The Problems This Poses in Adapting the X-Men
This theory allows Marvel to seamlessly add the idea of mutants into the MCU, although it has problems when trying to apply classic narratives. The fundamental issue is that there are a number of key mutants whose long, extended history is important to their character arcs and even powers. Apocalypse hails from Ancient Egypt, Magneto's motivation is tied to the horrors he endured during the Holocaust, and Wolverine has a long, confused history that runs all the way back to the 1800s. The very idea that Charles Xavier can serve as a mentor and teacher to young mutants requires him to have had access to his powers for quite a while now.
But there may be a solution. If exposure to the Mind Stone triggered Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver's latent X-genes, it's not out of the question for a small number of mutants have indeed had their powers activated in the past. It's difficult to imagine what energy releases could have triggered Wolverine's powers back in the 1800s, but the comic book version of Apocalypse has always been tied to an alien race known as the Celestials, and perhaps Magneto was subjected to Hydra experiments during World War II (that may also explain his long life). A couple of other mutants could have had their powers activated as a result of exposure to radiation from atomic bomb tests; that may even fit with Charles Xavier, who served in the military for a while. There'd be a certain degree of irony to this, given Stan Lee originally envisioned mutants as the result of increasing radiation levels in Earth's atmosphere. That's why he sometimes called the X-Men the "Children of the Atom."
Looking to the wider MCU, there's actually circumstantial evidence to support this idea should a retcon happen. According to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the organization maintained a list they referred to as the Gifted Index, that allowed them to keep track of powered individuals. Just the name brought a smile to lovers of the X-Men comics, given Xavier often called his mutant students "gifted." That list could be retconned as including latent mutants whose powers were triggered due to some sort of incident.
What we have here is a deceptively simple solution to the X-Men conundrum in the MCU that deftly maintains the continuity without any need for timeline fudging or a full rewrite. Importantly, any problems with this idea aren't impossible to solve; they just require a little creativity. If Marvel did take this approach, it would allow them to introduce an X-Men team akin to their core concept; a group of young mutants who are suddenly thrown into a world that knows nothing but hate and fear for them.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019