Could X-Men: Dark Phoenix offer up a shockingly early crossover between the X-Men and the Marvel Cinematic Universe? One way or another, everything is about to change irrevocably for the X-Men franchise. This was already set to be the case for awhile now, thanks in large part to Fox's aggressive post-Deadpool production slate: the sequel to that genre-bending action-comedy is set to feature Josh Brolin as Cable, a fan-favorite of 1990s X-Men comics whose time-traveling antics helped make Mutant continuity one of the most confusing subsets of the entire Marvel Universe and will all-but surely bring similar world-changing behavior to the film versions. In addition, that character is expected to be involved in the planned spin-off franchise X-Force, a prospective R-rated subseries which joins the slate alongside the upcoming teen horror take on New Mutants. Meanwhile, in the main series, X-Men: Dark Phoenix will take the characters to outer space for the first time.
But the biggest upcoming change (however long it's been in the making) has only come into focus recently: Disney has bought Fox, returning the film rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four to Marvel studios and opening up the possibility of them appearing in the MCU. While no official word has been given as to when the X-Men will show up to share continuity with the likes of Captain America and Star-Lord, the potential for such has utterly dominated the conversation about the unprecedented studio-merger.
The Possibility Of An MCU/X-Men Crossover (This Page)
This is the first time that Disney/Marvel has reclaimed an entire massive stable of characters from another studio (X-Men rights include all heroes and villains designated as "Mutants," encompassing over 600+ characters according to Marvel.com). Daredevil returned to the fold after the time-limit on a license contract expired, while rights to The Incredible Hulk are shared with Universal Pictures. Spider-Man and his supporting cast are still technically under the ownership of Sony and shared on a film-by-film basis - with some question remaining as to the continuum status of Spidey-spinoffs like Venom and Silver & Black, which aren't officially part of the MCU but may or may not be connected to Tom Holland's same version of Peter Parker.
But in reclaiming the X-Men, Marvel will have to answer a whole new set of questions: will they retain any of the current cast? Reboot? Merge the two continuities or keep them separate - and if the first one, how to explain why the existence of Mutants has never come up before in the decades-spanning MCU timeline? Finally, if they are meant to join the Universe-proper, where and how might they first show up?
Understandably, many Marvel-watchers have assumed that the earliest likely convergence might occur in the aftermath of the yet-unnamed fourth Avengers movie. It makes some sense given it's expected to serve as a swan-song for many to most of the original MCU heroes and will spin out of the events of Avengers: Infinity War, where uber-villain Thanos' control of the Infinity Gauntlet will grant him the power to rewrite reality itself at will. That potentially allows the MCU to take on an entirely new form (perhaps a "Now with Mutants!" version?) near-instantaneously. But could it instead happen in the X-Men series first - possibly in Dark Phoenix itself?
At first, the prospect might seem unlikely (and probably still is, regardless) especially adhering to the rules of what's been considered possible for superhero movie comings and goings in the past. But the genre's evolution has been accelerated tremendously by the culturally-dominant presence of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with fellow continuity-driven franchises like the DC Extended Universe seemingly planning a drastic line-wide rewriting of history via the Flashpoint movie and X-Men itself having already overwritten its history multiple times with First Class and Days of Future Past. So it's possible that the kind of esoteric reality-shuffling stories comics readers used to assume were only comprehensible (or even of interest) to hardcore fans may, after nearly two decades of superhero-domination at the global box office, be more palatable to mainstream moviegoers than once assumed.
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- Deadpool 2 (2018) release date: May 18, 2018
- Gambit (2020) release date: Mar 13, 2020
- New Mutants (2019) release date: Aug 02, 2019