While it seemed almost a given that the Marvel Comics characters controlled by 20th Century Fox would be returned to Marvel Studios when the Walt Disney Company’s purchase of the studio closes, CEO Bob Iger always played coy with the notion – even as the deal became more and more solid over the last year. But that position changed on Thursday, when he finally admitted it “makes sense” to give control of the X-Men and the Fantastic Four to Marvel Studios and its president Kevin Feige. In the spirit that “there should not be two Marvels,” Feige and the studio will control the film destinies of characters like Cyclops, Mr. Fantastic, and the Mole Man very soon.
Well, it may not be official until after Fox’s final X-Men projects, X-Men: Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants, are released next year, but everyone is already hoping the fourth Avengers film will make some nod to the change about to occur.
So what will it look like with Marvel’s Merry Mutants and First Family in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? If the previous films are anything to go by, it’ll build slowly into a magnificent crescendo. But which characters will Feige employ to make the introductions? We have our guesses with the following six characters who will likely appear in Marvel Studios pictures before too long.
(Photo by ©20th Century Fox Film Corp.)
He’s the best at what he does: Making cameos in other Marvel Comics and X-Men films. So it makes proper sense that James Howlett aka Wolverine would make a brief yet profound appearance to mark the arrival of the Fox-controlled characters. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise us if Avengers 4’s post-credit stinger featured a gloved fist with three adamantium claws protruding from it. As the X-Men’s cinematic mascot, his most iconic feature would act as the most economic and effective way of saying the Mutants are coming to the MCU.
It would also allow Marvel to shoot the scene in secrecy without the participation of the actor who will play Logan going forward. Previously, Hugh Jackman said a Wolverine appearance in the MCU would make it attractive to return to the role, but it is currently doubtful he will go through with it. Expect the MCU’s Wolverine to wear a very new face.
A swift Victor Von Doom introduction into the MCU could easily be first order of business. In fact, it might be more important to establish him before any of the new heroes. With him comes the nation of Latveria – a glaring absence on the world stage in films like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War – and a constant international threat for the Avengers to face after the cosmic menace of Thanos (Josh Brolin) is squared away. Buoyed by the love of the Latverian people he rules over, Doom would be very different from the antagonists the team has faced before. And, one presumes, they would need the help of a certain fantastic family to deal with him.
Fox is developing a Doom feature with Legion’s Noah Hawley. In April, he referred to the concept as a spy thriller. Presumably his ideas are compatible with the MCU with a few alterations. There is something appropriate in making Doom the first Marvel villain worthy of their own feature film. At least, Doom himself would certainly think so.
(Photo by Murray Close/TM and Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp)
In early 2005, Marvel Comics and writer Brian Michael Bendis introduced their own Illuminati. The group of powerful heroes represented the various dimensions and aspects of the Marvel Universe’s Earth-616, the primary Earth upon which most Marvel stories take place. Despite Black Panther’s prediction establishing the Illuminati would lead to fascist extremes and refused to participate, the eventual council included Reed Richards, Doctor Strange, Prince Namor, Black Bolt, Tony Stark, and Professor Charles Xavier. While the Illuminati made a number of errors in their stories, this cross-section of the various Earthly powers reveals just how important Professor X is in the scheme of things. Perhaps, more than any other Mutant, he should reveal himself in the MCU first and establish Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters (name pending).
In terms of casting, it would be interesting to see James McAvoy carry on as the character after X-Men: Dark Phoenix. While we assume the continuity of the Fox X-Men series will be discarded, there’s no reason to throw away perfectly good actors. And like Wolverine’s fist, Xavier’s bald pate would be an iconic first sight in a stinger scene.
Considering Marvel Studios’ fascination with the cosmic elements of Marvel Comics lore, Norrin Radd would make an appealing character to introduce early – and not just because of what he heralds. Visually, he is both dynamic and iconic with his shiny silver body and now-anachronistic surf board. As a character, particularly in the more recent Silver Surfer comic book by Dan Slott and Mike Allred, he has an interesting internal conflict between his underlying humanity and the monstrous things he has done for his planet-consuming master, Galactus. That could be a compelling way to introduce not only Norrin, but Galactus and a whole host of characters previously unavailable to the MCU.
It could also be an opportunity for Doug Jones to give the part another try. He gave the Surfer form in 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, but his performance was dubbed over by Laurence Fishburne. As with Hellboy 2 : The Golden Army, another chance to play the part could prove Jones was always the best fit.
(Photo by ©20th Century Fox Film Corp.)
As a leading X-Men character and both an Avenger and the former wife of Black Panther in the pages of Marvel Comics, Ororo Munroe has unique ties to both film worlds which could bridge the gap in unexpected and intriguing ways. Considering her ability to control weather – which is considered one of the most impressive abilities of any Earth-born Marvel character – she could even replace Thor (Chris Hemsworth) should the unthinkable happen to him in Avengers 4. On the personality front, Storm’s overall no-nonsense outlook would be an interesting contrast in the quip-laden MCU. Once she enters the scene, she and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) would be great foils for one another.
Since Alexandra Shipp had little to do in X-Men: Apocalypse, it is difficult to decide if the part should be recast. But that could ultimately depend on the sort of Storm Marvel Studios would want to feature. A more seasoned Storm might require an older actor. But if Mutants are presented as a more recent occurrence, Shipp could carry on.
This seems like a no-brainer, but it comes with a huge caveat. On paper, Marvel Studios should be eager to get into the Deadpool business. Ryan Reynolds is a trooper who made the two Deadpool films accessible hits despite the lower profile of the Merc with the Mouth in compression to, say, Wolverine. But part of that success comes from the fourth-wall–breaking anarchic humor of the character’s comic books. Wade Wilson’s foul-mouthed antics also helped the films find an audience. Both tones may be incompatible with Marvel Studios’ more family-friendly ethos. So strong is their desire for PG-13 films, many assume Venom’s recent PG-13 rating means Sony’s Spider-verse may yet feature appearances by Tom Holland as Spider-Man.
But should Reynolds and Feige figure out a way to import Deadpool without completely neutering him, it is fun to think of a stinger in which he bursts into the Avengers tower and says, “Guys! You’re not gonna believe this one!”
OK, he might be the least likely Fox character to appear soon, but it is still nice to dream of what could be.