With Marvel almost halfway through its announced projects for Phase 4, fans still have one big question: where are the mutants? With the Disney-Fox merger in the past, fans have been eagerly awaiting news of the X-Men’s return to the big screen, with Marvel not responding. A reboot is almost certainly in the works, but any development or timing information is closely guarded.
While no official plans have been revealed, that hasn’t stopped a slew of mutant-related plagues from making their way into the MCU. the recent Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is perhaps the best example of this, featuring not only discarded X-Men characters, hints to the upcoming X-Men ’97 animated series, and a close look at a famous X-Men-related location, but also a real-live mutant in the form of Patrick Stewart’s Professor X.
However, even these key inclusions have shied away from dropping the word mutant, completely ignoring this part of the character’s origins. Interviews have shown that this was a conscious decision, with the writers feeling that the film was not the… “right place” to open the door for mutants.
More significant cameos and theories, such as the one teasing Storm’s appearance in Thor: Love and Thunder or a true mutant presence in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness have proven to be false and show a reluctance on the part of Marvel to fully show their cards when it comes to mutantkind’s future in the MCU.
For fans of the series of X-Men characters, this omission has proved frustrating, especially considering that the last official word about the future of MCU mutants came over a year ago. Talent from the higher echelons of the Marvel world, however, has recently opened up about the issue, telling why exactly Kevin Feige might be so hesitant to plant the seeds for the rise of mutantkind.
Marvel’s Reluctance to Touch the X-Men
Speak with AP entertainment Speaking of a possible future in the MCU, directors Joe and Anthony Russo spoke about Marvel’s approach to the X-Men.
In addition to sharing their general excitement about the X-Men characters, Joe Russo revealed that the reason Feige and co. “justly set aside” the Mutants to give Marvel Studios more space “introduce some new characters” to the MCU:
“That was one of my favorite comics growing up, Wolverine. One of my treasured possessions is ‘Incredible Hulk 181’, Wolverine’s first appearance. It’s an important part of my comic book collection. Wolverine is so essential to the X-Men , of course that would be a fun project to work on and find a new way in. But I think Kevin probably put that aside for a while to introduce some new characters to the world and bring that back when it’s done is.”
Marvel’s Timeline for the X-Men
The Russo brothers, who have directed four MCU films, are clearly individuals with some sense of Marvel and Feige’s mindset and approach. As such, their understanding of the decision-making process surrounding the X-Men is likely accurate. Joe Russo’s comments on the matter point towards a deliberate approach, one that only draws new characters into the limelight when the time is right.
With the MCU currently balancing so many storylines (the Dark Avengers-esque Lightning strikesa Skrull infiltration in Secret Invasion, and a slew of Multiversal breaches), it makes sense that the time isn’t quite right for the X-Men to make their big appearance. The seeds are being sown slowly, with a bigger plan probably in the works.
However, there is still the question of whether how mutantkind will be introduced in the MCU. The possibilities are seemingly endless, with plausible ways through the multiverse, magic, the machinations of the Celestials and more. However, no clear path has yet been mapped out.
The timeline is also still unclear, with the unique projects filling out Phase 4 and well into next year and beyond. Plus, the MCU is always introducing new characters. Echo, Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel are all newcomers to the franchise, with Blade, Ironheart, and the Fantastic Four all on the horizon. This magical time when the franchise is “finished,” after new characters are introduced is extremely vague and doesn’t give a clear idea when fans can expect to see their favorite mutants on screen.
Still, with a significant Comic-Con panel on the way, news of the X-Men’s return may come sooner rather than later. The folks at Marvel probably have a clear plan in the works for the X-Men, and even if it may take a little longer to realize than some fans would like, news of this future may be just on the horizon.