The MCU’s version of the X-Men is on its way, but which members will make it a success?
There’s been enough social media drum beating and articles out there for just about everyone in the known world to know that Disney bought out 21st Century Fox. They also know that along with a huge catalog of other franchises, the X-Men movie rights are also going to be under the same roof as the rest of the MCU. Nothing new there. Eventually, the characters will make their way back onto the big screen under the new studio. It does beg the question who of the X-Men will make the transition. I wasn’t going to originally get into this. I’m sure it’s been covered a dozen times. Heck, I’ve already talked about which villains would be a good fit along with what storylines they should cover. But you know what? Since we’re here, we might as well get into it. Here are the 10 best X-Men universe characters for the MCU. (Related: The Top 10 X-Men Movies Disney Should Make for the Marvel Cinematic Universe)
There is no way that anything the MCU puts out today will be a carbon copy of the source material. My list isn’t made of wishes and hopes, it’s making the best out of this situation. The reality is- these movies are going to have diversity pushes, gender and sexuality politics and every other kind of social justice under the sun. It’s the world we live in, unfortunately. I’m no fan of having these practices pushed above narrative, but I’m not silly enough to think it’s going to go away (anytime soon).
The first lady of the X-Men arguably deserves a spot on this list, but I’ll have to insist on keeping her towards the back of the pack. She’s been horribly misused and especially overexposed thanks to two less than stellar iterations of the Dark Phoenix Saga. Seriously, did we need that twice within a decade of each other? Jean’s more than likely going to be included. Possibly even close to the version we’re seeing in the books. A more take-charge authority figure that inspires her fellow X-Men to fall in line, despite having been dead for years. Jean was absent for all their trials and tribulations. Not her fault at all, but not there is… not there.
Eric Lehnsherr, or Max Eisenhardt, or Magnus- whatever he’s calling himself has been to the X-Men what the Joker has been to Batman since their debut. He’s also been an ally and even one of their own. As of late, more the latter. Magneto is also one of the strongest mutants in all existence with only one person even coming close, his daughter Polaris (and some punk Inhuman-kid). In the books, he is (or used to be) the father of the twins Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. This obviously gives him an easy connection to the existing MCU fabric.
So… why’s Magneto, one of, if not the best X-Men villain to date not actually making the cut? Because he’s been done to death in the franchise thus far. There are a few problems with introducing him into the MCU as anything resembling the character we know. The main motivation of him has been in his experiences with the Holocaust. He’d just be too darned old to function as a villain today, much less several years from now and beyond. The only other option would be to de-age him somehow, which was done in the books. But do we need to go there, like right off the bat? Fact- the X-Men do not need Magneto to function. At least not at the beginning. He can wait.
Let’s face it. She’s been in, what? Three X-Men films played by three different actresses with a combined total of about 6 lines of dialogue? She hasn’t been done justice yet, but at least they tried in X-Men Apocalypse. The bad news is, the movie wasn’t all that great. Not as bad as people make it out to be, but not a good follow up for Days of Future Past or precursor to Logan. She’s youthful and would act as great a point of view character similar to what she was in X-Men: The Animated Series.
Another bonus is her flashy, screen-friendly powers. Addressing our concerns about the necessity to check diversity and gender boxes, she’s got a colorful background and ancestral make-up. Jubilee is traditionally an Asian-American, and obviously, a young woman. She’s recognizable enough to appeal to older fans but not so old that younger viewers aren’t alienated. What the WB did with X-Men: Evolution was great to explore throughout a couple of seasons, but I think Apocalypse proved that audiences aren’t that into watching the X-Men go through teenaged growing pains.
9. Wolverine/ X-23
This is a tough one. A lot of you (and even a part of me) are going to disagree with me on this, but Wolverine is outside of my top-five for a reason. Disney is by no means going to pass on inserting Wolverine into their mythos. They might even have the horrible idea of including him into their Avengers movies (Wolverine has no business being an Avenger). There are ways to do this, while it might not be popular, but maybe a better method than, let’s say, what’s traditional.
Here’s why this is section is entitled “Wolverine/ X-23”. Instead of having Wolverine as a full-time member, I’d have him be older and less interested in being a day-to-day X-Man. Here’s where I’ll get some push back. I recommend to instead use X-23. How, do you ask? Assuming the MCU will be using the Ultimate Marvel introduction to mutants, it stands to reason that Wolverine will be mutant-zero and subject to a lot of experimentation. Including cloning. Wolverine could be an X-Man to start, but in a movie or two, be replaced by Laura. It’d give the franchise another easy box check.
Every team needs a brain and there aren’t many in the Marvel universe better than those of Hank McCoy. Beast may have missed out on the first two X-Men movies but after being brought to life by Kelsey Grammar (quite possibly the best casting ever), he became a mainstay within the series. He made appearances in First Class, Days of Future Past, Apocalypse and finally Dark Phoenix. There was even a rumor of him getting his own solo movie. Not sure if that would have been a great idea with guys like Simon Kinberg in control of the franchise.
As I said before, he plays a pivotal role essential to a sci-fi action drama franchise’s plot to move forward. Especially one connected to the MCU which already relies heavily on techno-babel to resolve their storylines. He’d fit in well with super geeks like Suri, Pym, and Banner. More so in the absence of Stark. I suspect that when the X-Men first come onto the stage they may be at odds with the rest of the MCU. Beast’s mind will be needed to combat those they’ll be up against.
Casting is always a challenge for the comic book genre. Producers have to decide whether they are going to embrace the source material or just blow it all to hell and try something new. Sometimes they go spot on with combos such as Ryan Reynolds and Deadpool, or complete head-scratchers like they did with Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine casting. Both worked out, luckily and are probably the best bit of work in the genre so far. Being a Gambit-fan, I’m glad to say… this isn’t so much of a problem for him.
Currently, actors wanting to play the Cajun is in no short supply. Taylor Kitsch is still basically in his physical prime and could take the role back on. Then there’s the self-proclaimed Gambit-superfan Channing Tatum who has yet to throw in the towel on playing or producing a Gambit movie. I doubt Disney is going to tap either actor due to their advancing ages and prior connections to the role. However, there are more than enough young men that look the part in Hollywood. Besides, he consistently ranks in the top 5 most loved X-Men among normies. Put those butts in seats, Disney.
Utilizing out of time characters would normally be difficult. That is until the biggest Marvel movie to date revolved around the concept. I think Kevin Fiege is going to try his best to separate his version of the X-Men from anything we’ve seen thus far. They’ll more than likely be introduced differently and even appear differently. I don’t doubt it’ll be unlike anything we’ve seen on screen or directly in the books (I still think they’ll be going the Ultimate X-Men route). So, now we’re back to checking boxes. I don’t personally care about “seeing myself” in fictional characters, but the big wigs are obsessed with making Twitter normies happy.
Up to this point (and beyond, actually), this list has been pretty white. Traditionally, no, there haven’t been many non-Caucasian X-Men on normal rosters. Yeah, occasionally we’d get a Cecelia Reyes, Forge, Neal Shaara, or not-really-Asian-Psylocke on a team, and I was fracking fine with that. That ish isn’t not going to fly in this super-sensitive climate. If they are going to need some color other than Storm and Jubes, then Bishop is a great option. More so, if they want to keep the sci-fi feels on high for the franchise. Fan-cast for me? Jamie Foxx, Mike Colter (Luke Cage), or Michael Jai White.
Let’s face it folks- Fox never quite got Rogue right. I blame that more on the people steering the boat rather than Anna Paquin. I love what Bryan Singer did with X-Men, X2 and Days of Future Past, but he failed at allowing the X-Men to be more than movies based on comics. He and several others appeared to be terrified to let these characters come to life. Watching them fail to capture the essence of Rogue after seeing what the MCU did with lesser characters such as Iron Man, Thor, Doctor Strange, and later the Guardians of the Galaxy- was heartbreaking.
Though they weren’t part of her original powerset, Rogue’s is hilariously best known for being a flying brick. Both in the books and her most famous role in XTAS, that was her modus operandi. Those powers are so necessary for the character that after she lost them, Marvel eventually sacrificed the Avenger Wonder Man to replace them. X-Men fans are figuratively drooling at the chance of seeing the Rogue we deserve flying across the MCU screen. Hey, look at it this way, perhaps we’ll get to witness Captain Marvel go down? Because you know that ain’t happening at the hands of some icky man.
4. Professor X
Magneto and Wolverine are important, but you know who’s more vital? The man who brought the whole thing together. Growing up with his powers, Charles thought he was alone in the world. Unfortunately, that assumption was proven wrong in the worst way possible. His first interaction with another mutant came by way of the demonic Shadow King. The next was his friend Eric. While the two didn’t start as enemies, that changed as their worldviews and life experiences were polar opposites.
After only coming into contact with those two, he thought it necessary to create the X-Men to both guide young mutants and protect others from those of his kind. Professor Charles Xavier is absolutely necessary to the set up of the X-Men. I know it’s going to be hard for today’s Hollywood to accept a comic book movie with a straight, white, male at the center. With the way the Marvel Studios executive Victoria Alonso prattles on, Xavier might not even make it to the MCU stage, along with the suffix “X-Men.” At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if they supplanted Xavier with Moira MacTaggert.
Wait a minute…
Before Brian Michael Bendis’ clumsy ‘story’ of self-discovery, there’s no way Iceman would have made it this high on this list. Probably wouldn’t have been on it at all, to be honest. He’s just not all that important to the X-Men mythos. He’s been around. That’s basically it. In the past 30-years, he’s probably had two large roles in the books, but neither was important to any other character’s story. In other words, Robert Drake never really mattered all that much.
That all changed in 2015 when the out-of-time teenaged version of Bobby was revealed to be gay when the similarly teenaged version of Jean Grey outed him. This, of course, meant the adult version of Bobby was also gay and has somehow been faking his heterosexuality for decades. Despite the existence of narration boxes and thought bubbles. This revelation is the only aspect of the character recent writers seem to care about. Which I don’t denigrate the fact. It’s led to Iceman’s constant inclusion in storylines and not one, but two solo series.
Do I even have to go into why having a strong woman of color will be essential to keep the pitchforks and fires away from this project? No? Good. This’ll be short then. Storm is by far one of the most important and interesting characters to come out of the X-Men franchise and deserves a spot in every endeavor. I believe her usage in the first three movies was underwhelming, and the last two were below average. The MCU version of Storm can be nothing but an improvement. There’s also her comic connection to the Black Panther, but unlike some shippers, I realize that that’s probably not going to work. Because, you know… He’s dating Nakia.
Storm is half Kenyan, half African-American, born in Harlem and grew up in Cairo and West Africa. Perhaps, Marvel can start by hiring an actress with the appropriate skin tone. Just a thought.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, most of this list (like 85 to 90% of it) is focused around the X-Men animated show cast from the 90s. It’s by the far the most impactful and important piece of X-Men franchise history. That show had more eyes on it during its 5 seasons than all of its days on the comic pages. Those eyes ranged from barely talking to full-grown adults. It started in ’93 which means most of those active fans are now the prime audience of the franchise, many with children of their own. In some cases, grandchildren.
With all that said, Cyclops’ usage in the X-Men movies thus far has been even worse than Rogue. At least she had a couple of storylines to follow. From the beginning, he was nothing more than Wolverine’s verbal punching bag that never showed a sign of any leadership ability. In the books, he’s on par with the likes of Captain America and a better tactician than most heroes twice his age. It’s going to be hard to sneak past his being straight and white, but I think getting a worthwhile Cyclops for the first time is worth a couple of disgruntled Tweets. Besides, when they finally get around to using Mister Sinister, he’s going to be very important.
I love this list but I doubt it’s going to be close to what we get. It’s just what I recommend as being a life-long fan of the franchise. I’m sure they’ll shoehorn in a bunch of unnecessary characters more in line with their agendas. They’ll twist, race, and gender-bend half of the cast to suit their checkbox needs. The X-Men are as solid as they come. Being what people think they should be, doesn’t matter more than them being what people know them to be. But what do I know? I’m just a fan.
Yes, I borrowed that last part from the YouTuber you’re thinking about. Cheers.