OPINION: How Not To Screw Up The X-Men Again
SPOILER WARNING: THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS FOR THE MARVELS
Ever since Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, fans have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of both the Fantastic Four and the X-Men. Now, the Fantastic Four has been teased by the studio for quite some time; however, the casting process has been a rollercoaster of emotions and the film is still nowhere near complete. While mutants finally got their first official shout-out in the MCU last year in Ms. Marvel, and Professor X played a decent role in the last Doctor Strange film, it wasn’t until this weekend that fans got their first major taste of what’s to come.
Before I continue, I just want to warn readers that the rest of this article contains minor spoilers for the latest Marvel Studios film, The Marvels. You have been warned.
In the film’s climax, Monica Rambeaux sacrifices herself to close a giant hole in space/time created by the film’s antagonist. While it initially looks like she dies, in the film’s mid-credit scene it’s revealed that she’s actually alive and saved by another reality’s version of the X-Men. Although we don’t get to see another version of Charles Xavier, the character is name dropped by Hank McCoy a.k.a Beast. Emmy winner Kelsey Grammer reprises his role from 20th Century’s previous films with a more CGI-generated look. By the end of the scene, it’s teased that Monica is going to have explain herself to the X-Men, thus implying that they are about to be introduced to the idea of the multiverse themselves.
With this scene, it becomes clear that the wait for the X-Men is seemingly over. But is it possible to finally do them justice again? With this article, I wanted to discuss what Marvel should do different this time around and what can be learned from 20th Century’s previous failures.
Now, next year Hugh Jackman will once again be returning to the role Wolverine in Deadpool 3. While that is exciting, it does bring up the first point I wanted to make which is that I hope there’s a greater emphasis on the X-Men as an actual team. Wolverine is a great character, but he largely overshadowed everyone else in all of the original films. Even in X-Men: Apocalypse, where he had a 30-second cameo, he outshined everyone and everything else happening. In the comics Cyclops is the actual leader of the team, but in the films all he ever did was get pushed to the background. The studio cared so little about his character that even his death in The Last Stand was offscreen, and audiences did not seem to care.
The X-Men has such a rich catalogue of characters. From Rogue to Iceman and Gambit, Nightcrawler and so on. While those characters have all had live-action counterparts, none were fully fleshed out. They all deserve to have their time to shine. This goes for villains as well, Magneto is without a doubt one of Marvel’s greatest villains, but his character and his relationship with Professor X was already explored thoroughly in the Fox series. I don’t think we need to put that much emphasis on it again.
Speaking of villains, this is the major one that I think everyone will agree on: stay away from “The Phoenix Saga.” At least for a while. I really don’t think we need to see Jean Grey become Dark Phoenix again. Yes, it’s a great story from the comics, but it’s already been done twice now and it was butchered both times. There’s plenty of other, richer stories you can choose from. Let us spend some more time with the Sentinels or introduce us to Mister Sinister!
Those are the main things that I feel the MCU should stay clear of if it’s going to find new success this time around. That’s not to say that these aren’t important pieces of the X-Men mythos. It’s just that if the studio wants to let the new iteration stand on its own, it shouldn’t rely on characters or plot points fans are already familiar with. Sure, bringing back Kelsey Grammer as Beast cheats a little, but the way it’s done leaves a large enough margin for fans to know that they are in store for something different.
What I’d like to see in the next “class” of X-Men is an emphasis on characters and stories that were totally ignored or aren’t event considered mainstream from the comic book series. Marvel kind of did it that way with Spider-Man. We didn’t need to see Uncle Ben get shot again. That made Marisa Tomei uttering the line about “great responsibility” all the more impactful. And as badly as we wanted Tobey Maguire to face off with Green Goblin again in No Way Home, the build up to their eventual confrontation felt way more impactful.
Imagine an X-Men movie without Charles or Erik. Imagine a more coming-of-age story that focused on the students harnessing their powers. Imagine a story involving mutants, but against the backdrop of a different genre altogether…
While I’m aware that I just pretty much described The New Mutants, it’s possible for those story elements to be recycled to create something better. At the end of the day, that is what a molecular mutation is after all: a small change to familiar genes. Or in this case, Jeans.
What characters or stories would you like to see the MCU adapt in their X-Men movie(s)? Sound off below!