In December last year, Disney finalized plans to purchase the bulk of 21st Century Fox. Should the deal be approved by regulators, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four will finally become part of the MCU. And it seems Marvel insiders are considering pulling that off by adapting 2015’s Secret Wars event.
There’s a sense in which Marvel Studios are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the MCU by facing their greatest challenge to date. Should Disney’s purchase of Fox go ahead, Marvel will have to decide how to integrate some massive franchises into their shared cinematic universe. These franchises include some inspired casting decisions and some tremendously successful films. Deadpool and Logan took experimental approaches towards superheroics that wowed fans, while the tentpole X-Men films include major stars such as Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy. It’s true that Marvel could choose to simply retcon mutants into the MCU; but would they really want to wipe the slate clean?
In an interview with Lintern@ute, Infinity War co-director Joe Russo pointed to one possible way to pull this off. “If Disney’s takeover of Fox goes through, there’s a lot more characters to work with all of a sudden,” he noted. “It might be interesting to do something like Secret Wars…”
The original Secret Wars miniseries was a 1984-1985 event that united most of Marvel’s key heroes and villains. But Russo is clearly referring to a sort of “sequel event,” launched by Jonathan Hickman in 2015. This was a remarkable event that saw Marvel’s multiverse destroyed. Only fragments of different realities remained, stitched together into a sort of patchwork-quilt reality known as Battleworld. The event allowed Marvel to introduce a range of alternate-dimension characters; when reality was restored, several characters and concepts made the jump into the mainstream Marvel Comics universe. A big-screen version of this could ultimately lead to a streamlined reality. It could easily combine the MCU and Fox franchises into a single cinematic universe.
Both Marvel and Fox are already playing with cosmic concepts that could instigate a Secret Wars movie. X-Men: Dark Phoenix will focus in on the Phoenix Force, a cosmic being who transcends the dimensions. Marvel Studios is already exploring the Multiverse theory, and many fans believe the Quantum Realm will be used to set up time-travel. Avengers 4 is generally expected to be a time-travel film, while Fox are introducing the X-Men’s best-known time-traveler, Cable, in Deadpool 2. It really wouldn’t be hard to tap into these cosmic forces and powersets, and bring about a multiversal collision.
While it’s interesting to hear what ideas Marvel insiders are toying with, Russo’s comment does reveal one thing about the future. The title of Avengers 4 is still a mystery; Marvel refuse to reveal it because it’s some sort of spoiler. That suggests the title will either reveal the outcome of Infinity War, or connect the film to a major comic book event. The latter possibility had led many fans to theorize Avengers 4 would actually be Secret Wars, which all of time and space colliding together due to Thanos’s use of the Infinity Gauntlet. That seems unlikely; Joe Russo wouldn’t be considering that as a post-merger option if he’d already used a similar concept.
Fans will certainly be excited to hear that Marvel insiders are wrestling with these questions. Should the X-Men be recast, or should Marvel instead choose to merge realities? Should regulators approve the Disney purchase, Marvel will have to make some major decisions.
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