Now that Wandavision is underway, we’re beginning our time in phase 4. Which I like to think of as the beginning of the second saga in the MCU. With the ending of Thanos in Endgame and its following epilogue in the second Spider-Man movie, the franchise is taking a different approach going forward, integrating a lot of its new characters and events into television series.
Although it might just appear that way to me due to the movie industry all but being on hold due to the ongoing global pandemic.
With all the new stories and characters taking centre stage, it’s not really surprising that Youtubers and Podcasters are all falling over one another to try and predict how the biggest glaring hole in the original Marvel universe is going to manage to squeeze its way into the MCU: The X-Men.
Especially with the current big talking point of Wandavision kicking off this new phase. Wanda Maximoff has been a presence in the MCU for a while now and she is the bridge character between this MCU and any possible introduction of Mutants down the road. Being the daughter of Magneto in the comic book version of the story and all that.
While there are no doubt mutants will be making their arrival in the MCU at some point in the future, I really struggle to imagine how they’re going to slot into an already pretty well fleshed out world at this point. The History of the MCU is pretty well established, to think that there were hundreds, if not thousands of mutants out there and we never knew about them is an increasingly difficult sell the longer they put it off.
I mean, they’re going to have to somehow explain away the Eternals sudden appearance in the world after keeping out of things before now in their movie first. Doing the same thing again with Mutants might feel like they’re just telling the same story again if they have always been among us and only just now started revealing themselves.
The way I see it, there are three major solutions to how the MCU could insert mutants into the MCU. All of which have their own little problems that can really undermine the historic importance and underlying message mutants have always carried within the Marvel story since their conception.
The First Solution – They’ve always been among us
As I already mentioned, with all the threats the Earth has had to face in the 13 years since Tony Stark announced that he was Iron Man, the odds that none of the mutants hiding in the world had come forward and joined the fight in any capacity seems highly improbable. Not only that, you’ve got secret organisations like Hydra, Shield and now Sword all operating and keeping track of super-powered individuals together with the Sokovia Accords.
It seems next to impossible that, if there were thousands of mutants out there, none of them would have stepped forward or would have been discovered by the many clandestine organisations that have been within the story so far. It undermines the integrity of the story Disney are trying to tell. Plus, if we’ve got to buy that the Eternals have been hidden amongst us for 7000 years and only decide to reveal themselves after the Blip, then expecting the audience to buy it again for Mutants a stretch too far.
I feel like this solution is pretty unlikely because Kevin Feige and Disney seem to give their audience a little more credit than to allow this to fly.
The Second Solution – They are created
With Wandavision starting to delve into Wanda’s reality-bending powers and the surprise introduction of Evan Peters as a “recast” Pietro Maximoff, a more likely solution to the problem is that Mutants are brought into being through some event. Akin to the Terrigenisis Bomb being set off in the comic books, spreading Terrigen Mist across the planet and activating all of the dormant Inhumans.
Although, while that method might fly for Inhumans, I feel like that kind of solution would utterly undermine the very core of what mutants have come to represent throughout the years since their creation in the early 60s. Racism and prejudice have been an integral part to the dynamic between mutants and the rest of humanity for almost all of the X-Men’s existence. Which leans heavily into Magneto’s core values and drives as a villain for the series.
A story I feel was very effectively told in the movie X-Men: First Class. The analogy to concentration camps in World War II is about as powerful a point of comparison as you can get in fiction.
So a solution in which hundreds of people in the world suddenly have their X-Gene activated will have to create a race of Mutants who don’t have this long history of dealing with discrimination, it kind of loses some key element of the core of what the X-Men story is. And given Marvel’s recent track record in how they’re telling their modern stories, there is no way they won’t have heavy overtones of discrimination running through their modern X-Men reboot.
They’ll have to change the core dynamic and shared history of both Xaver and Magneto, modernising is so that their struggle becomes something more contemporary. Which is an idea I’ve seen floated around previously by Bloggers and Podcasters, the most notable example being of making both of these characters black.
It’s a perfect, modern issue that applies to the core message of the X-Men story. But it’s an issue that is so modern that it’s going to be very raw in a significant portion of the fanbase. People kicked up a stink about Zendaya playing “MJ” in the MCU’s Spider-Man, imagine the storm they’d have to weather if they made Xaver and Magneto black.
It does seem like the only real viable solution to me though… I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of the X-Men. They’re okay, but I always felt like they took place in a pocket separate from the rest of the Marvel story in the comics. One of the core elements of their story is that people are distrustful of them because they’re different. But in a world where there are a ton of people who have superpowers from accidents or experiments, they don’t seem beholden to the same public hate as those with an X-Gene.
It always felt off to me. In a world where the Hulk, Wanda Maximoff and Carol Danvers seem to be household names, it seems difficult to swallow that the general populous would start hating a certain subset of superpowered people when they were previously okay with the ones they had before. People love the Hulk in the world of the MCU, despite all of his rampages in the past.
I feel like this angle of prejudice is vital to telling a modern story about the X-Men in the MCU. But between it’s long history already and how First Class told that story so well already, I feel like Disney might have to find their own, new take on Mutants for the movies. Moving away from their entrenched origins starting in World War II.
Or they could just use the third solution…
The Third Solution – Multiverse
Between Wanda’s newly established powers in Wandavision and the upcoming Doctor Strange Sequel: Multiverse of Madness, the marvel cinematic multiverse is perfectly poised to bypass all of these problems by just bringing in established characters from parallel realities. Then going back and telling their solo movies within their own universe, free of all the baggage that comes from a decade of storytelling.
This has always been my preferred way of the Fantastic Four finding their way into the MCU, but the way things stand, it kind of feels like realities colliding being the best way for the X-Men to find their way into the mainline MCU as well. There are inherent problems that come from this too. It could easily become a crutch, in which the MCU throws a ton of new elements into the mix without having to worry about how they slot into the continuity of the franchise.
It’s a less perfect solution than with the Fantastic Four, whose reality hopping is a big part of their stories anyway, but feels a little less neat with the X-Men. Except for Wanda of course who is the bridge characters between these two worlds that are yet to interact with one another. There’s no doubt that the conclusion of Wandavsion, combined with the Doctor Strange sequel is going to have one or two major events with major ramifications that will ripple through the future of the MCU.
The X-Men finding their way into he MCU might just be one of them.
It’ll be certainly interesting to see how Disney manage to slot this race of superpowered individuals into the MCU. And while Wandavision has put the X-Men at the forefront of everyone’s minds again, I still think they’re a ways off. With all the new Disney Plus series to come out before then, there are a lot of new characters to think about before we even get to the X-Men.
Plus, I feel like the Fantastic Four are a more pressing matter in the creative minds behind the MCU right now. While I certainly think it’s too late to introduce the X-Men into the MCU in their classic iteration, it would also end up being a reductive move, considering how well I feel First Class already told that story. In the end, I trust Feige and his team to make a newer, more contemporary take on the plight of the mutants.
And if that ruffles a few feather, all the better, because that’s really what the X-Men were always about.