The X-Men are one of Marvel’s most iconic franchises. There are dozens upon dozens of X-Men comic books, from the mainline series to the spinoff character books such as Deadpool and Wolverine and spinoff team books such as X-Force and X-Factor.
While always a good seller, their popularity grew in the mid-90s with the X-Men Animated Series and their popularity skyrocketed in the early 2000s with the original X-Men live-action trilogy. The X-Men film series, with the help of Spider-Man and Blade, saved the entire Marvel company from bankruptcy and helped to usher in the golden-age of superhero films.
However, to do that, Marvel sold the screen rights of the X-Men to Fox Studios. Fox have been consistently making an X-Men film since 2000, with only a brief break after the disaster that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This makes the Fox X-Men franchise the longest continually-running superhero film franchise ever, currently clocking in at 17 years.
During this incredible run, we’ve seen the rise of the cinematic universe in Hollywood, but more specifically, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel built an empire on the backs of their B and C tier characters. In so doing, they recreated their comic book universe on the big-screen, but with a few glaring omissions. Spider-Man, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, and many more were simply missing from the universe due to the film-rights being held by other studios. But as Marvel Studios became more and more successful, and other studios kept ruining their Marvel properties, it became clear that Marvel heroes should be at Marvel.
With the recent successes of the Netflix Marvel shows, the excellent interpretation of Ghost Rider on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the critical and box-office success of Spider-Man: Homecoming it’s understandable why some would want all Marvel characters in the MCU. But I contented that the X-Men should remain apart from the larger universe.
It sounds like a crazy idea from a Marvel-fan, but hear me out.
As said earlier, the original X-Men helped to set the stage for the current golden-age of superhero films we are enjoying. It took the source-material seriously and treated the characters not like goofy comic-book characters meant for kids but rather as fleshed-out characters, with relatable, real-world motivations. The movie was a success because audiences could relate to these characters and their struggles.
The movie also setup a world filled with people who have fantastic abilities. A world with so many characters there could be teams of heroes fighting teams of villains. The movie promised a huge plethora of characters, both fan-favorites and completely obscure. While the original trilogy focused heavily on the mainline X-Men, later films would give side-characters their time in the spotlight.
Across the 10 films currently in the series, fans have seen hundreds of mutants, all with unique abilities. Some, like Wolverine and Deadpool, have been given their own series of films to flesh out their stories. Others, like Professor X and Mystique, have had their stories fleshed out by multiple actors across multiple trilogies.
Since Fox only have the rights to the X-Men universe, they rely solely on their mutant characters to make Marvel films (for the sake of this article and good taste I’m actively ignoring the Fantastic Four). It’s for this reason that Fox are willing to make films focusing on fan-favorite characters and films set in different time periods. After three conventional films to start the series, Fox had to try making different types of superhero films. They may have had a misguided attempt with Origins: Wolverine, but they soon found their groove with period-piece films.
They experimented even more by introducing different genres into the superhero formula, such as a balls-out (quite literally at times) comedy and a gritty western. Having such different tones from the mainline X-Men films, as well as every other superhero film, helped to catapult Deadpool and Logan to box-office and critical success.
As much as I personally love how it interprets their characters, Marvel Studios is out to make the most widely-accessible films it can. While their films do incorporate different genres into their movies, they will always be a superhero film first and foremost. They will always follow the established formula which has brought Marvel all it success.
Perhaps it’s the benefit of age that lets Fox try different types of X-Men films or perhaps it’s just a way to keep the rights to the franchise for a little longer, but either way Fox are doing something special with X-Men.
Fox have shown they are willing to showcase different characters in spectacular ways. (May I direct your attention to the excellent showcase of Nightcrawler’s and Quicksilver’s powers.) Fox have also shown they are willing to experiment with what actually constitutes a superhero-film.
Despite some missteps, Fox are continuing to innovate within the X-Men universe. In 2018 alone, we will be getting Deadpool 2 (a comedy), X-Men: Dark Phoenix (standard superhero blockbuster), and New Mutants (a horror movie). Now no one knows if these films will be successful but I for one applaud Fox for at least trying something new in a nearly oversaturated market.
So Fox, if you’re reading this, first off why? Don’t you fancy movie executives have anything better to do than read some nobody’s blog post? Secondly, feel free to promote this article on your official social media pages. It would be pretty cool to be retweeted by an acutal movie studio. Thirdly and most importantly, keep doing what you’re doing. The X-Men universe is filled to the brim with wholly unique characters that can’t be found anywhere else in comics. They all deserve their time in the spotlight and, for right now Fox, you are the only studio willing to gamble on these timeless characters.
Keep up the good work Fox, and us fans will keep coming out to support you.
What do you think? Should the X-Men stay with Fox or do you want to see them fight alongside the Avengers? Let me know in the comments down below or find me on Twitter @CBloodRojas.