How the original X-Men cast could join the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Disney will reboot the X-Men sooner or later. Could they do it with the original cast? Thanks to X-Men: Days of Future Past, there’s a way it could work.

With Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox, we finally have the opportunity to see the X-Men integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Avengers: Endgame in the rearview, this might just be the most anticipated superhero movie moment on the horizon.

Marvel Studios faces a unique challenge with the X-Men, though. Over the course of 11 X-Movies with Fox (13 if you count the two Deadpool movies), people have become familiar with certain actors in these roles, and they leave big shoes to fill. No matter who they get to play the new Wolverine, for example, it’s inevitable that he’s going to compared to Hugh Jackman. And no matter how you slice it, it’s hard to imagine a better Charles Xavier than Sir Patrick Stewart.

SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 20: Actors Hugh Jackman (L) and Patrick Stewart speak at the 20th Century Fox “X-Men: Days of Future Past” panel during Comic-Con International 2013 at San Diego Convention Center on July 20, 2013 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The movies themselves will also be hard to top, especially when taken together. Fox eventually brought in new actors to play some of these characters — Sophie Turner replaced Famke Janssen as Jean Grey, for example — but it didn’t have to reboot the series, as happened with Spider-Man or The Fantastic Four; Fox just used time travel and alternate dimensions to thread all the films together, making one of the largest  superhero movie franchises outside of the MCU. This isn’t an easy legacy to surpass, regardless of how good the new X-Men movies might be.

But what if there was a way for Marvel to preserve that continuity and bring back the cast of the original X-Men for its new movies? Can the story of the original films carry over into the MCU?

Turns out, there’s actually a way it could work, given what’s been laid out in the X-Movies so far. Strap in, because we’re going on a trip to theory-land. SPOILERS for some of the X-Men movies follow below!

The key to this idea lies in X-Men: Days of Future Past, arguably the seminal work of the X-Movies. Written and directed by veteran X-Men filmmaker Brian Singer, Days of Future Past featured the cast from the original trilogy acting alongside their younger counterparts from X-Men: First Class, throwing them into a twisty time-travel caper that was nothing short of epic.

In the film, the world the older X-Men inhabit has been all but destroyed by giant purple robots called Sentinels. In a last ditch effort to save the world, the few surviving mutants hatch a plan to send Wolverine back in time to the critical moment where the crisis could have been averted: the 1973 assassination of the Sentinels’ creator, Dr. Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). To pull it off, Logan enlists the cast from the First Class generation of movies and is forced to square off against a young Magneto (Michael Fassbender).

Things start to get interesting at the end of Days of Future Past. Having averted doomsday, the younger generation of mutants continue on in their own separate timeline, which culminated with last year’s Dark Phoenix. Meanwhile, the dystopian future which Wolverine came from is erased. Instead, when his mission is fulfilled and his mind travels back to his body, he wakes up in a restored X-Mansion. Students run through the halls and the original cast of characters is reunited. Days of Future Past was meant to give our original heroes a well-deserved sendoff and pass the torch to a new group.

It’s worth noting, however, that the movie never explicitly states what year Wolverine’s happy epilogue takes place in. But when Logan went back in time, it was 2023. Which is also, conveniently enough, the year that Avengers: Endgame takes place.

Marvel Studios’ AVENGERS: ENDGAME..L to R: Captain America (Chris Evans) in b/g Hulk (Mark Ruffalo, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

What if one of the first things that Professor Xavier realized when he took stock of this new, brighter world was that there are suddenly many more heroes, people who aren’t mutants but who still have powers? Perhaps time and space correct themselves, and both the reversal of Thanos’ Snap and the X-Men’s averted apocalyptic future are smashed together on the cosmic tapestry, creating a new timeline housing both worlds.

Really, there are any number of ways that Marvel could spin an explanation to make this idea work, and for the sake of watching Hugh Jackman hang out in Wakanda or Benedict Cumberbatch verbally spar with Ian McKellan, we would buy them all with a side of popcorn.

It would be a way to bring back all of the original cast, including Famke Janssen as Jean Grey and James Marsden as Cyclops, who were spared their fate in the much maligned X-Men: The Last Stand by Wolverine’s time-travel trick. The ages of the cast wouldn’t be a problem either, since the story would be picking up much later in the X-Men’s lives. Even better, it would bring an already extremely seasoned group of X-Men into the MCU, making them a force to be reckoned with on par with the Avengers right out of the gate.

Obviously, bringing back the cast of the original movies would require no small amount of hoop jumping and coordination, probably too much to hope for, realistically. But it’s still fun to dream about, and surprisingly feasible considering how complex the Fox run of X-Men movies was.

What do you think? Could it work? Would you even want it to if it could? Or are the days of future past best left in the past?

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