Fox’s handling of the “X-Men” franchise is a source of contention, with fans often calling to transfer rights back to Marvel Studios. Inconsistent film continuity and subversion of the lore are the main issues for those wanting to see more source material-faithful adaptations; similar to the Avengers, whose comic universe has ironically become massively intertwined with the X-Men.
Both studios have swapped characters in the past to help craft “Deadpool’s” success while enhancing James Gunn’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” sequel; an effect that paid big dividends for Sony Pictures after they loaned Spider-Man to “Captain America: Civil War” in exchange for Iron Man for “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” For fans who are hoping that Fox continues this on a bigger scale but with our beloved mutants, CBR has decided to make a wish list of 15 X-Men stories we’d love to see hit screens as part of the MCU!
Spoiler Warning: Major spoilers ahead for the X-Men universe in comics and film.
15. House of M
Imagine at the end of “Avengers: Infinity War,” Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch), whether due to her abilities reaching critical overload or even powered up by the Reality Stone, destroys Thanos, leaving the the film-verse in a strange, new place. Enter writer, Brian Bendis’ “House of M” to kickstart a new era of Marvel Studios.
This story (drawn by Olivier Coipel) revolved around Wanda and her family ruling in an alternate reality created by the Avenger when her unstable powers began to worry teammates. This could offer an avenue to resurrect brother Pietro (Quicksilver) on-screen, and introduce fans to her father, Magneto, as well as a vast array of mutants who offered resistance to their monarchy, such as Wolverine, Cyclops, Rogue and Nightcrawler. This could also pave the way for new Avengers such as She-Hulk and Spider-Woman to appear. The comic event ended with Wanda depowering mutants (known as M-Day) and the MCU could make a dramatic shift here with the fresh faces left behind from Wanda’s facade, opening the door for future X-Men and Avengers spinoffs.
14. X-Men: First Class
Matthew Vaughn’s 2011 “X-Men: First Class” film for Fox was heavily carried by the debuts of James McAvoy as Professor Xavier and Michael Fassbender as Magneto, fending off Sebastian Shaw’s World War ambitions. It saw Xavier’s first recruits include the likes of Banshee, Darwin and Mystique, which strayed heavily from the comics and didn’t leave many fans as receptive as they may have been with more traditional members.
While Vaughn’s movie did contain one of the mainstays in Hank McCoy, many hoped it would follow writer Jeff Parker’s 2006 updated run on the original team, which boasted young and impulsive takes on Xavier’s charges apart from Beast, like Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman and Angel. The budding heroes matured and mingled with a greater cross-section of Marvel characters, from their expected tiffs with Magneto’s Brotherhood, to unconventional stories featuring the likes of Doctor Strange and Thor. Such a movie could add connective tissue, not just to fans wanting an X-Men origins true to the first class, but also to the greater MCU, as they interact with characters already established in the mainstream movies.
13. X-Men: Deadly Genesis
The Summers family saga took a sharp turn with Ed Brubaker’s 2006 event, “Deadly Genesis.” It retconned their history and introduced Vulcan, the youngest and long-lost brother of Cyclops and Havok. He was jettisoned to Earth by the Shi’ar Empire and was later enlisted by Xavier as part of a relief team to rescue the original X-Men, held prisoner by the living island, Krakoa.
Xavier’s originals were recovered in a fiasco that saw the rescue team perish, with Vulcan presumed dead. Brubaker eventually unleashed him in a cerebral war on Cyclops and Xavier, which cost Banshee his life and resulted in Xavier being banished by Cyclops for a mind-wipe to erase the latter’s PTSD from the Krakoa debacle. Not only did this story place lesser-known mutants (Sway, Petra, Darwin) in the spotlight, it also had prominent characters making questionable decisions to preserve the fabric of the X-Men. Such a film has powerful potential because of the tension and revelations that rocked Xavier and Cyclops, whose entire complexion as the X-Men’s leader changed to a more aggressive stance.
12. Avengers Arena: Kill Or Die
If the MCU wants to go the route of bold, expansive storytelling, then look no further than this 2012 story from Dennis Hopeless (writer) and Kev Walker (artist). It was a violently delightful tale that saw 16 of Marvel Comics’ teenage superheroes kidnapped and thrust into an arena to battle to the death. This was Murderworld, engineered by longtime X-Men villain, Arcade, and pitted members of “Avengers Academy,” like Hazmat, Reptil, Mettle and everyone’s favorite Wolverine clone, X-23, against each other.
Following “Logan,” maybe Laura’s story as X-23 could even be continued here en route to becoming the All-New Wolverine, usable for future X-Men and Avengers movies down the line. This adaptation, while boasting some “Runaways” characters, who are set for their own show, can also introduce new faces to the MCU, such as Darkhawk, a female Deathlok and tech-genius, Juston Seyfert, who comes equipped with a reprogrammed Sentinel. It’s worth the gamble because, despite being a left-field story from Marvel, it bears the familiarity and teen appeal of “The Hunger Games,” which could heighten chances of box-office success.
11. X-Factor: The Longest Night
Peter David’s “X-Factor” stories are some of the most revered the title’s ever had, and in 2006, he further evolved its concept from that of a Jamie Madrox solo title, and into a detective agency. Madrox, known for creating duplicates of himself, used his winnings to create X-Factor Investigations to inquire into Scarlet Witch’s “House of M” meltdown and de-powered mutants, leading to run-ins with Quicksilver and the time-skipping mutant, Damian Tryp.
While it’s not certain if M-Day will be explored on-screen, the possibility of prying eyes finding new mutants is mouth-watering, given the diversity that could be added to the X-verse, with Madrox recruiting teammates such as Wolfsbane (an X-Force member), Siryn (Banshee’s daughter), Layla Miller, Monet and Strong Guy. They’re not your typical ensemble of mutant activists fighting to preserve the species, but that’s what makes this dysfunctional family so interesting. These X-Factor stories were very tongue-in-cheek and enigmatic, but also had an atmosphere of fun as they stumbled upon case after case. Should mutants arrive in the MCU, they’d be a curveball, but also a welcomed addition.
10. War of Kings
Marvel Studios will inevitably need a major cosmic antagonist post-Thanos. Enter Vulcan and the “War of Kings” event from Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, regarding the mutant’s thirst to conquer the galaxy. After fighting the X-Men in “Deadly Genesis,” Vulcan exacted revenge on the Shi’ar for his mother’s death, becoming their emperor and attacking the Inhumans using his war-driven Imperial Guard.
With Black Bolt’s team already getting their own television show, the MCU’s galactic scope could be expanded even further because of how many players were involved in opposing Vulcan. The Guardians of the Galaxy rallied with Vulcan’s brother Havok and Polaris as part of the Starjammers (originally the spacefaring team Havok’s father, Corsair, led). The Nova Corps also stood up against his tyranny, which could open the door for fan-fave, Richard Rider, to move to the front lines and build on what we’ve seen James Gunn cultivate already. This was one of the publisher’s biggest modern cosmic events and it even had readers touting it as Marvel’s very own “Star Wars,” due to the revolt against Vulcan’s empire.
9. The Onslaught Saga
Onslaught is one of Marvel’s most brutal villains and another name that hopeful fans would love to see in Thanos’ aftermath. In 1996, Magneto ripped the adamantium from Wolverine’s skeleton, causing an enraged Xavier to attack him telepathically. This created a gateway for Onslaught, a malevolent psionic entity, to be forged from the dark consciousness of both men. What gives this a lot of cinematic clout is how Onslaught ravaged through a large portion of the Marvel universe, from the X-Men to the Avengers.
He went toe-to-toe with Thor while also separating Bruce Banner from the Hulk. Imagine seeing him cut loose on-screen through telepathy, telekinesis, energy projection, manipulation of magnetic fields and the power to alter reality itself. Onslaught’s eventual defeat came at a high price, with some major players temporarily taken off the chessboard and into a pocket universe created by Franklin Richards, son of Reed and Sue (Fantastic Four). Franklin could easily be swapped out for Wanda or someone wielding the Reality Gem, making way for the “Heroes Reborn” storyline in the MCU, exploring the arcs of the missing heroes.
8. Old Man Logan
We know that “Logan” finds Wolverine the worse for wear, and judging from the bullet wounds in pictures released, with a regressing healing factor. While it may be “Old Man Logan” in look and feel, it’s still not the full concept because of Fox’s limited character rights. Mark Millar’s original story focused on the grizzled veteran traversing a supervillain-run wasteland but meeting up with Marvel’s Hawkeye, Emma Frost and Black Bolt, to name a few, in their old age.
This, if done in the MCU, could be loyally adapted, with Logan fighting dinosaurs covered with the Venom symbiote, corrupt S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, the Red Skull, as well as the Hulk’s grandchildren, stemming from an incestuous relationship with his cousin, She-Hulk. It’s one of Marvel Comics’ most no-holds-barred stories, culminating in a massively gory fight with Banner, but not before blowing minds with a dark twist. It was revealed that Logan retired his Wolverine persona after being tricked into killing the X-Men, which kept him from unsheathing his claws until the Hulk-driven finale. Which MCU fan wouldn’t want to see this chaos, one of Logan’s most guilt-ridden and sympathetic stories, unfold on-screen?
7. Secret Wars (2015)
“Secret Wars” offered an updated spin on its 1984 predecessor, which saw the Beyonder pit heroes and villains against each other in an arena, Battleworld. This story now painted Battleworld as a patchwork planet, forged from the remnants of the shattered Marvel multiverse. The villain at hand was Victor Von Doom, finally ascended to godhood, but not realizing how many heroes and evildoers, who survived in various Warzones, were ready to end his reign or usurp him. This epic could also be altered for film using Loki, Red Skull or another MCU villain if Fox won’t loan Doom (though they should, given how he’s been treated on-screen so far).
Mostly engineered by writer, Jonathan Hickman, it’s highly likely that it’ll need condensing, a-la “Civil War,” as it involved characters from Marvel’s main 616 universe colliding with folks from the Ultimate one, like the latter’s Spider-Man, aka Miles Morales, as well as Marvel 2099, Marvel 1602, “Age of Apocalypse” and “House of M.” Some of the MCU groundwork’s already present in Thor, Stephen Strange, Thanos and Black Panther, who made a crucial decision with the Reality Gem to save Earth. Translating this on-screen would definitely take the MCU’s ambition to the next level.
In 2012, Marvel Comics had an epic crossover revolving around Hope Summers (the first mutant born since M-Day, hinted as Jean Grey reincarnated) and the impending arrival of the Phoenix Force for her as its suspected host. This led to the Avengers wanting to take Hope into protective custody, which Cyclops wouldn’t allow, sparking a big dispute with the X-Men.
This story utilized a lot of Marvel’s stable, including Thor and the Secret Avengers, with the Phoenix Force splitting its power among Emma Frost, Magik, Colossus, Namor and Cyclops. The final two were most noteworthy, as Namor, formerly part of the Illuminati with Black Panther, laid waste to Wakanda, while Cyclops, as the Dark Phoenix, killed his disapproving former mentor, Xavier. Things concluded with Hope and Scarlet Witch coming to the rescue, strongly re-positioning mutants in the comics as equals alongside the Avengers. The sheer magnitude of this story in the MCU could span a couple of films as it brought these factions together like never before. It wasn’t just a clash of philosophies, but one of powerhouses, which could stand to have greater impact than the Accords.
5. Inhumans vs. X-Men
The Inhumans’ spotlight in Marvel increased over the last few years with many suggesting this was Marvel’s response to not being able to use the X-Men outside comics as they saw fit. This was seen in the “Infinity” storyline, where a Terrigen Bomb was detonated as Black Bolt was assaulted by Thanos, spreading the Terrigen Mists across Earth, awakening the powers of dormant Inhumans.
This adversely affected mutants: rendering them sterile, deactivating the X-gene or infecting them with the deadly M-Pox. It subsequently resulted in Cyclops’ death and a massive confrontation between both teams. What would make this cinematic gold is that there wouldn’t be a real villain because both species, as they’re accustomed to, are doing what it takes to survive as outsiders in the Marvel universe. This would be a great execution of showing their powerful clout against each other and offer fans a non-Avenger mash-up of epic proportions with the likes of Medusa, Karnak, Crystal, Emma Frost and Beast struggling with philosophies and allegiances. It would also highlight just why both teams need to be respected, as seen with comic events like “AvX” and “Civil War II.”
4. Uncanny Avengers: The Red Shadow
In the wake of “AvX” and Xavier’s death, Steve Rogers and Thor attempted to help the former’s lifelong dream come to fruition by incorporating mutants into what would become the Avengers Unity Squad. Havok, after chastising Cyclops’ murderous actions, was recruited as a leader with Wolverine, Sunfire, Wasp and Wonder Man joining. Rogue, irate at how mutants struggled since M-Day, also enlisted to keep an eye on Scarlet Witch, who she harbored resentment towards.
This unification was a big move in the comics, taking the doctrines of mutant acceptance one step further. The team first tackled a Red Skull clone, who stole and fused with Xavier’s brain, to once more push forth a genocidal agenda; so it’s pretty clear that not just heroes, but villains, were crossing over for both parties. With the likes of Vision, Sabretooth, Doctor Voodoo and Sam Wilson (as Captain America) signing up later on, having these rosters alternating on-screen wouldn’t just be diverse, it would truly connect the X-Men and Avengers universes like never before with tons of potential stories to bring to life.
3. Cable and X-Force: Vol. 1-3
The evolution of X-Force saw them as a black-ops team under Cyclops and Wolverine, doing anything to protect mutants, even killing. While the lineup kept shifting, this particular series (written by Dennis Hopeless and Salvador Larroca on art) saw the team’s initial leader, Cable, link with Domino, Colossus, Forge and Doctor Nemesis, in the wake of “AvX,” only to run afoul of his uncle, Havok, and the Uncanny Avengers.
Sure, it’s another case of heroes fighting heroes due to a misunderstanding, but Havok simply wanted to rein Cable in to ensure that his team wasn’t extremist. Cable, on the other hand, wanted to protect mutants in a time where he was unsure of who to trust. These three arcs (“Wanted,” “Dead or Alive” and “This Won’t End Well”) could work in the MCU, not only due to the presence of Havok’s Avengers, but through the inclusion of Steve Rogers, who wanted to keep the peace with mutants. With Cable and Domino rumored for “Deadpool 2” and an “X-Force” movie in the pipeline at Fox, it would take some work, but if Marvel Studios can pull it off, expect fireworks!
2. Age of Apocalypse
In 1995, “Age of Apocalypse” set the comic world on fire due to its action-packed, alternate reality nature and high-stakes vibe. The event focused on a world ruled under the iron fist of Apocalypse, who took over due to a botched assassination that killed Xavier years before. The entire landscape for mutants changed with Nate Grey, aka X-Man (son of Cyclops and Jean), rising up alongside various resistance squads, led by the likes of Rogue, Nightcrawler, Gambit and Magneto, who took up Xavier’s mission for peace.
Apart from the plethora of mutants that could be introduced in this story, its MCU-compatibility really lies in how it also involved non-mutants (some off-panel) such as Captain Britain, “Thunderbolt” Ross, Hawkeye, Thor, Punisher, Iron Man and Peter Parker, as part of the rebellion against Apocalypse’s forces. This is another cinematic opening to crossover both factions of heroes, a-la “House of M” or “Uncanny Avengers,” and against one of Marvel’s truly intimidating villains. It would also make things up to fans dissatisfied with “X-Men: Apocalypse,” who wanted the dystopian, shattered world closer aligned to the comics.
“Schism” was a long time coming, especially with Wolverine feeling conflicted due to his duties as a heroic Avenger, clashing with Cyclops’ at-times lethal orders in X-Force. When Cyclops made it clear that young mutants were needed to step up as soldiers and potential killers to protect mutantkind, Wolverine drew a line that was built up since their Jean Grey love-triangle, leading to both throwing down big time.
Wolverine ended up departing the haven of Utopia with some mutants, converting Xavier’s mansion into the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. Cyclops remained, with Magneto advising, and began to take his team down a more cynical, darker route, which culminated in killing Xavier. While the Avengers weren’t directly involved with this, their principles played a big part in Wolverine’s stance, which could make the MCU the best place for this to happen. A few Marvel Studios cameos, such as Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, could spice things up. What also makes this a great grab for the MCU is how Cyclops, usually a boy-scout, began to make mutants more reclusive and distrusting. What better home to produce the “Civil War” of the mutant universe?
Thoughts on our picks? Let us know in the comments what other X-Men stories you’d like to see in the MCU!
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