Following the success of Logan and the announcement that Josh Brolin would be taking on the role of the time traveling mutant Cable in the upcoming Deadpool 2, slight grumblings manifested within the framework known as the internet, complaining once again that we, as fans and trolls, would never see the X-Men working along side the Avengers. But, guess what? That’s alright.
If you grew up like I did, you dreamed of a day where the heroes you saw on the pages of your favorite comic books would one day grace the silver screen. Lucky for us, we are living in the golden age of superhero films. DC’s Extended Universe is about to give us a live action Wonder Woman film, followed by the highly anticipated Justice League movie. In the last year and a half, Fox has hit fans with 2 heavy hitting R-rated adventures, launching the Deadpool franchise, while closing the super successful Wolverine saga with Logan. The ever evolving, ever expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, the superhero movie blueprint against which all others are compared and judged, is now well beyond double digit films. How could it possibly get any better!?
Well, the X-Men and the Avengers could be seen on screen together.
I don’t have the time to get into why this hasn’t happened, and will not happen for the foreseeable future (google: Fox and Marvel Studios hate each other…?), but who wouldn’t be bummed about not being able to see the likes of Captain America, Wolverine, Spider-Man & Jean Grey all kicking ass together, or the likes of Tony Stark, Bruce Banner & Charles Xavier all devising the ultimate plan to foil Magneto’s brotherhood?
It might not be such a bad thing these two universes stay separate. Here’s why:
Focus on More Characters
Let’s break it down, D-Generation X style for a minute (Austin Brunner, that reference was for you). Think to yourself, “who are the most popular Marvel characters?” If you base it purely on pop-culture popularity and not personal preference, I’m sure your list looks something…like…this (in no particular order): Wolverine, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America, Deadpool, etc. etc. etc. Now, if all of the Marvel characters were, in fact, under the Marvel Studios brand, I’m willing to put money on the fact that the powers that be wouldn’t have started an all inclusive film universe with Iron Man. It would’ve been started with Spider-Man, and then branched off with the X-Men. The reasons for this are the same reasons those were the properties put to franchise before the MCU began: They were the most popular, and looked at as the most lucrative of all the heroes. That’s why Sony snatched up the wall crawler, and Fox took their gamble on a group of mutants. Now imagine a Marvel Cinematic Universe in which the original launch point was based around Peter Parker, not Tony Stark. Would we have Iron Man by now? I would respond with an unequivocal “yes!” Captain America? I’m sure. Thor? Yes! But with the addition of Spider-Man, the X-Men, and most certainly the Fantastic Four, would we have seen 2 films based around the relatively unknown Star-Lord and his Guardians of the Galaxy? I doubt it. What about a Black Panther movie? Captain Marvel? Ant-Man? There’s a chance these movies would still be years down the pipeline. With the universes separate, Marvel Studios was able to focus on some lesser known, but just as great characters. As was the X-Universe. Now, we all know that everything churned out by Fox in the realm of superheroes hasn’t been, shall we say, stellar. We have gotten 10 X-Men films (and what I suppose was a Fantastic 4 Film…?) in that span, with 3 focusing on the rabid Wolverine alone, and one launching a foul-mouthed Merc into the stratosphere. That leads me to my next point…
As I have stated above, the last year has given us, on 2 separate occasions, something I never for the life of me thought I’d see: R-Rated superhero films about mainstream characters. Deadpool raged into theaters in February of 2016 in all of its “mature audiences only” glory, while Logan capped off a decade and a half of Hugh Jackman’s iconic Wolverine portrayal. Both films wrecked it at the box office, and were praised by critics and audiences alike. Neither would fit into the family friendly mold that Marvel Studios has carved out for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Universes each follow different aesthetics. Marvel/Disney releases brightly colored, grounded, “family friendly” films. Fox has found a niche in the R-rated field that is clearly meant for adults, with f-bombs and decapitations galore. Neither is wrong in their approach, and when a viewer gets sick of one style of storytelling, they can mix it up with the other. Even the dearly departed Amazing Spider-Man Universe from Sony gave the fans a slightly different take on the web-slinger, building a world much different than the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films. Different styles of story telling is a good thing.
A Good Thing Going
To piggy back off of the above sentiment, both studios are rolling in the proverbial dough at the moment. Even after the luke warm reception to X-Men: Apocalypse, Fox has a bona fide hit making machine in the X-Men franchise. It seems whenever they produce a dud of a film like X-Men: The Last Stand or Origins: Wolverine, they follow it up with a redemption of sorts, as in X-Men: First Class and The Wolverine. Marvel Studios has a gold mine in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and even when a film doesn’t “do well” with critics or audiences, it still rakes in the big bucks and brings in viewers in droves. Both sides of the equation are successfully launching stand-alone films and spin offs alike, and both are currently on the right side of critics and fans. Seeing where both of these franchises go, X-Force films and the Infinity War movies to be exact, will be exciting for all of us.
If the stars and planets aligned and Fox and Marvel made an unprecedented deal (as in, the Sony/Marvel deal times 10), one question would be asked across the galaxy by fans of both franchises: “How the f— will this work?” Both sagas have passed the double-digit movie mark, and have firmly established mythos and origins. With those facts set in place, there would be only 2 options for combining the worlds of our favorite heroes…
1. We have alternate worlds/earths/realities. The Foxiverse (let us forget what an awful sounding hybrid word that is) and the MCU exist on different planes altogether. Now, these movies are hardly grounded in day-to-day reality, so the existence of a multiverse is not out of the realm of possibility, and the topic has been lightly breached in last years hit Doctor Strange. Hell, the X-Men Universe has also introduced time travel, so that could weigh in to the explanation as well. The payoff might be worth it, but the road to it could be filled with unexplained plot holes and “skip around” story telling…but hey, Fox is no stranger to that already. The other option is…
2. One of the franchises reboots. Now, with both universes churning out iconic versions of their most beloved characters, I’m assuming neither would be hard pressed to reboot their continuity. To many, Hugh Jackman IS Wolverine, in the same sense that Robert Downey Jr. embodies all that is Tony Stark. Which franchise, which cast, do you start over at ground level? The answer, to be honest, is neither. The Marvel Cinematic Universe shows no plans of stopping their tour de movie force in the next 100-150 years, so unless Fox churns out a couple of terrible, horrific bombs (think Fantastic 4 reboot, but 4-5 of them in a row), the X-continuity will continue as well. Especially with the highly anticipated Deadpool 2 seemingly set forth to release a slew of X-Force movies, with the “Phoenix Saga” & a New Mutants movie already in development on top of that.
So what am I saying? Well, we’re not going to see these heroes on-screen together. But as I’ve restated over and over, that’s REALLY okay! We are all witness to a time where superhero movies rule the cineplex, and we are able to enjoy multiple variations of our favorite superheroes on-screen several times a year. I, for one, choose to focus on all of these positives, rather than my “fan boy troll” inner voice that says, “but they should all be working together!”
…………………….but they should all be working together, right?
Lou Mattiuzzo is a full time teacher, full time father, full time husband & full time superhero enthusiast. Say what you will about DC’s Extended Universe, but he is pumped for the Wonder Woman film!
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