While most people (accurately) look at Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe as the crown jewel of modern-day comic book movies, it is important to remember that Marvel properties living in other studios set the groundwork for contemporary comic book movies in the early 2000s.
It is easy to look at classics such as Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy or Christopher Nolan's Batman saga as the founding fathers of what audiences get from the MCU and DCEU today. But some would argue that it was Brian Singer's X-Men films coming out of FOX Studios that first blazed that trail.
Thirteen movies later, the FOX-Men universe ranges from top-tier comic book entertainment to forgettable movies that helped shape the negative narrative put upon the genre. Despite the volatility of the franchise, nearly 26 hours of content has given viewers varied looks at almost every X-Men character in the gallery.
And while some mutants were utilized as footnotes, others were given main character attention, and a decent amount of these characters were given multiple adaptations, there is something that Disney and Marvel Studios can learn about each one of them in the FOX-Men Universe.
Mutants are coming to the MCU at some point, likely with a synonymous name for the Mutant team. And while fans do not know much right now, the biggest question is which characters will be featured amongst the mutant introductions. Many want new and exciting takes on the classic FOX-Men characters fans know and love. Others want a fresh team of mutants to introduce X-Men into the vast MCU.
If Feige and co. decide to repurpose some stalwarts of the X-Men universe, here are some lessons they can learn from their elder movies.
X-MEN HALL OF FAME: WOLVERINE, PROFESSOR X, MAGNETO
For as many characters that the FOX-Men movies do a disservice to, it is understood that the three faces of the franchise were beloved by all. Wolverine, Professor X and Magneto have the focal point of the majority of X-Men movies so far. This is a big reason that many believe that waiting to reintroduce these characters is the smart move for Marvel Studios.
Professor X and Magneto have such rich ties into the lore of mutants, so bringing them into the MCU will take some serious reworking of the characters as Feige looks to make the mutant gene an organic factor in the MCU. And while fans could say the same about the deep roots of Wolverine's character, the biggest thing for the MCU's Logan is casting.
Hugh Jackman is up there with the Downey Jr's of the world as far as being synonymous with a character. So the biggest thing Marvel Studios can do to separate from Jackman's clawed mutant is to not replicate the biggest liberty FOX took with the character: stature.
Jackman gave audiences a towering and physical specimen with his Wolverine. It would be wise for the MCU to introduce a more traditional short and bulky Wolverine to differentiate. And maybe throw some yellow into his costume for good measure (please).
THE LEADER OF MUTANTS: CYCLOPS
For as much as the majority of fans rave about Wolverine in these movies, just as many of them pan the usage of Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops. The leader of the X-Men is often portrayed as a helpless romantic hot-head whose only focus is his relationship with Jean Grey.
While following his heart is a huge part of his character, Cyclops in the FOX-Men universe is often absent of the leadership qualities that make him such a presence in the panels of Marvel Comics. A more Captain America-type approach to this character would not only give fans something to root for but would also bring a moral compass into the MCU that has proven to be an incredible storytelling device.
And while they gave it to fans for one brief moment, Marvel Studios should normalize the comic accurate costumes of Cyclops immediately.
THE STAR OF THE SHOW: JEAN GREY
In the comics and in the 90s cartoon, Jean Grey, Phoenix, and Dark Phoenix are perceived as three separate characters. By that logic, the FOX-Men movies had six shots at this legendary mutant. All of which were met with backlash from fans.
With two trilogies centered around the Dark Phoenix Saga, it would make sense for the MCU to avoid a third attempt at that story. At least right away. So if Jean Grey is a part of the equation for mutants in the MCU, a more grounded "Marvel Girl" take is probably the route that needs to be taken.
Signs have already pointed in that direction as the events of WandaVision show great parallels to Jean's tragic story, and that is the best Dark Phoenix story audiences have gotten on the big (or small) screen so far.
MISSISSIPPI QUEEN: ROGUE
Having these movies centered around the likes of Wolverine, Professor X, Magneto and Jean Grey makes a ton of sense when looking at the lore of X-Men in the Marvel Universe. And while Rogue is one of the more interesting characters in this universe, FOX attempted to make her somewhat of the main character, before seemingly back-peddling that decision as the years went on.
Lack of consistency has been the biggest critique for such a unique mutant. This character has had a litany of styles, tones, and pairings within the pages, so there is plenty to explore here. Many believe Rogue is an opportunity to introduce Mutants outside X-Men properties with Captain Marvel 2 gearing up for a monster story.
But if there is one thing that was learned about this character from the FOX-Men run, it is that whoever gets cast here needs to either 110% commit to the southern belle thing, or leave it out altogether.
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THE MYSTERY OF: MYSTIQUE
Another example of interesting choices to become the leading character of the franchise is the usage of Mystique, particularly in Fox's soft reboot run of the 2010s. In the first run of X-Men films, Mystique played a more traditional comic book henchman role to Magneto.
And "Raven" may have been the product of one of the biggest ret-cons ever implemented as she became the centerpiece for the soft-reboot story.
With such a big swing taken on the Mystique character in prior films, there is a ton of options for where to take the character if and when she makes her MCU debut.
But there is plenty of opportunity for a multi-layered villain in the X-Men franchise.
ALL HAIL THE QUEEN: STORM
Putting so much focus on characters like Rogue and Mystique have been decisions under scrutiny for over twenty years. One of the reasons is that it seemed to have resulted in one of the most legendary X-Men characters being underutilized.
Storm has ranged from muscle to leader of the mutant team and has so many interesting stories to tell. Before the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman, many were excited for the opportunity for Ororo and T'Challa's love story to get an MCU adaptation. And while there is no reason a Storm/Black Panther romance cannot still happen, the excitement has lessened.
Using Storm to better amplify representation and equality in the universe seems to be the right move. A top candidate for an individual origin outside X-Men projects.
THE BENCH WARMERS
One of the biggest reasons fans want to see different characters spearheading an MCU X-Men team is the underutilization of some fan favorites. Night Crawler, Jubilee, Colossus, Kitty Pride, Gambit, and others have all been cast as side characters to these movies.
This is a grand opportunity for Marvel Studios to use new and different characters to spearhead X-Men projects on the back of their charisma, charm, and skillsets.
Kitty Pride in particular has been a major player in some legendary comic book moments. And for those who don't know, she has reached feats as large as phasing a warhead through planet Earth, sacrificing herself to the cosmos. That along with her Guardians connections makes her someone fans can rally around in a big way.