The MCU’s X-Men lineup has the potential to redefine not only the X-Men franchise but the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. Almost four years after Disney acquired 21st Century Fox, Marvel Studios has yet to announce an X-Men project in the MCU – be it a movie or a TV show. The closest thing to an X-Men-related MCU project so far is X-Men ’97, which is being produced by Marvel Studios despite likely not being MCU canon, as well as Deadpool and Wolverine’s team-up in Deadpool 3. Still, it is safe to say that the X-Men will get a solo MCU project at some point.
One of the most exciting things about the MCU’s X-Men reboot is the possibility of exploring different X-Men lineups as well as of bringing mutants that the previous X-Men movie franchise never properly used. The “X-Men corner” of the Marvel universe has a plethora of characters that can lead the MCU for the next decade, which is why it would make sense to save the X-Men and other mutants for Phase 7. While the Fox X-Men franchise lasted for two decades, it only really focused on a handful of characters, which leaves room for the MCU to do something new with the X-Men.
The MCU Has To Nail Cyclops
Scott Summers has appeared in most of the Fox X-Men movies, including Wolverine’s first solo film, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That said, none of the X-Men movies ever nailed Cyclops as a character. In the comics, Cyclops is depicted as one of the best possible X-Men leaders, even though he often does not agree with Professor X. Cyclops should be to the X-Men what the MCU’s Steve Rogers was to the Avengers, which is something the X-Men movies never managed to do. Wolverine overshadowed Cyclops in the original X-Men trilogy to the point Scott had become a disposable character by the end of it.
The second Fox X-Men franchise, the one that began with X-Men: First Class and was in-universe rebooted with X-Men: Days of Future Past, had the chance to fix the franchise’s Cyclops problem. X-Men: Apocalypse saw Scott Summers joining the X-Men and the formation of a new team of mutants, a perfect setup for Cyclops to become the leader and main character he is in the comics. However, characters like Magneto and Mystique continued to be the focus of the X-Men movies, and Cyclops never got his moment in the spotlight. Therefore, a good MCU X-Men reboot starts with a solid, well-written Cyclops.
Storm’s Powers Can Finally Be Showcased
Halle Berry’s Storm was one of the main characters in the first X-Men trilogy. Ororo Munroe was the X-Men leader Cyclops never was in the X-Men films, especially after Professor X died in X-Men: The Last Stand, yet that was never translated into how powerful Storm could be. Granted, the visual effects from the early 2000s were obviously a lot more limited compared to recent Marvel blockbusters, but Storm’s powers in the X-Men movies could have been a lot more creative. Storm is an Omega-level mutant in the comics, meaning that her powers can even rival that of the MCU gods like Thor.
In the X-Men movies, however, Storm’s powers were limited to throwing lightning balls and levitating. Not even the second X-Men franchise, which featured Storm in X-Men: Apocalypse and X-Men: Dark Phoenix with better visual effects tools at its disposal, did Storm’s powers justice. Ororo’s flying abilities, for example, continued to be very limited and unidirectional. Marvel has the opportunity to showcase Ororo’s powers in a way that lives up to the character’s comic book legacy, which would set its Storm apart from previous versions right away. The MCU also has the opportunity to explore Storm’s origin story, which is something X-Men movies never did.
Marvel Shouldn’t Rely On Jean Grey (But Still Needs Her)
The MCU’s X-Men reboot cannot rely on Jean Grey. Jean was in most of the Fox X-Men movies, and the Phoenix Saga has been adapted twice. Still, the MCU’s first X-Men lineup needs Jean Grey. Some of the most important X-Men sagas, many of which were not adapted to the big screen yet, involve the “Marvel Girl.” Jean Grey is much more than the Phoenix Saga, something that the MCU can finally showcase. Marvel has plenty of popular X-Men eras to borrow from for its X-Men reboot – the original X-Men team, the ‘90s X-Men cartoon, or even the more recent Krakoa stories – and they all feature Jean on some level.
The MCU Can Do Rogue Justice
Rogue was very much a plot device in the first X-Men movie. It was through Rogue and Wolverine’s eyes that audiences got to meet the Xavier school, not to mention how Rogue’s powers were the MacGuffin that set X-Men (2000)‘s plot in motion. Wolverine and Rogue were arguably the main characters in Fox’s first X-Men movie, but the first trilogy utterly failed Rogue as a character. Not only was Rogue reduced to a supporting character with just a few lines in the sequels, but her powers and motivations were completely mischaracterized. Rogue was never part of the action in the X-Men films, a problem the MCU’s X-Men reboot must fix.
Emma Frost Can Set The MCU’s X-Men Apart From The Fox Movies
Emma Frost appeared in two X-Men movies, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: First Class. However, compared to how important Emma Frost is in the comics, it is almost as if Emma Frost has never really been used in an X-Men movie. Emma was reduced to a pawn with just a few lines in First Class, and only those who are familiar with the comics noticed that Emma Frost was in X-Men Origins. By having Emma Frost as part of its X-Men reboot, the MCU can set the new X-Men films apart from the Fox ones while also doing justice to one of the most important Marvel mutants.
The way Marvel found to reboot Spider-Man after two decades of Spider-Man films was to focus on characters and storylines that hadn’t been properly used on the big screen yet. Something similar will now probably be done with the X-Men reboot. Emma Frost can be one of the main characters in the MCU’s X-Men lineup, which would allow Marvel to tell X-Men stories that audiences haven’t seen in previous movies. Emma Frost is also a strong candidate to lead the MCU’s X-Men, especially if Professor Xavier were to have a smaller role in the MCU compared to the Fox X-Men films.
The MCU Can’t Escape Wolverine
Wolverine only joined the X-Men in 1975, more than a decade after the first X-Men comic. Still, it’s difficult not to think of Wolverine when it comes to X-Men and mutants. Even before Hugh Jackman played Wolverine on the big screen, Logan had already become one of the faces of the X-Men in the comics. Even if the MCU chooses to sideline the Earth-616 Wolverine at first, which would add up to Hugh Jackman returning as Wolverine in Deadpool 3, Marvel cannot escape Logan forever. The MCU’s X-Men lineup must live up to years of waiting for the next X-Men film; therefore, it must include Wolverine.
Hugh Jackman’s return as Wolverine for Deadpool 3, which is part of the MCU, complicates things for Marvel’s potential new Wolverine. Jackman is not expected to be the MCU’s definitive version of Wolverine, just like Patrick Stewart is not expected to be the Earth-616 Professor X. Still, the fact that Jackman’s Wolverine will be in Deadpool 3 suggests that it will take some time before the MCU’s actual X-Men team appears. It would not be surprising if the MCU’s first X-Men movie, now featuring a new Wolverine actor, only happens in Phase 7 in the aftermath of Avengers: Secret Wars.