Disney's merger with Fox has gained shareholder approval, and - assuming everything goes as planned - it won't be long before the X-Men become part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But how can this be done without completely breaking continuity?
In December last year, Disney and Fox finalized a deal that will see the House of Mouse purchase the bulk of Fox's film and TV empire. United States regulators approved it in June, and Disney and Fox shareholders voted in favor of the merger a month later. It's not quite a done deal yet, with overseas regulators still making crucial decisions, including over the fate of Sky Broadcasting. Should these international regulators also sign off on the deal, the two companies will then begin a months-long process that will ultimately see 21st Century Fox become part of Disney.
But, it looks likely, and Disney CEO Bob Iger has already confirmed that he intends the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises to become part of the MCU. However, while the Fantastic Four can be added with relative ease, the X-Men are a far trickier proposition; just how do you incorporate the idea of mutants into this shared cinematic universe? The problem with the shared universe model is that everything affects everything else. If mutants have been part of the MCU all along, why haven't we seen them before now? There's a real risk that Marvel could damage their often-shaky continuity beyond repair. Here, we're going to look at one approach they could take that would avoid that.
- This Page: The MCU Can Introduce Latent Mutants
- Page 2: How This Inhumans Idea Would Work In The MCU
- Page 3: The Problem With Latent Mutants in The MCU
The MCU Can Have The Latent Mutant Gene Activated
The key to introducing the mutants may lie in the X-Men already in the MCU. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are mutants in the comics, but are so linked to the Avengers Marvel still had the rights to the characters, leading to their introduction in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Peter Maximoff wasn't long for this world, but his sister has become a key part of the shared universe - and clues suggest she may be a retconned mutant.
In Age of Ultron, it's stated Wanda gained her powers after being subjected to the cosmic energy of the Mind Stone. But the new Marvel Visual Dictionary suggests something different. "Whether it altered her or merely unlocked something latent inside Wanda," the Visual Dictionary notes, "the Infinity Stone on Loki's scepter bestowed incredible powers of the mind." The clear implication is that the Mind Stone may have simply triggered something that already lay dormant within her.
In the comics, "latent" mutants are people born with a dormant X-gene. If the X-gene is ever activated, usually by an outside power, their mutation will be triggered and they'll gain access to their abilities. Wanda and her brother Pietro could simply have been the only people exposed to the Mind Stone who had dormant X-genes. Indeed, that would explain why Quicksilver's powers seem so oddly unconnected to the Mind Stone; Strucker's experiments triggered the latent powers that were already there.
Should everything go as planned between Disney and Fox, the path is clear for Marvel Studios to retcon Scarlet Witch as a latent mutant. This could be extrapolated to apply wider: assuming a significant number of people across the globe have a latent X-gene, all it would take is a release of cosmic energy across the planet - perhaps even the destruction of an Infinity Stone or a burst of energy from the Quantum Realm - to activate new mutants worldwide.