What, exactly, does the future hold for the Children of the Atom? That’s something we’ve all been trying to figure out for a while now, ever since the news broke that Disney and Fox would be merging, thus bringing the mutant misfits under the same roof as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the merger itself is still a work in progress, there’s a lot that we don’t yet know, though it is looking increasingly like ‘Dark Phoenix‘ and ‘The New Mutants‘ – both due later this year – will be the last films released under the banner Fox’s ‘X-Men’ franchise. It’s a bittersweet turn of events, really. On the one hand, this series has been running for nearly twenty years and is partly responsible for kicking off the current superhero movie trend. But on the other hand, as sad as we might be to see the venerable saga come to a close, it’s doing so in the name of something fans have hoped to see for a decade: The X-Men are coming home.
But of course, the long-awaited return of Marvel’s Merry Mutants opens up questions of its own, most significantly the form it will take. The natural assumption is that Marvel would simply reboot the film series, incorporating the X-Men into the extant cinematic universe and going forward from there. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time the opted for that approach (‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, anyone?). But while there’s a lot we still don’t know about Marvel’s post-‘Avengers: Endgame’ film slate, it’s safe to say it’ll be a crowded one, and one on which work is no doubt already underway at that. After all, while the fate of the original Avengers (Iron Man, Captain America, et al) remains uncertain, it stands to reason that sequels to later installments like ‘Black Panther’, ‘Ant-Man’, ‘Doctor Strange’, and perhaps even ‘Captain Marvel’ may well be on the drawing board. And that’s on top of the long-rumored ‘Black Widow’ and confirmed projects like ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home‘ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3’ (whatever form that ultimately takes). Suffice it to say this is all more than enough to keep them busy for quite some time, even if they maintain their three-films-per-year release cycle. But there are always other options.
And it’s one of those other options that may well be coming to fruition. According to the folks over at We Got This Covered (citing unspecified sources), Marvel is “tossing around potential ideas” for one or more X-Men series for the Disney+ streaming service. if true, the show (or shows) would join the previously announced streaming exclusive ‘Vision and the Scarlet Witch’, as well as the upcoming Loki-centric series and a Falcon/Winter Soldier-fronted spy thriller. No word yet on what – if anything – this development might mean for Fox’s other X-related TV projects, ‘The Gifted’ and ‘Legion’.
But whatever the playing field looks like when the dust settles, it’ll be a while before the MCU’s version of the X-Men see the light of day. As ScreenRant notes, Disney cannot begin developing an ‘X-Men’ series (or film, or anything else relating to this particular set of rights) until after the closure of the Fox deal. To do otherwise wouldn’t just be jumping the gun, it would cause them to run afoul of federal antitrust laws. Now, it may very well be that the intent is to bring the X-Men and/or the Fantastic Four to Disney+. It would certainly make sense as a way of not just jumpstarting these properties but of playing catch up with, after a fashion, with the rest of the universe, to say nothing of how well the X-Men lend themselves to the sort of serialized, longform storytelling that television does best (and I say that knowing full well that the Marvel Universe was built on exactly that sort of storytelling).
For the moment, though, all we can say with any certainty is that Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is by his own admission eager to get his hands on the wayward Marvel characters. Anything other than that is purely speculative until the Disney/Fox deal closes. They’re currently expected to pass that milestone sometime in March, assuming no major hiccups emerge. Once that happens, we may finally start to get a sense of what the future holds for the X-Men. Though even that likely won’t happen right away, as the newly merged studios will still have two movies in the old franchise to promote.
What do you want to see Marvel do with the X-Men? Are you interested in the prospect of a Disney+ series or would you prefer they stick to the big screen? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on the future of Fox’s Marvel properties as it becomes available!