When introducing the X-Men into the MCU, there is more than one way to skin this cat, and it doesn’t have to necessarily spit in the face of the source material.
Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios can try to downplay the importance of the X-Men movie franchise all they want. Whether they are willing to admit it publicly or not, by now, they are waist deep in ideas to shoehorn them into the current Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) landscape. It wasn’t too long ago that they got their hooks into Spider-Man. Within a year, the wall-crawler popped up in Captain America: Civil War, and then his own movie not long after that. And he’s still not exclusively Marvel’s. The X-Men and Fantastic Four are now 100% owned by Marvel Studios and Disney after the 21st Century Fox purchase. While they might not be getting their own features next year, I’m certain Feige will be peppering upcoming movies with Easter Eggs meant to help usher them into the fold. The only question that remains is, how exactly will they do it?
The MCU is more than ten-years-old and 20 films rich, and there’s never been a mention of the X-Gene, much less an X-Man. If we look to the books, the source material in which this empire is built upon, we’ll find instances where characters from other realities have been consolidated into the main universe. Using them as a template, they have three logical options that stand out; Introduce mutants as a new concept; alter the existing universe or people, or merge the current one with another like that of Fox-verse. Today, we’ll explore all three possibilities and how each will affect the existing MCU landscape.
The Ultimate X-Men – Mutants as a New Concept
Anyone that’s even a little bit acquainted with the Ultimate X-Men should know that the origin of the X-Gene is vastly different than what we’re used to in the main Marvel Universe (616).
Instead of evolving over eons after being introduced into the human gene-pool by the Celestials, the X-Gene in the Ultimate Universe (1610) is for the most part man-made. In the Ultimate Universe, it all started with Wolverine (of course). As usual, a group of scientists were attempting to duplicate or improve upon the Super Soldier program that created Captain America. Instead of developing a serum, they began experimenting with genetics. Having survived numerous injuries that would have sent just about anyone else to an early grave, Wolverine (known then as James “Lucky Jim” Howlett) became a prime candidate for test trials.
The experiments were successful in granting him his accelerated healing factor and he was dubbed “Mutant Zero,” not dissimilar from being labeled “patient zero” in an outbreak situation. Though it’s never specifically said I’m assuming the scientist used some sort of gene therapy by way of a retrovirus because the process spread to the general population like an illness. Instead of making people sick, they developed mutant abilities, though I wouldn’t doubt that there were a few casualties along the way. With only a very small percentage of the populace actually gaining abilities, the mutant population developed similarly to how it did in the 616 universe. Even the timelines match up as the experiments on Wolverine took place during the World War II era.
If the MCU were to go this route, they’d have to change a few things. The MCU is already established so retconning these experiments into existence during the 1930s would be utter nonsense. However, what they could do is have the trials take place in the present day. As a compromise, let’s say they began in the 1930s but the process was unearthed and reinitiated in the present. It could possibly even be the building blocks that would allow Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver to gain their abilities during Avengers: Age of Ultron. If used today, retrovirus would have to be infinitely more aggressive and effective for it to matter. It’d have to basically ravage whatever country that allows it to escape and spread rapidly and uncontrollably worldwide.
On another note, if they insist on using Professor-X and Magneto as different sides of the classic “mutant argument,” which should present itself quickly- then they’d also have to address how to set up their characters. There’s nothing in Professor-X’s past that needs to be really adjusted for him to work in the present day. On the other hand, Magneto’s story would have to be fundamentally altered. Much of, if not all, Magneto’s character motivation is based upon his experiences with being a Holocaust survivor. That was fine when the character originally debuted as an adult in the 1960s, but to insert him into the MCU would mean it’s at least 2023. Today, the youngest Holocaust survivors are in their 80s and some barely remember it because of how young they were when it happened. Chances are, if Marvel goes this route, the MCU Magneto may not be German, or even of European descent at all. Sadly, during the past 50 years, there are have been quite a few genocides and instances of oppressed people. Marvel Studios may tap one of these as the driving force behind the new Master of Magnetism.
As for the rest of the world, the retrovirus would have to infect people and grant random abilities, not just those going through puberty, but any age. This would mean a small percentage (and I really mean small– even .001% of 7-billion people are still around 7-million!) of children, teenagers, and adults of all stages across the world would suddenly have powers. Something like this would throw governments into chaos and tip the balance of power throughout the world, almost overnight (depending on how the virus spreads). Something like this coupled with a world still reeling from the snap would create a toxic situation where most normal humans would look at any super-powered beings with hate and distrust. This could set into play stories like X-Tinction Agenda and Operation: Zero Tolerance. Ambitious, but not a bad foundation to start from. Even if it was kind of done with the Inhumans in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series and in the books following the events of Infinity.
House of M – Altering the Existing Reality
In 2005, Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis wrote a story where the entire world had been altered by the mentally disturbed Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff). During a complete mental breakdown, Wanda, having the power to reshape reality, warped the entire world into the House of M reality. The mutants there weren’t hated, feared, and hunted by normal humans and governments. For the most part, they were 1st class citizens and looked at as celebrities across the globe.
Wanda’s feat, while incredible, was not perfect. Slowly, people began to realize something was wrong with the world. The heroes that regained their memories would take steps to return the world to its proper state and rose up against the ruling party, that being Magneto’s regime, but it all concluded when Wanda uttered the words “No more mutants.” That resulted in the world’s mutant population being reduced to less than three-hundred (from millions). This is commonly referred to as ‘the Decimation.’ Yes, the X-Men used it before the MCU apprehended it for describing the results of Thanos’ snap.
This is the potential of the Scarlet Witch, a character that happens to currently exist within the MCU. However, the mutant Decimation is the exact opposite effect of what Marvel Studios would desire if they were entertaining the idea of populating their current world with X-Men characters. However, the fact that they have under their control the key person responsible for House of M is a big advantage. In the books, it’s loss and despair that pushed the Scarlet Witch to lose control of her sanity, and ultimately her powers. So far in the MCU, she’s lost her twin brother Quicksilver, been responsible for the deaths of several innocents and watched helplessly as her lover Vision was murdered by Thanos. How much more would it take push her over the edge?
One would argue that she hasn’t displayed anywhere near enough power to do such a thing. So far, outside of her mind-altering spirit-fingers in Avengers: Age of Ultron, she’s only used a form of telekinesis. But she’s not a mutant. Her powers were unleashed by being exposed to an Infinity Gem. It’s possible that her powers are only limited by her own imagination or stress level. If that’s the case, then at her disposal are powers that scale beyond cosmic levels. More than enough to alter the fabric of reality on a mere planetary scale.
So, how can this affect the MCU? Well, I’ll tell you. Upcoming on the Disney+ streaming service is the series WandaVision. Reportedly, it takes place in something of a 1950s setting. Now that may not seem like much, but if you consider that she exists in a 2017 or later world and Vision is dead; then there’s something to talk about here. Either the series occurs between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, or Wanda has already begun to manipulate the world around her. I say this because, how else is WandaVision set in the 1950s and Vision still alive? Even if it is a prequel to Vision’s death, it’s more likely she’s either messing with the world or she’s suffering from some sort of delusion.
Either process would set her on a path where she’d be primed to, or already is messing with reality. Perhaps something happens that results in a small portion of the world’s population going through much of the same process that she and her brother went through. In a way, it would make her “Mutant Zero,” and no, she wouldn’t be creating mutants, but reproducing the means in which she got her powers in others. Only on a global scale. Who’s to say Marvel Studios won’t abandon the concept of the X-Gene altogether? I think it’d be asking too much to have her just create hundreds or thousands of people out of thin air with established histories. But alter the same amount of already existing individuals? Sure, I could dig that.
Secret Wars – Merging of Alternate Realities
The 2015 company crossover, Secret Wars, was set into motion during Jonathan Hickman’s run on the Avengers. Because of the mad machinations of the interdimensional-cosmically powered race of Beyonders, the Marvel multiverse had begun to collapse in upon itself. In an attempt to save what was left, Doctor Doom, Dr. Strange, and the Molecule Man entered into a pact which ultimately ended with Doom taking control of the vacated power of all the Beyonders. He became known as God Emperor Doom and used his near infinite powers to create a patchwork-world of dozens or hundreds of alternate realities. He then merged them into a singular world that would come to be known as simply Battleworld. Heroes doing what heroes do, the ones that remembered what the world was, banded together and overthrew God Doom. With Doom dethroned, the Fantastic Four, namely, Reed, Sue, Franklin, Val, and the Future Foundation, began to recreate and seed the new multiverse.
Now, what does this have to do with the X-Men entering the MCU? After the events of Secret Wars, not only did the 616 characters return to a new iteration of their universe (the 8th btw), denizens from other realities also crossed over. Characters such as Miles Morales (Earth 1610), Hyperion (715), James Hudson (1610) and many more found themselves alive and well within the main Marvel Universe. The MCU just went through, not one, but four snaps by the Infinity Gauntlet. Two of which came from a Gauntlet that didn’t even originate from the main MCU universe or current timeline! Going by what we’re being told from the Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer, the snap may have damaged the walls that separate the various realities from one another within the multiverse.
I’m not saying it’s happened already but if Marvel wanted to get creative, the next phase could be a build up to a Secret Wars-like story where the universe essentially must be reset. If this happens, perhaps when it all comes back together it’s not in its original format? Perhaps the universe that we’re accustomed to is radically warped, and suddenly, the MCU would have more than just one group of superhumans on earth (well, more than two if you count the Inhumans, which obviously Kevin Feige does not)? It would certainly line-up with Feige’s ridiculous 5-year or more timeline he set for the introduction of mutants. In this scenario, there would be no need to create back stories or construct origins. Mind you, this is quite possibly the least imaginative way of introducing the X-Men, but it is the quickest way to hit the ground running with them. As haphazardly as this could be handled, this is a tried and true method on consolidating conflicting universes. DC has done it like half a dozen times with various degrees of success.
So which way do you think the X-Men will enter the MCU? Don’t see it here? Little bit everything? Let us know in the comments.