Marvel will soon gain back control of the X-Men, Fantastic Four and hundreds of other characters as part of the purchase of FOX but there’s only one character they should keep…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
2019 will be the year that Marvel finally debuts a leading woman in a starring role with ‘Captain Marvel’ coming in March and then just two months later ‘Avengers: Endgame’ will land in theaters effectively shuffling in a new era in the complex and intertwined shared cinematic universe.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige spent 10 years meticulously building a world where all of the superheroes and villains from comic books would finally exist in the same universe — a device that for some reason had never really been used previously until the Marvel Cinematic Universe was created.
While much of this year is already plotted out at Marvel, perhaps the biggest event that will happen at the studio in 2019 is the expected finalization of the sale where Disney will own the majority of FOX’s assets.
The $71.3 billion deal will give Disney control over a lot of properties from ‘The Simpsons’ to the ‘Alien’ franchise to FX Networks and the myriad of award-winning shows that come along with it but for all the ways this puzzle will come together later this year, perhaps the most exciting piece that will fall in place is the return of hundreds of Marvel characters who were previously controlled by FOX.
The most obvious characters will be those existing in the X-Men universe — Wolverine, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Professor X, Magneto, etc — as well as the Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom, Galactus, the Silver Surfer and hundreds more than have been part of the FOX family for more than two decades.
Funny enough, Feige cut his teeth as an associate producer on the first ‘X-Men’ movie back in 2000 primarily because of his knowledge of the Marvel Universe. Now Feige will get to play in that sandbox once again as he will have the opportunity to incorporate the X-Men, Fantastic Four and plenty more into the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
With that huge influx of characters also come a lot of pending questions because FOX has spent the past 19 years making numerous films primarily surrounding the X-Men with billions made at the box office and many of those movies being critically acclaimed.
In fact just last year, ‘Logan’ was nominated for an Oscar for best screenplay based on the characters and original story from Marvel Comics.
Beyond what has already been done in the past, two fully produced films are still yet to be released with ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ and ‘The New Mutants’ expected to land in theaters even as Disney will actually gain ownership over those movies.
What Feige and the higher ups at Disney will soon have to decide is whether or not it’s worth saving anything or anybody from those long string of FOX films or just scrap the entire universe and start over again with new actors, new stories and new origins that will belong solely to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Perhaps the toughest part about those upcoming decisions is the fact that FOX already rebooted the X-Men universe with a cast of younger actors that started out with ‘X-Men: First Class’ and will continue into the upcoming ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ sequel.
Included in that cast is James McAvoy, who has received praise for his portrayal of Charles Xavier as well as Michael Fassbender as the villainous Magneto. ‘Game of Thrones’ star Sophie Turner took over the role of Jean Grey and her on screen sister Maisie Williams will soon play another X-Men character in the upcoming ‘New Mutants’ film as well.
It’s safe to say the two most famous roles in the X-Men shared universe would be Hugh Jackman, who plays Logan/Wolverine and of course Ryan Reynolds, who portrays the loudmouth, fourth wall breaking assassin known as Deadpool.
Because Jackman and Reynolds have defined those roles so heavily over the past few years — not to mention their real live bromance when the cameras aren’t rolling — it’s understandable why many Marvel fans are hoping that at least those two actors will carry over into the new shared cinematic universe once Disney gains control over the X-Men franchise.
In fact, perusing Reddit and other fan forums will see dozens of theories about how Hugh Jackman should make an appearance, even if it’s a brief one, in the upcoming ‘Avengers: Endgame’ movie just to begin that transition with the X-Men showing up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The problem is Jackman has already made it clear that he’s pretty much done playing Wolverine and at 50 years of age — even with his abs — he’s on the wrong side of time as Marvel begins plotting out the next 10 years of films.
It’s a little different case when it comes to Reynolds and his foul-mouthed portrayal of Wade Wilson aka the Merc with a Mouth aka Deadpool.
Reynolds is only 42 — the same age as Robert Downey Jr. when he was cast as billionaire Tony Stark for the ‘Iron Man’ movie that launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe — but most importantly he embodies Deadpool more than any other actor in the X-Men films.
If there is going to be a Deadpool under the Disney regime, it essentially has to be Reynolds or they might as well write that character off all together.
Reynolds not only spearheaded the idea that a ‘Deadpool’ movie could work but he transformed a little known character from the X-Men comics into a massive box office success story. Chances are nobody was ever going to think about making a ‘Deadpool’ movie much less really putting that version of the character into the X-Men film universe if it wasn’t for Reynolds.
Now it will be tricky to find a way to incorporate Deadpool into the Marvel Cinematic Universe — partially because he’s an ‘R’ rated antihero — but mostly because to only use him again, you’d essentially have to rewrite his origin story and pretend he never interacted with the X-Men characters who were a part of the first two films in that series.
Still, that’s not an impossible task, especially given Feige’s innate ability to weave together characters through a single shared universe without sacrificing time or story for any of them.
As for Jackman, he’s definitely embodied Wolverine for nearly two decades but it’s easier to replace him than it would be for Reynolds. Maybe a safer bet would be to recreate the X-Men at first minus Wolverine to put some space between the new version of the character and the beloved one played by Jackman through so many movies.
Still, finding a new Wolverine wouldn’t be nearly as tough as discovering somebody else who could play Deadpool even remotely close to what Reynolds has done with that character.
As for the rest of the X-Men film universe, nobody is truly irreplaceable.
Patrick Stewart was brilliant as Professor X in the original ‘X-Men’ movies but no one really complained when James McAvoy took over the role. The same could be said for the brilliant Ian McKellen, who more or less gave up his role as Magneto to the equally menacing Michael Fassbender.
Marvel has rarely missed when it has come to casting characters in their cinematic universe and it’s tough to imagine they couldn’t scour IMDB and eventually find somebody new to play Professor X and Magneto. Even as much as Jackman has been a great Wolverine, he exited with a beautiful swan song in ‘Logan’ and there’s really nothing left that could top that performance.
It’s going to take several years for Feige to truly incorporate the X-Men into the Marvel Cinematic Universe because even as he takes control in 2019, he still has to find a way to build them into their own movies and then plot out how they will interact with the existing characters such as Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel.
That bit of distance could allow Feige to say goodbye to McAvoy, Fassbender, Jackman and nearly everybody else while finding the right actors to take over those roles in the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The time between movies would also allow them to orchestrate an introduction for Reynolds as Deadpool into the current Marvel Universe without skipping a beat.
Now it’s entirely possible that Feige makes a completely different decision than the one we just laid out — and after all he’s done, there should be t-shirts printed with the words ‘In Feige We Trust’ scribbled across the front of them — but the truth is everybody not named Ryan Reynolds who has ever played in the X-Men universe is expendable and starting over fresh would be the best move for Marvel in 2019 and beyond.