Essex Corp in the X-Men Movies So Far
Attentive viewers will know this isn't the first time Fox has name-dropped Nathaniel Essex. X-Men: Apocalypse's post-credits scene revisited the Weapon X Project, with a group of men in suits visiting during the cleanup. They're unconcerned with the bloodshed, focused relentlessly upon their goal; acquiring a sample of Wolverine's blood. The final shot focused in on the distinctive brand on their cases: ESSEX CORP.
This initially seems intended to tie into Logan, establishing that Essex Corp was responsible for the creation of X-23. However Logan director James Mangold chose to take the film in a slightly different direction, avoiding using Sinister at all. As he explained, "[that] kind of operatic highly-costumed, stroboscopic villainy... that's not in this movie." Logan attempted to ditch the kind of spectacle typically seen in superhero films, instead taking a more personal and intimate approach. Sinister just wouldn't have been appropriate.
As far as Fox is concerned, though, there's still an implicit connection between X-Men: Apocalypse and Logan. Simon Kinberg confirmed that the implication is that Essex Corp. was responsible for collecting the genetic samples of countless mutants, and by the time of Logan were the ones who created a small army of mutant assassins and clones. This may be how Essex Corp. is linked to the orphanage, with Sinister using it as an opportunity to experiment upon young mutants, then erasing their memories as in the comics.
What's Next for Essex?
Fox currently has two other X-Men films in production, New Mutants and X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Curiously enough, there have been rumors tying both movies to Sinister. In the case of New Mutants, there are rumors that the film's post-credits scene originally featured John Hamm as Mr. Sinister. This has reportedly been cut, with Antonio Banderas appearing as a different character instead. It's possible this particular cut is a result of Fox's switching up the pair's release dates; perhaps the changed order of release would damage the build-up.
But Sinister has also been tied to Dark Phoenix. Jessica Chastain is playing that film's main villain, the identity of which has been a closely-held secret. The latest rumors suggest that she's actually playing Miss Sinister, a gender-swapped version of the mad scientist. There is comic book precedent for this body-swap, as Sinister does transfer his consciousness between bodies, and has used a female form on occasion. It's important to stress that this is only a rumor, but it would make sense; Dark Phoenix is focused on Cyclops and Jean Grey, the objects of Sinister's obsession. Sinister even has subtle ties to the Phoenix Force, attempting to control it for a while.
And then there's Gambit. This has been the most troubled of Fox's X-Men spinoffs, suffering a constant spate of delays and changing director countless times. Simon Kinberg recently revealed the studio hope to name a director soon, and aim to begin filming this summer. Gambit is another X-Man with strong ties to Sinister; in the comics, when Remy LeBeau's powers first manifested they were out of control, and he had to go to Sinister for help. In return, Sinister forced Gambit to work for him for a time. It wouldn't be out of the question for Gambit to continue Sinister's story in the X-Men universe.
One thing's for certain: we're hearing the name "Essex" far too often. Continuity has hardly been the watchword of Fox's X-Men franchise, but this time the studio is headed in a clear direction, one that even involves their R-rated spinoffs.
- Deadpool 2 (2018) release date: May 18, 2018
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- Gambit (2020) release date: Mar 13, 2020
- New Mutants (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020