If Marvel can do it with the Avengers, Fox can do it with the X-Men.
That’s the philosophy behind the growing X-Men cinematic universe, which includes the likes of the ongoing adventures of young Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, and the rest in the next major franchise flick (likely to feature Mr. Sinister or Dark Phoenix as its focus); a sequel to Deadpool that will apparently introduce Cable; the on-again-off-again Gambit movie; and teen-focused New Mutants.
That last one is expected to introduce an all-new crew of teenage students at Xavier’s School who are turned into a team when circumstances require it. The Fault In Our Stars‘ Josh Boone is writing and directing, and has teased the inclusion of Magik, Cannonball, Wolfsbane, Sunspot, Mirage, and Warlock. That movie is expected to arrive in 2018.
But New Mutants got us thinking… What other teams and team-ups could Fox use from Marvel’s long, long history to expand its X-Men universe on the silver screen?
Here are X-Men: 12 Team-up Spinoffs We’d Love To See.
The history of X-Statix is not an easy one to explain, so it’s no coincidence that the team sits at the bottom of this list. Although the team wore the ubiquitous “X” logo for its entire run, the members never seemed to struggle with the “hated and feared” angst that other mutants always face. Perhaps that’s because in the Marvel universe, X-Statix was more than a superhero team — it was also a popular reality television show. X-Statix the comic was also never quite meant to be taken completely seriously. This is the comic that gave the world Doop, for example, and is probably best remembered as the book that wanted to resurrect Princess Diana as a zombie superhero.
Death was a major part of the series, with heroes dying frequently in battle, forcing the team to constantly take on new members. The group originally went under the moniker of X-Force, but changed its name due to an in-universe “copyright issue.”
It’s probably the most oddball X-Men book ever, with a point-of-view and tone so unique, it was truly like nothing else Marvel has ever done. For that reason alone, it would be awfully hard to translate to the big screen and hold onto the distinct tone that made it what it was. Making things much harder is the fact that X-Statix was very much a “Rated M” title, unafraid to delve into extremely adult situations and a level of gore that could make the cast of The Walking Dead cringe.
11. Ultimate X-Men
You know the story. In 2000, Marvel cooked up a way to bring in new readers: create a parallel universe filled with familiar superheroes — but give them modern makeovers. New designs, updated backstories, and every title released would be a brand new origin story. Ultimate Spider-Man was the crown jewel of this experiment, reinventing Peter Parker’s story and eventually introducing his Ultimate successor, Miles Morales.
The X-Men films are nothing if not modern interpretations of classic comic book stories and characters already. So the only logical reason to bring in the Ultimate brand would be to create a similar, second X-Men universe, or a full-on reboot of Fox’s whole shebang. It’s doubtful cinema would support two separate-but-similar X-Men universes. Likewise, the reboot option will no doubt be considered someday, perhaps if and when the current universe grows stale.
Or, Fox could use “Ultimate” in name only, to launch a team of new mutants on some kind of special mission, kind of like Astonishing X-Men or Xtreme X-Men. It’d have to be a pretty dire, universe-in-peril mission to earn the moniker “Ultimate,” but that’s precisely what comic book movies do.
For a truly different side of the X-Men universe, Fox might consider a movie based on the Morlocks, one of Marvel’s longest-running mutant factions. Similar to Mutant Town (see: #3, X-Factor), the Morlocks are outcasts from society who, in this case, live in the tunnels that run below New York City. Unlike the residents of Mutant Town, the Morlocks are a completely self-sufficient society with no interest in obtaining acceptance from or living alongside normal humans.
Elements of homelessness and street gangs also play into Morlock society, and as you’ve might have guessed, they’re named after the enslaved underclass of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. Their relations with the X-Men have always been dicey, sometimes fighting alongside them for a common interest, but other times opposing their rules and order.
The Morlocks were founded by the mutant Callisto, but her extremist views have brought her into conflict with Storm on numerous occasions. Storm has even served as the Morlocks’ leader at times, after wresting control from Callisto. Despite their wide array of mutations and abilities, the Morlocks are not a team, and most often tend to be depicted as collateral damage in the many conflicts the X-Men find themselves in. That “victims on the sidelines” perspective could lead to some fascinating new kinds of superhero stories on film.
9. Alpha Flight
If the Avengers were all mutants, working under government supervision and funding, and based in Canada instead of the United States, you’d have Alpha Flight. Essentially Canada’s only superhero team, it was originally created by a government branch called Department H, which had interests in research and development where superhuman abilities were concerned. It was also tasked with oversight of all Canadian superheroes.
Alpha Flight was formed by James Hudson, aka Guardian, after he heard about the first-ever American superhero team, the Fantastic Four. Hudson wore a special suit he’d designed himself that gave him tech-powered abilities, although a later misunderstanding with some aliens caused the suit to be bonded to his body, making him a cyborg.
Alpha Flight has included many heroes over the years, and is known as the first superhero team Wolverine ever served with. Like other teams, its roster has been a revolving door, but some of its most memorable heroes include the huge, hairy Sasquatch (who’s exactly what he sounds like), a short, strong man named Puck who for years never wore pants (it was a thing), Vindicator (Guardian’s wife and counterpart), Northstar (one of the first openly gay superheroes); and many more.
As the mutant population grows in the films — as it did in the comics — so does the complexity of the species and its relations with homo sapiens. With tensions between the two rising ever higher and countries around the world unprepared to deal with the mutant population explosion, the United Nations decides to put together a special task force.
The X.S.E., or the X-Treme Sanctions Executive, is this unit. The twist is that it’s comprised entirely of mutants, effectively making the X.S.E. the “mutant police,” enforcing the law upon their own species. Storm was the mastermind behind this globe-trotting group and served as its official leader, during a time when she and Professor X were feuding due to philosophical differences. She was joined by Rachel Summers, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Bishop, Cannonball, and Sage.
Even though there’s no corresponding comic book of the same name (the X.S.E. appeared in X-Treme X-Men), the notion of a world-traveling team of mutant law enforcers is a strong enough concept that we believe it could support a movie of its own.
7. Dark X-Men
The Dark X-Men were a one-time thing that was borne out of a line-wide Marvel Comics event called “Dark Reign.” Through a series of (rather convoluted) events, Spider-Man’s arch villain Norman Osborn becomes the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (though he renames it H.A.M.M.E.R. for some reason), and installs a bunch of villains as his very own Avengers, with similarly powered individuals masquerading before the public as their heroic counterparts. Bullseye wore Hawkeye’s costume, for example, and Wolverine’s wicked son Daken pretended to be his dear old dad.
A similar state of affairs took place in the X-Men corner of the Marvel U, with baddies pretending to be good guys. That idea is pretty fun on its own, but the “Dark X-Men” name could easily open the door to another kind of movie that doesn’t have a direct correlation in the comic books — a mutant version of the Thunderbolts or Suicide Squad.
Imagine a group of villainous mutants made up of the likes of Sabretooth, Juggernaut, and Mystique, conscripted into serving the greater good. What if the government were to coerce these bad guys into working as a team to hunt down powerful mutants that have been deemed to powerful to roam free?
It would be easy to call Excalibur “the British X-Men team,” but that would do the group a grave injustice. Heavily steeped in Arthurian myth, Excalibur often found itself a nexus of the multiverse, with alternate versions of the team members occasionally guest starring and trips to other Earths a frequent occurrence.
At the heart of Excalibur is Brian Braddock (brother to Betsy “Psylocke” Braddock), the mutant known as Captain Britain. As strongly tied to British lore as Steve Rogers is to America’s history, Braddock was the latest in a line of defenders of the multiverse. And England, of course. He has powers of greatly heightened strength, agility, and resilience — and he could fly, too.
He was joined by heroes both British (Meggan, Pete Wisdom) and American (Kitty Pryde, Nightcrawler, Rachel Summers). With its links to medieval legends like King Arthur, Excalibur could be the X-Men’s answer to Thor.
Remember that old cult TV show Sliders? It starred Jerry O’Connell, John Rhys-Davies, and others as scientists traveling through parallel dimensions, encountering alternate versions of themselves and wildly diverse versions of Earth and society. Add superhero mutants to Sliders, and Exiles is the result.
The Exiles were a team of mutant adventurers sent through alternate dimensions by a mysterious entity named the Timebroker. He gave the team a mystical gauntlet device called the Talus that guided their travels. Instead of existing characters, the team was made up of survivors from alternate Earths. Their purpose was to repair fractures in time across the multiverse.
While a few familiar names like Beak and Psylocke helped the team from time to time, the group was primarily made up of new mutant characters that were created specifically for the Exiles comic. Many of them were alternate-reality versions of characters we’re already familiar with, such as Beast, Gambit, Rogue, Sabretooth, and more. The book often centered on a mutant named Mimic, who could copy the abilities of others, allowing him to wield Wolverine’s claws, shoot Cyclops’ eye beams, and protect himself with Colossus’ metal skin.
Aside from introducing new mutants and dimension-jumping exploits to big screen continuity, an Exiles movie could also allow current or past X-Men actors to return to the screen as very different incarnations of their famous characters.
4. The Starjammers
Many an X-Men adventure has taken mutants into space. Professor Xavier is even married to an alien queen from the Shi’ar race! But there’s no space-based team of X-Men. There are, however, the Starjammers.
The Starjammers are not mutants; they’re space pirates, though they usually find themselves fighting intergalactic bad guys such as wicked rulers in need of overthrowing. Oh, and they’re led by one Christopher Summers, also known as Corsair — father to the famous X-Men Cyclops and Havok. After Chris and his wife (who was later killed, RIP) were abducted from Earth by an alien race (sound familiar?), he rescued a female alien named Hepzibah from his captors, and joined up with two other aliens named Ch’od and Raza. They stole a ship and escaped, and set about on adventures as the Starjammers.
The vast majority of their travels bring them into contact with various X-Men, and several of them have served as members of the Starjammers crew, such as Havok, Professor X, Rachel Summers, Polaris, and more. The crossover goes both ways, too, with Starjammers occasionally helping out the X-Men with their missions on Earth. And yes, Corsair (the guy in the picture above rocking the horseshoe mustache) was eventually reunited with his sons, but that’s a long story for another day.
Since they come under the umbrella of the X-Men corner of the Marvel universe, Fox should have the rights to use them. The Starjammers could be Fox’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
3. X-Factor Investigations
The original X-Factor was a team of the original five X-Men, who incorporated themselves and operated separately from the X-Men, who they believed had lost their way. The government-approved X-Factor had Jean Grey, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, and Angel operating in disguise, using pseudonyms to appear to be non-mutant superheroes who hunted dangerous mutants. The book enjoyed a long run and contributed much to the X-Men mythos, but eventually the group disbanded to rejoin Xavier’s school.
The version of X-Factor we’d much rather see on screen is Peter David’s X-Factor Investigations, a wholly separate enterprise that depicted a detective agency set in District X, aka the fictional New York neighborhood “Mutant Town.” The flavor of this movie would be very different than anything we’ve seen from X-Men movies before, portraying a more street-level, noir-ish vibe.
The group was led by Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, who can create unlimited numbers of duplicates of himself (and was almost nothing like the villainous version seen in X-Men: The Last Stand). He brought in a group of close friends to support his detective work, including Wolfsbane and Strong Guy, work which they saw as the only true justice the residents of Mutant Town would ever receive.
In 2003, Marvel launched a solo title for Raven Darkholme, aka Mystique, that had a very clever hook. Tired of being pursued by nations around the world for years of pro-mutant crimes, Mystique struck a deal with Professor X. If she would undertake covert missions for him that no one could ever know about, he would use his psychic powers to protect her from those looking for her. She would be joined in the field by Forge, who provided whatever gadgetry and weapons she needed, while seven-inch-tall Shortpack would be her handler.
Hardcore X-fans have been critical of the First Class movies for rewriting the history between Xavier and Mystique, as played by James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence. But viewers who bring no expectations to the movies often find their relationship to be one of the film’s most emotionally-resonant qualities. With that in mind, the recent movies seem like a perfect setup for Xavier and Mystique to embark on a similar journey as what was seen in the Mystique comic. Factor in Lawrence’s graduation to Hollywood’s A-list status, and you’ve got a perfect X-vehicle for her.
But no mutant is an island. As even the solo Wolverine movies have taught us, a flick centered around a single X-Man has to come with supporting mutant players. Raven already has relationships with other movie characters, such as Beast and Magneto , not to mention all the noobs she meets in X-Men: Apocalypse, so it shouldn’t be too hard to put together a support crew for her. Or, they could use this opportunity to introduce several new mutants. Because why not?
If there were a high school superlative for “most likely to become a movie,” X-Force would be the top contender. (It’s pretty much already confirmed, though never formally announced.) While X-Force the team has served various roles over the years, it has most often been seen as a first line of defense for mutants, a group that seeks potential threats to mutantkind and neutralizes them. And it’s almost always been a covert team, far from the public eye.
More recent versions of the team have been tasked with black ops related to mutant interests. Yeah, that’s a darker corner of the X-universe than we’ve seen on screen thus far, but it has a number of things going for it. First of all, the one mutant more frequently associated with the team than any other is the ultra straight-laced Cable. As Deadpool fans know, Cable is likely to show up in Deadpool 2, because their “odd couple” pairing is a fan favorite.
With Deadpool being such a huge hit for Fox, the studio is undoubtedly eager to find ways to incorporate the Ryan Reynolds character into more of its X-movies. Instead of a Deadpool 3, why not have Cable and the Merc With A Mouth make the jump to a team? And what better team for their shared take-no-prisoners policy than with X-Force.
Other team members over the years have included equally hardcore mutants — aka, those who have no moral boundaries when it comes to killing — like Wolverine, Psylocke, Fantomex, Domino, Warpath, X-23, and more. That means plenty of characters for the movie to choose from. Wolverine wouldn’t be included in all liklihood, since Hugh Jackman is retiring, unless Fox replaces him with a new actor. But Psylocke is in X-Men: Apocalypse and X-23 is likely to be a high priority for future movies, so the groundwork is seemingly being laid. Stay tuned.
Which X-Men team-up spinoffs would you like to see? Let us know in the comments.