How introducing the X-Men could change the MCU forever

The X-Men ARE being introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe at some point, but how and when and where? We break down what we know and imagine the rest:

As Marvel moves into Phase 4 of the wildly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, the MCU finds itself in an interesting position. Thus far, the studio has yet to announce any big crossovers on the scale of an Avengers movie. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there won’t be crossovers, however. And if there’s to be any hope of a  mash-up that could live up to Infinity War and Endgame, one essential ingredient has to be involved: the X-Men.

Ever since Marvel regained the film rights to the X-Men after Disney bought 21st Century Fox in 2019, fans have been speculating about how everyone’s favorite superpowered mutants might finally join the MCU. Marvel has remained tight-lipped about how the X-Men will join the fray, and given the situation facing the studio, that’s understandable. From 2000’s X-Men to 2019’s Dark Phoenix, Fox’s long run of X-Men movies was ridiculously hit-or-miss, but there were enough films to forever cement certain elements in viewers’ minds, like Hugh Jackman as the definitive onscreen Wolverine. With the X-Men, Marvel has to not only introduce a new, incredibly complex element into the MCU, but also reinvent one of the best-known superhero movie franchises.

But hey, Disney and Sony pulled it off with Spider-Man; Tom Holland’s take on the character now feels like an indispensable part of the MCU. So count me in to give them the benefit of the doubt.

While there haven’t been any concrete announcements yet, there have been a few clues as to what might lie ahead; enough to speculate, certainly. Because given what we know, it’s starting to look like we might begin meeting mutants sooner rather than later.

The X-Men on Disney+?

This is a leaked picture from the set of The Falcon & the Winter Soldier, one of several Marvel TV series the studio is readying for Disney+. As the_geek_power puts together above, whatever is being filmed here is set in Madripoor, a key location in the X-Men comics.

Madripoor has been called the “Mos Eisley Cantina” of X-locales, a wretched hive of scum and villainy. The city is split into a ridiculously wealthy district (Hightown) and a desolately poor one (Lowtown)…so you can imagine what kind of societal issues that might cause.

Since it’s an autonomous, well-defended island nation, villains like the Kingpin use Madripoor to stash their riches, and X-Men like Wolverine have been known to frequent it as well. And there are more connections. More leaked photos from The Falcon & the Winter Soldier show a biker gang with the symbol of the X-Men villain Ogun displayed on their jackets. Ogun is a crime lord who calls Madripoor home. He’s a skilled martial artist as well as a sorcerer who can take control of people’s minds. He also trained Wolverine in the ways of the ninja.

Whether Ogun actually shows up in the series remains to be seen…but whatever Marvel has planned, it seems clear that they’re at the very least working X-Men Easter eggs into the MCU as quickly as possible. And The Falcon & the Winter Soldier was originally supposed to debut this month, until the coronavirus forced a delay. So we’re due to see some X-hints very soon, which is encouraging. Even without cameos from actual mutants, these shows and movies look to lay the groundwork for the X-Men’s eventual cinematic homecoming.

Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Image: Disney/The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The X-Men in The Eternals?

And Mandripoor isn’t the only X-location we’ve heard about. Another is the rumored appearance of the Savage Land in The Eternals movie.

The Savage Land is another iconic location relevant to both the X-Men and the Avengers. Located in Antarctica, the Savage Land is a hidden land out of time, where dinosaurs still roam and a Tarzan-like hero named Ka-Zar fights the good fight. It also happens to be a valuable source of vibranium, an indestructible material that thus far has only been found in Wakanda. In the comics, the Antarctic vibranium functions a little differently, acting as a kind of anti-metal that melts other metals.

Now that I think about it, that sounds like something that might be useful against Magneto…

There are a lot of rumors out there about how exactly the Savage Land could be worked into The Eternals, and therefore the MCU. One of the more interesting ones is that Marvel is planning to develop a full-blown Savage Land film in Phase 6, which would feature the X-Men villains Sauron and Mister Sinister.

The X-Men in Captain Marvel 2?

And it’s here where we get a better idea of how the MCU could introduce the X-Men. With an X-Men benchmark like the Savage Land potentially geared for Phase 6, that would mean we’d probably get at least one other X-Men film beforehand so we’re familiar with the team before they venture into such a place; say, in Phase 5.

Phase 5 also happens to be when Captain Marvel 2 is scheduled to release, on July 8, 2022. And it’s been rumored that this movie could function as a crossover event comparable to Captain America: Civil War, which was technically a Captain America movie but still had Avengers running around all over it. And that’s really exciting, because one iconic member of the X-Men has an origin story that is directly tied to Captain Marvel: Rogue.

Rogue is known mostly as a good guy, but in her first comic appearance in Avengers Annual #10, she is actually a villain who absorbs Captain Marvel’s powers and memories before dumping her body and leaving her a powerless amnesiac. With the help of Professor X, Carol eventually gets her memories back…but it isn’t until much later that she regains enough power to confront Rogue directly. By then, Rogue has redeemed herself and become a vital part of the X-Men, however, so the situation is complicated.

Given that Captain Marvel 2 comes along right around the time Marvel should really be digging into the X-Men, this seems like a golden opportunity to introduce this longstanding feud on the big screen, and lend some serious gravity to the introduction of several key mutants, including Rogue and Mystique.

It would also make sense for Captain Marvel, aka Carol Danvers, to go through something like this in the films, since she’s basically an unstoppable Super Saiyan who can go toe to toe with even Thanos. Taking away her powers and forcing her to find a new way forward seems like a really natural progression for the character.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

X-Men Origins

But that begs the question: where are these mutants coming from? If there are mutants like Rogue running around, how have we never heard of them? Will they arrive all at once, or will they have “been there all along,” similar to the Eternals?

We don’t have much in the way of answers to this question: Disney is silent and the rumor mill is dry. But with the inclusion of places like Madripoor and the Savage Land, it stands to reason that mutants could have been in hiding somewhere. After all, a major theme of the X-Men comics is that mutants aren’t accepted by many people, so they’re used to laying low.

The biggest hole in this theory is that it’s hard to imagine all those superpowered people sitting out the war with Thanos. But hey…stranger things have happened. Maybe they had some sort of non-participation agreement. Or binding studio contract…

There are other possibilities. In the comics, the origin of the mutant gene has been tied to the Celestials, a group of extremely old entities with mysterious powers. We’ve already met one in the MCU: Peter Quill’s father Ego, from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. It’s possible that Marvel could use these beings to introduce the X-Men. After all, the Celestials have already been confirmed to play a part in The Eternals movie, which starts to make this theory look pretty compelling.

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 24: (L-R) Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, and Salma Hayek of ‘The Eternals’ took part today in the Walt Disney Studios presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2019 in Anaheim, Calif. ‘The Eternals’ will be released in U.S. theaters on November 6, 2020. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

And of course, Marvel could always go weird with and introduce the X-Men in a way we haven’t thought of. Maybe there was some fallout from all the Infinity Stone madness of Endgame; perhaps it warps reality or alters the human gene pool, creating mutants. Or maybe some people came back from the Snap with powers they didn’t have before it happened. The possibilities are endless.

That brings us to the last and most important piece of this puzzle: Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch. In the comics, Wanda is a mutant, but because of rights issues, the MCU hasn’t been able to call her one, at least not yet.

She also has the power to warp reality, and it looks like we’re going to see that in action in her upcoming Disney+ series WandaVision. As usual, we don’t have all the details, but this show looks like it takes place at least partly in some kind of 1950s suburbia world. We’re guessing Wanda uses her powers, intentionally or unintentionally, to warp reality so she can live with her dead robot boyfriend Vision. But what consequences will come from warping reality like this?

The plot thickens when you consider that one of Marvel’s biggest comic book events for the X-Men is tied directly to the Scarlet Witch. In House of M, Wanda has a mental break after going through an excessive amount of traumas (some of which, like the deaths of Vision and Quicksilver, have already happened in the MCU). She creates an alternate world where dreams come true. Magneto (her father in the comics) controls the government and mutants generally have great lives. Wanda’s dead brother and children come back to life.

It all ends very badly, with people realizing that they’re trapped in an alternate reality Wanda has created and fighting back. The resulting conflict leads the Scarlet Witch to utter her iconic phrase: “no more mutants.”

Image: WandaVision/Disney+

What follows can only be compared to the Snap from Infinity War. Mutants are returned to the real world, but the vast majority of them have no powers, and apparently no way to regain them. Afterward, Cyclops leads the few who retained their powers to form an island sanctuary for mutants called Utopia.

This hugely influential X-Men story also leads to one of the most powerful crossovers in recent comic history: Avengers vs. X-Men. Upon discovering that a mutant child named Hope — the first mutant born since House of M — poses an unconscious danger to the rest of the world, Captain America and the Avengers go to Utopia to place her under custody.

Cyclops meets Cap at the shore. Optic blasts are fired…and a battle royale to rival anything that has happened thus far in the MCU ensues. After the dust settles, people have died and the status quo is changed for good.

Let’s just be real here. That sounds like an awesome movie — or set of movies, if House of M and Avengers vs. X-Men could be done as a two-parter like Infinity War and Endgame.

So let’s imagine that Marvel and Disney pull off this amazing transition. The X-Men are a fully fledged part of the MCU, and there is much rejoicing. Over the course of the next 10 years, Marvel spins another epic saga that puts millions of butts in seats and bajillions of dollars to the bank.

What are you most looking forward to? What characters do you most want to see? Let’s hash it out in the comments!

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