The X-Men are coming to the MCU eventually, but in the short-term that means fewer movies starring mutants. With the Disney-Fox acquisition, the rights to the X-Men (along with the Fantastic Four) have moved to Marvel Studios, meaning the Fox X-Men movie series is winding down and will soon end, with the possible exception of Deadpool.
The MCU is currently in a state of transition, as Avengers: Endgame has drastically changed the line-up of the heroes and has permanently altered the setting. Spider-Man: Far From Home will be the final movie in Marvel Phase 3, with Phase 4 consisting of at least six movies - Black Widow, The Eternals, Doctor Strange 2, Black Panther 2, Shang-Chi, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
Not on the expected slate, though, is anything from the X-Men. And here's a complication of the deal. Now the X-Men are set to be part of the MCU, the mutants have the potential to grow in various directions; but until we get there, there's likely to be fewer X-Men movies than there would have been if the Disney/Fox deal hadn't gone through.
Fox Had Plans For A Dozen X-Men Movies
The Disney/Fox deal led to all planned X-Men movie projects being shelved, with the exception of those that had entered production. X-Men: Dark Phoenix is coming out in June and New Mutants is due to be released in 2020, the last entry in the Fox X-Men movie series.
But there were other projects in the planning stages that will now never see the light of day. New Mutants was going to receive at least two sequels. Channing Tatum's Gambit movie had been in development for years before being officially canceled. The solo movies involving Kitty Pryde, Multiple Man, and X-23 seem to be gone as well. A X-Force movie is currently on hold, although there is a chance that the project might be revived if Disney decides to keep the Deadpool franchise as a separate entity. There were also comments made by Simon Kinberg that movies based on Alpha Flight and the Exiles were in development, but those are likely gone as well.
The MCU Likely Won't Have The X-Men Until 2023
But while the impact of the Disney/Fox is being felt on the existing movies, that doesn't mean the X-Men will be coming to the MCU just yet. The plans for Marvel Phase 4 are already in motion; Kevin Feige has said that the next five years of Marvel movies are planned out and that the X-Men won't be introduced until that slate is concluded. which means that the X-Men might not appear until 2023.
It makes sense for Marvel to not upend their carefully laid plans in order to rush the X-Men into the MCU at the first opportunity. The new characters that will be introduced in the next batch of movies (such as the Eternals and Shang-Chi) need room to develop, and a group as major as the X-Men would likely upstage them. Additionally, the Fox X-Men movies are still fresh in the minds of the fans and it's probably for the best to put some distance between the old version of the team and the new.
Yes, The Disney/Fox Acquisition Is Good For The X-Men...
The result is a complicated situation for X-Men fans. The Fox X-Men movies made a lot of mistakes, messing up some major storylines, such as how the Dark Phoenix Saga ignored the interstellar parts of the plot and turning Apocalypse into one of the most boring villains in the series. There are several prominent characters who were relegated to background roles (such as Bishop), while other major characters never appeared at all (such Mister Sinister).
The MCU is an opportunity to correct that. Marvel Studios has proven that they can reboot wronged characters, respect the comics, and build storylines that last for years. And the X-Men might benefit from that level of planning more than any other property; there is an abundance of material involving the X-Men that were barely touched by Fox that can be done in the MCU, to say nothing of the material that was mismanaged to the point where it can still be adapted in a more faithful form.
But X-Men Fans Have A Rocky Road Ahead
As already established, though, the addition of the X-Men into the MCU is not without its drawbacks. The wait, with no X-Men movie from New Mutants until at least 2023, will be a long one for fans to sustain, and given how many franchises Marvel is working with, there's unlikely to be as many films released annually as Fox was planning. And that's nothing on the amount of legwork required to introduce them to the universe.
There are currently no mutants in the MCU (as far as anyone can tell) which means that a lot of characters will have to be reworked in order to make them fit into the movies. There are mutants who have been around for centuries (such as Apocalypse and Selene), while the very basis of the X-Men involves young mutants being trained by an older teacher (such as Charles Xavier).
The introduction of mutants into the MCU can happen a few different ways, although none of them are ideal. There could be an event that awakens mutant powers around the world, but there wouldn't be any established characters who have existed for years. There is also the possibility that mutants existed all along and hid their powers from the world, which would be difficult for the audience to accept, especially with so many super-powered beings running around the MCU. Why would mutants have to deal with a world that fears and hates them when people like Captain Marvel and Scarlet Witch are beloved?
What Marvel Can Do In The Meantime
Introducing the X-Men into the MCU is no small task and their addition to the franchise is going to be a monumental event, which is surely why Kevin Feige is in no rush to put them in. But the mutants aren't the only superhero team that Disney acquired in the Fox deal.
The Fantastic Four have received three terrible movie adaptations (four if the Roger Corman film is counted) and the team badly needs a movie adaptation that does them justice. The Fantastic Four helped to create the Marvel universe and they deserve a place in the MCU.
Introducing the Fantastic Four into the MCU would be a much simpler proposition than the X-Men, as it involves four people being given superpowers by cosmic rays that hit them during a space mission. The Fantastic Four also have an incredible selection of villains to choose from, with Doctor Doom and Galactus being chief among them. The MCU has already established that an entire country can hide from the world (in the form of Wakanda) so the same can also happen with Latveria, while Galactus can be the next cosmic-level threat that raises the stakes after the Thanos storyline.
There is also still Deadpool, who is distant enough from the Fox X-Men movies that Disney intends to continue with Ryan Reynolds. The upcoming Disney+ streaming service means that there is also room for X-Men TV shows that can exist outside of the MCU, which can act as a testing ground for potential movie series.
The Disney/Fox deal has made it possible for the entire Marvel Universe (except for a few select characters) to appear on film. It's now up to Kevin Feige and his team to work out the best way to bring the mutants into the MCU. Thankfully or not (depending on your view, he's got time to get it right.
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- New Mutants (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020