When Disney acquired Fox for $52 billion in late 2017, I had two thoughts:
- Corporate mergers like these create ridiculous monopolies that stifle the supposed goal of a competitive marketplace.
- The X-Men and Fantastic Four are finally back with Marvel! My dream of all the Marvel characters coming together is almost complete!
Unfortunately, there are some serious storytelling challenges for the integration of these characters. The MCU has been going strong for over 10 years now with no mention of a mutant or a stretchy scientist. After over 20 films and numerous tv shows spanning hundreds of in-universe years, the emergence of the X-Men needs to be from something big. And considering the reality bending nature of Infinity War and probably Endgame, we will no doubt see the seeds of these character be sown. Here are three theories of how the mutants sprout from those seeds.
Thanos converges the multiverse
This theory is highly dependent on what will happen in Avengers Endgame. Multiverses are a concept introduced already in the MCU. In Doctor Strange, we are told by the Ancient One that there are many, many alternate realities that coincide with our own. The theory takes this information and claims that in another universe, the X-Men and mutantkind exist and take on a similar role that the MCU superheroes fill in their reality. However, an unforeseen consequence of Thanos wiping out half of all life occurred. It’s possible that a tear in the multiverse appeared after the Snap, and eventually the X-Men universe merged with the current MCU universe. I could certainly see this happening; the absence of mutants is quite glaring, and it would bring in an already established team of X-Men who don’t need a huge origin story. This could also distinguish these heroes from the Avengers by painting them as outsiders in the eyes of the public. After all, with years of exposure to super-powered people, why would mutants be feared in the MCU? Imagine you’re living your life as best as you can, what with New York getting invaded by aliens or robots every few years. You were literally turned to dust and then brought back to life (somehow). And now there’s a sudden influx of blue, furry weirdos from another dimension walking down the street that are stronger and smarter than you!
The Quantum Realm awakens the X-Gene
Another avenue the MCU could go is through utilization of the Quantum Realm. What stuck out the most when I watched Ant Man and the Wasp was how they depicted the Quantum Realm. Through prolonged exposure, it granted Janet van Dyne healing powers, and gave Ghost her phasing abilities. In a surprisingly short explanation, Janet told Hank Pym that the Quantum Realm changed her, using the words “adaptation” and “evolution”. Now that Marvel has the rights to the word “mutant”, the writing team can conceivably use this as the precursor to the X-Gene. Lots of fans have speculated that the Avengers will be going into the Quantum Realm in Endgame, so it’s possible that genetic mutation occurs after the events of the film unfold. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver could even be classified as the first MCU mutants as well, given that experiments were conducted on them using the Mind Stone in Age of Ultron (a stone which could unlock latent abilities in the mind). This is as “start from scratch” as it can get while still being connected to the larger universe. Therefore, I would categorize this theory as less interesting but safe.
They’ve been here all along
Not all theories are created equal. This one purports that the X-Men have always existed in the MCU. Professor X uses Cerebro to cloud the minds of all humans, keeping themselves hidden from view in the X Mansion, Genosha, Avalon or somewhere else. The problems with this is obvious: this means that the X-Men refused to protect Earth when Norse gods, Chitauri, robots, Dormammu and Thanos threatened it. The entire point of the X-Men is that they protect humankind, even as humans hate mutantkind. This theory has no way to justify that kind of apathy. This one is straight up dumb.
There are of course more questions about integrating the X-Men: how does Magneto’s backstory change for the 21st century? Who is on the MCU team? Should they hold off on Wolverine?
I hope to get into these questions in the future!