourne series for everyone’s favorite feral Canadian. To throw all of this out to fit into recent continuity would just be a disservice to the fans of this franchise and to fans of the X-Men as a whole.
It’s clear that the MCU does not need the X-Men and the X-Men will never need the MCU. They’ve thrived since 2000 and can continue to do so without being included in a larger universe like that of the MCU. Yes, it would be great to see Wolverine fight alongside Captain America and I’d be lying if I didn’t think I’d be happy to see that. However, given how both franchises have been set up I think it’s best that we all put aside our lust for fan service aside and think about what works and is best for both franchises and it’s marvelous (pun intended) roster of characters.
Narratively speaking there would be impossible challenges when it comes to even attempting to integrate the X-Men into the MCU. The X-Gene as a whole is something that has been around for a long time in the comics which largely means that the mutants have too. Where would they have all been this whole time in a universe that has in large part put it’s best efforts to sell the audience on the Inhumans since Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and in the Inhumans series as “discount” X-Men? I sincerely doubt someone like Magneto who is known for his theatrics and hatred of humanity would just sit tight and hide in the shadows for decades waiting for his moment to strike? It would be a lot easier to integrate the Fantastic Four into the Marvel Cinematic Universe for obvious reasons, but the X-Men are certainly a no-go for this reason alone.
On a financial front, this franchise as it stands right now is still highly profitable. To date, the X-Men franchise has made $4 billion dollars worldwide, which is a considerably small amount compared to the MCU’s $13 billion but that is still a sizable amount of money that Disney should take advantage of. Therefore, merging the X-Men into an already existing set of films would be an actual loss on money if Disney just chose to wipe that slate clean for the sake of the MCU. To add even more context, Deadpool was a “sleeper hit” that nobody expected to make as much as it did due to it’s R-rating. It was a film that was nearing $800 million despite not making a debut in China, which is a critical country that generates the most money globally for any movie and it is why marketing is heavily carried out there. The studio certainly turned a profit and this was on a spin-off project that they did not fully invest all of their faith in a post-X-Men Origins: Wolverine world. This would soon be followed by this year’s Logan, which cleared $620 million global which also had an R-rating attached to it. You could definitely say that this franchise is a lot like the mutants that are featured in it. They evolve and can really only ever get better and stronger. The goodwill generating from those films is definitely going to prove beneficial for The New Mutants, Channing Tatum’s Gambit, and X-Force once we start to see and hear more about those films respectively.
As for the team productions like X-Men: Dark Phoenix, it’s uncertain where that could lead with an untested director in Simon Kinberg. One thing is for certain though to me. By the time this deal does kick into effect I think that the Fox X-Men franchise will reach it’s second highest point since X-2: X-Men United with shows like Legion and The Gifted and the clear diversity that we’re seeing with the roster of films in the franchise. With all of this in mind I would hope that Kevin Feige reconsiders his potential plans for rounding up his own Extraordinary X-Men even if it would be an understandable undertaking to show that these properties are under new management. It would be a much wiser approach if they actually work towards embracing what material is already there to further the agenda and objectives of the current franchise which includes continuing with a lot of the planned projects and beyond versus putting it out to pasture and killing it from both a creative, critical, financial, and consumer viewpoint.
What do you think of these thoughts? Where do you side in the argument? Let us know in the comments section below!