Could X-Men Be the Key to Marvel’s Phase 4 Movies?

Avengers vs X-Men comic book

With the world of superhero movies on the cusp of monumental changes across the board, could recent talks between Disney and Fox herald a new era for the MCU and finally bring Charles Xavier's X-Men inside the House of Mouse? As Kevin Feige and co. pull out a pair of adamantium claws and set sights on the Foxverse, a potential merger of these two powerhouses could affect Phase 4 of the MCU in a big way. The talks have since reportedly fallen apart, but the fact that they were happening at all means there's definitely hope for the X-Men to join the MCU.

There are already major question marks over where Feige plans to take the MCU next, and with 11 years of superheroes and villains leading to the untitled Avengers 4, fans are rightly concerned at what the future holds. The purple-faced Thanos and his "Infinity Saga" are two of Marvel's biggest cornerstones from the past 56 years, and while the MCU has done well to slowly work toward such an epic arc, will there be anything left to tackle once the Mad Titan has been toppled from his throne?

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A New Phase For The MCU

X-Men in the MCU

For too long, we have been limited to keeping hush about mutants in the MCU - with the Maximoff twins' origins changed to erase their links to mutantkind. While an ideal world of studios sharing their toys is almost impossible, there's plenty of demand for two of the biggest superhero movie franchises to come together. Even Stan Lee has already supported giving the X-Men to the MCU, so why not start the ball rolling in Feige's post-Thanos landscape?

Back to 2012 Marvel offered an idea for an interesting way to introduce the X-Men into the MCU, in the acclaimed Avengers vs. X-Men arc. Comic book readers will know how MCU directors often use the bare bones of a comic book story to bring an event to our screens, and AvX is great source material. Similar to the different moral stances of the heroes in Civil War, Marvel could pit fan-favorite X-Men and Avengers characters against each other in a super-sized movie akin to Infinity War. Even if an MCU version of the X-Men doesn't start with this, we could see a soft reboot of the franchise after Thanos, with Marvel building the various solo films to an AvX ensemble outing. Everyone enjoys solo movies, but arguably it's those huge team-ups that really bring in the big bucks. It is definitely too early for Civil War 2, but seeing the Avengers face off against Charles Xavier and his mutants could be one hell of an epic brawl.

No one knows whether "phases" will even factor into the next chapter of the MCU, but regardless, expect to see the usual formula of solo films interspersed with mass meetings of our favorite characters. We already know that the Guardians of the Galaxy will help launch a more cosmic MCU, but the "main" series including the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, and Spider-Man may be a little lost after 2019.

Should Fox Give Up On The X-Men?

Sophie Turner as Jean Grey using Phoenix powers in X-Men Apocalypse

Clearly, talks of a Disney and Fox union has been on the cards for a while, so perhaps this is why Feige has remained tight-lipped on what his plans are beyond Phase 3. If there was a possibility of the X-Men in the MCU's future, then that's the sort of thing that can only be revealed to fans after a deal has been struck.

However, apart from Avengers vs. X-Men, where could Disney even go with the mutants? A reboot would be the perfect time to move ahead with that controversial recasting of Hugh Jackman's Wolverine, but with plans for a Laura Kinney spin-off it doesn't sound like Fox is out of ideas just yet. Elsewhere, the likes of Ryan Reynolds and Josh Brolin seem perfect in their roles as Deadpool and Cable, so to recast them at this point would seem like a foolish idea. However, if Disney does strike a deal with Fox, it would make sense to chop off the dead wood and keep what works.

If you look over to Fox, the X-Men are going through some growing pains. Sure, there have been record-breaking triumphs like Deadpool and Logan, but other entries - particularly those centering round the X-Men as a team, as opposed to solo movies - haven't been so lucky. The X-Men ensemble movies have ridden highs like X:2 and Days of Future Past , but also seen low points like The Last Stand and Apocalypse.

If the X-Men were to debut in the MCU as a time (as opposed to Marvel bringing individual mutants), it would likely mean an end to the current iteration of the superhero team.  You only have to look at the hype surrounding Fox's 2018's offerings like Deadpool 2 and New Mutants to see that X-Men: Dark Phoenix is the least-anticipated entry of the bunch. In 2017 and beyond, fans clearly want something more than a second rehash of Jean Grey's fall from grace.

If Disney is going to introduce the X-Men into the MCU, a fresh start for Charles, Jean, Erik, and Logan could be just what the lycra-clad gifted youngsters really need.

Related: Could Buying X-Men Save Marvel’s Inhumans?

Is It All Too Good To Be True?

1992 X-Men Animated series

But, can the Marvel Monopoly go too far? It is easy to see how Feige could put too much on his plate, and the biggest worry is that the quality of the movies might suffer. So far, Thor: The Dark World wins the unofficial award as the weakest Marvel entry, but how much longer until the world's highest-grossing franchise drops the ball on one of its movies?

That being said, Fox seems to be holding onto its franchises just for the sake of it. The less said about The Fantastic Four, the better, but it's not hard to imagine a future where Fox keeps milking the X-Men until general moviegoers just aren't interested any more. Ultimately, a lot of what happens to the X-Men and their MCU possibilities will depend on how Dark Phoenix performs critically and at the box office.

This all may prove to be academic since the merger talks have hit a stumbling block. However, that isn't to say that Fox and Disney can't come to some sort of arrangement à la Sony and the MCU. Audiences have already seen the successful reboot of Spider-Man, and 2017's Homecoming was clearly a move in the right direction for superhero studio relations. While Fox obviously has plenty of reason to hold on to properties like Deadpool, casting off the limbo-trapped Xavier movies could be a clever move indeed. Just as Sony is keeping its dark villainverse, Fox could quit while they're ahead and keep to more mature, experimental movies like New Mutants.

While all of the above leaves some tantalizing plot threads for the X-Men and the MCU, the stalling of talks between Fox and Disney has fans hanging in purgatory just like Wolverine himself. However, even if the X-Men don't arrive in time for the MCU's Phase 4 (or whatever is coming next), the latest talks show that a deal can be reached and surely will be one day - let's not put a "X" through this one just yet!

Next: Spider-Man Proves Marvel Could Reboot X-Men Movies (Again)

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