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‘Avengers… Go to Hell’ – Reflecting on X-Men, Marvel’s original blockbuster film franchise

The AiPT! staff reflects on the past and future of the X-Men film franchise.

Since their debut in 1963, the X-Men have sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them. But you know what? Here at AiPT!, we’ve got nothing but love for Marvel’s mighty mutants! To celebrate the long-awaited return of Uncanny X-Men, AiPT! Brings you UNCANNY X-MONTH: 30 days of original X-Men content. Hope you survive the experience…There’s a scene in Uncanny X-Men Vol. 3 #3 by Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo where Captain America and the Avengers confront Cyclops, now a mutant revolutionary.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Cyclops replies, “Captain America, Avengers… Go to Hell.”

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

It’s a great reminder that, long before Marvel Studios’ Avengers franchise dominated the box office on a regular basis, the X-Men were Marvel’s Hollywood cash cows. As it’s Uncanny X-Month, there’s no better time for the AiPT! staff to reflect on past X-Men movies and look to the franchise’s future as part of that very successful Marvel Cinematic Universe.

What’s your favorite X-Men movie?

Rory Wilding: Some X-Men movies are better than others, but Logan stands above all else. Considering a number of the movies have been Wolverine-focused, James Mangold’s movie finally nails what is at the core of this character, in how he is a broken man who sees no path to redemption for himself. Very loosely based on the comic book storyline “Old Man Logan,” this is an ultra-violent, post-modern western that serves as a worthy swan song for Hugh Jackman’s Logan.Forrest Hollingsworth: Rory already got Logan, which is my favorite because X-23 is my favorite X-Men character, so I’ll go to bat for X-Men: First Class. It’s a really tightly scripted, and visually arresting, film that doesn’t overstay its welcome in runtime or thematic intent. The storyline around Charles and Erik is especially well done, hitting all of the right dramatic notes–ripped straight from the comics–without tipping into melodrama like some other X-Men films do.

Chris Hassan: Wow. A lot of love here for Logan, but in my opinion, it’s a Wolverine movie, not an X-Men movie. While I enjoyed First Class and Days of Future Past, I have to go with X2. We need to turn back the clock to a time before Marvel Studios churned out one crowd-pleasing film after another and you realize what a comic book movie accomplishment Bryan Singer’s second X-flick was. From that thrilling beginning with Nightcrawler to the very last shot teasing the Phoenix, X2 is the greatest X-Men film ever made… so far.

Nathaniel Muir: Chris picks X2 and Forrest picks First Class. So I have to go with my third choice. I want to stick with the mainline movies so I am going with Days of Future Past. The best part about it is how well it adapts the comic storyline. It is the perfect mix of action and science-fiction and while the movie is not perfect, it seems to have been made with genuine care for the characters.

Image Credit: X-Men Movies Facebook Page

Which X-Men character do you want to see on the big screen?

Rory: Introduced in Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday, Hisako Ichiki AKA Armor has the ability to generate an impenetrable psionic exoskeleton body armor. Considering that Wolverine has always had great chemistry with some of the younger students, there can be an interesting mentor-student relationship between him and Armor.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Forrest: Can I cheat and say X-23? I know we got a younger Laura in Logan, and I loved her there, but I would also love to see an adult X-23, preferably from the most recent Tom Taylor All-New Wolverine which I absolutely loved. Barring that, I think it would be fun to see them really lean into how weird the X-Men can be by featuring… Shark Girl.

Chris: I feel like Fox has gotten to all the big ones–and butchered a significant portion of them. So I’m going to cheat too and say Cyclops. But, like, the real Cyclops. The Scott Summers comic book fans know and love. Not the background character audiences made fun of in the first trilogy, and not the whiny, rebel punk in the new films. Give me the X-Men’s true leader all iterations of Wolverine respect.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Nathaniel: Two of my favorite characters are in the worst movies in the franchise. Hopefully, Multiple Man and Archangel are treated better in future installments. I would love to see Mojo in the movies. I have always found the character interesting and his recent X-Men: Black one shot was awesome.

Which X-Men storyline needs to be adapted ASAP?

Rory: Another shout-out to Astonishing X-Men considering the next X-Men movie is going cosmic, I’d love to see the “Unstoppable” storyline adapted, despite that those six issues are the culmination of everything Whedon and Cassaday built toward. Leaning more into a Star Wars direction, there are so many great character beats from Cyclops getting his groove back to the touching romance between Colossus and Kitty Pryde, who provides the emotional gut-punch of the whole series.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Forrest: Nathaniel wrote up a great paragraph that captured why I also think the newest Multiple Man story needs to be adapted here.

Chris: “God Loves Man Kills.” They would never do it, no matter who holds the rights to the franchise, but the X-Men vs. religion? Sign me up! X2 grabbed this classic story’s villain William Stryker and turned him into the military man responsible for Wolverine’s adamantium (and then ran him into the ground over the course of several movies), but in this film I’d want to see William Stryker the religious fanatic. There’s just so much to work with here, for Stryker, the X-Men and even Magneto.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Nathaniel: X-Tinction Agenda” would be a great adaptation. There are big battles, shocking deaths and it is a big crossover that even movie audiences seem to love. Plus, we get Archangel versus Wolverine on the big screen.

Dream casting time! Who would you like to see in an X-Men movie?

Rory: It’s an obvious answer that many have suggested, but Lady Gaga as Dazzler, especially after seeing how great she was in A Star is Born. You could have some subplot that resembles that film’s narrative and just apply a mutant twist. #GagaisDazzler, let’s make it happen.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Forrest: I know we’ve got a Magik coming in New Mutants, and I want to hold off on judging that casting until the film is out, but if they eventually have to reboot some heroes or storylines to fold the X-Men into the MCU, I would love to see Charlize Theron in that role. Imagine her channeling all the badass energy of Furiosa into one of the coolest, most powerful, sword-wieldingest X-characters around! I’m very into it.

Chris: I’ve seen so many X-Men movies, with different actors playing versions of the same character, that even trying to answer this question exhausts me. Also, I feel like every actor is already playing someone in the MCU. I dunno… Jonah Hill as Glob Herman?

Nathaniel: Andy Samberg as Matthew Rosenberg’s Havok would be awesome. Samberg plays Jake Peralta as an oblivious badass who has to learn to work with a team and eventually manages to do so. He constantly screws things up but still manages to get the job done. Just like Havok in Astonishing X-Men.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

How would you introduce the X-Men into the MCU?

Rory: Taking cues from the Arrowverse, I would present the X-world as an alternate universe where mutants are the prominent superhumans of the Earth. Personally, I wouldn’t like to see them crossover with the Avengers, but probably have some character from the MCU taking a dimensional trip to meet the mutants.

Forrest: I mean, the Infinity Stones seem like the obvious answer, right? In the same way that Cap and Iron Man have built up this current roster as a result of the attack in the first Avengers movie, it seems relatively easy to build up a new one through someone that’s more inclined to traverse the dimensions in response to Thanos. Dr. Strange, Gamora, Thor or any other number of characters could easily be alerted to the these powerful potential allies and seek them out in a sensible, sleek way. I’d rather not do a million origin movies over again so, like Rory is saying above, heading somewhere where they’re already established makes the most sense to me.Chris: I feel like people worry too much about why we haven’t heard of or seen any mutants in the MCU. We never heard about Captain Marvel but she was running around punching old ladies on public transportation back in the ’90s. It’s simple, really: Mutants have been hiding, keeping a low profile. There’s a boarding school for gifted students in New York State, there are rumors of strange sewer dwellers under New York City and so on. There’s a terrific scene in Marvels that should serve as the basis for the X-Men’s introduction to the world. Illuminated by the red light from Cyclops’ visor, the X-Men stand revealed–and are immediately hated by the humans they’re trying to protect.

Image Credit: Marvel Comics

Why do mutants start to appear in the MCU? I don’t know, maybe Magneto emerges to free his daughter the Scarlet Witch from the clutches of her human captors–the Avengers. Did I mention that Wanda was a mutant all along, whose powers were dormant and awakened by Loki’s scepter? Also, forget the Fox continuity. That series has more bad movies than good. It’s time for a fresh start.

Nathaniel: The most important thing is to not rush anything. Build anticipation before bringing the X-Men into the MCU. At that point, any storyline will work since audiences will want it so badly. But yeah, an alternate universe/timeline storyline seems like the best way to go.


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