Twelve Days of X-Mas, Day 5: ‘PROFESSOR X AND THE X-MEN’

This feature originally ran at MCU Exchange in December of 2017.

Welcome to another installment of what I hope is an enjoyable, extended look at a series of films that I’d like to see used as a way to bring the X-Men and Fantastic Four universes into the MCU. I’ve spent a troubling amount of time in my own mind thinking about this and figured that if I was going to spend that much time, I might as well write it up and feel accomplished! In doing so, I know that I’ll push some buttons with some readers, so let’s be clear about a few things: these are only MY ideas and do not, in any way, represent insight into what we should expect; of all the films I end up writing about, there’s a very small chance ANY of them get made; you’re free to write your own fan-fiction about films you want to see.

With so much time between now and when we will first see the X-Men enter the MCU, there’s a lot of time for things to change (including my own mind); however, this “blueprint” is my current idea and one that I’ve attempted to base both in the kind of decisions Marvel Studios has made to date and on the types of changes we’ve seen recently. Unfortunately, in writing these I’ve discovered I am NOT cut out to do screenplays, so some of these  stray from convention in a few ways.

In the first installment, I took at look at how The Starjammers could potentially kick off Marvel Studios’ inclusion of the X-Men characters into the MCU. Then I took a shot at introducing Charles Xavier to the world and explaining just why he needed the X-Men in the first place. Next, we introduced arguably Marvel’s greatest character, Victor von Doom. We then caught up on the adventures of Corsair and crew and met the poweful Shi’ar Imperial Guard. We finally gave Marvel’s first family the film they deserve and now we’re going to look at a way to bring the original X-Men to the MCU without doing too much of what’s been done before. It’s time for Professor X and The X-Men!!

NOTE: From here forward, we are going to try to go with a less is more approach to these. The first 5 have been VERY long and, understandably, not everyone has the time to read through them so we are making an effort to shorten them up considerably.

We pick up in the year 2023 to find Charles in Scotland working with Moira at her research facility on Muir Island. His return and interest in their old conversations has brought Moira back from the states where she was working with orphaned children. Additionally, we meet the mysterious Dr. Karl Lykos, a colleague that Charles met on his travels and an expert on mutation. We learn that as Charles traveled the world, he became aware of the existence of thousands of mutants, many of whom were abused and persecuted, and others like Farouk who were already capable of great evil. Charles believes that if something isn’t done to help mutants, like the young girl he met in Cairo, more and more of them will find their way to a life of crime, using their abilities for evil. With Lykos away from the research facility, Charles revealed Project Cerebro to Moira. Convinced this is how they can do the most good, they begin work on the project.

We catch up with Cain Marko. It’s clear that he’s now at one with the force that possessed him years ago and that it controls him by feeding his vengeance. We see that they’ve hatched a plan to allow Cain to remove the final reminder of his tortured youth: Charles Xavier. Marko, under the guidance of Cyttorak, the being that possesses him, begins crafting a helmet that will keep Charles’ powers at bay.

At this point we catch up with Scott Summers. When we last saw him, he’d runaway from the orphanage and after collapsing, had been found by Jack Winters. Some time has passed, Scott is now 15 and shows signs of physical and mental abuse at the hands of Winters who has been using Scott’s abilities to help him acquire some material for an experiment that he believed would increase his powers even more. Though Scott fights it, Winters uses his limited telepathic powers to bend Scott’s will.

Back on Muir Island, Charles, Moira and Lykos begin using Cerebro to identify younger mutants with whom they can make the most difference. In the interest of the less is more idea mentioned earlier, you can imagine the names that could come up here. Of interest to this piece (and those that follow), however, are Jean Grey(14), Scott Summers (now 16), Warren Worthington (18 and already active as the Avenging Angel), Robert Drake (15), Henry McCoy (20 and already enrolled in Bard College), Jamie Madrox (10), Calvin Rankin (14), Kevin Sydney (12) and Suzanne Chan (13). Charles begins work recruiting the children into his School for Gifted Youngsters and reaches out to Fred Duncan, an old friend who we find out now works for the FBI, leading their mutant task force. Charles knows that Duncan is aware of the Summers’ boy and hopes that by enlisting him early on in the process, he’ll make an ally out of him in the long run. Again, in the interest of time, Charles is able to acquire Jean, Scott, Warren, Hank and Bobby. While Jamie’s parents were open to Charles’ idea, they believed their son too young to move away from home; as a result, one of the first projects Charles’ tasked Hank McCoy with was to build a machine that prevented Jamie from duplicating while he was in it.

Training montage!

Charles’ X-Men face their first true challenge: a teleporting mutant who has been on a major crime spree. Revealing themselves to the public for the first time, IN THEIR FULL GOOFY AS HELL COMIC ACCURATE UNIFORMS, Marvel Girl, Cyclops, Angel, Beast and Iceman work together with Charles to down the teleporter who had become known as “The Vanisher.”  The Vanisher is taken into custody by Fred Duncan and The X-Men become well-known and, even accepted as heroes. TV footage shows them working alongside the Fantastic Four, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and the Avengers to take out various minor X-villains (someone like Mesmero or even as ridiculous as Arcade could cameo in this way).

Stepping away from the action, we’ll also need scenes of the team at the mansion as well. We need time for Jean and Scott’s romance to take hold, to see how brilliant Hank is, to watch Warren fly off in the middle of a lesson by Charles and to see just how much Bobby looks up to Scott. It’s also time to find out a bit more about Charles’ dark side. We know that he’s been constructing barriers in Jean’s mind to keep her from her real powers and that he hasn’t told her. And, during this time, he’s visited by Lykos and we find out that Charles has known about and kept quiet about Lykos’ own secret need to absorb the life force of other beings.

The film’s final act is all about the X-Men and the Juggernaut. The team fights hard, but no absolutely no avail as the Juggernaut wreaks absolute havoc on their school, the building in which he grew up, abused by his father and ignored at the expense of Charles. Charles quickly realizes that he’s unable to use his powers to stop Cain as well, so he reaches out to those who his team has helped in the past. As Juggernaut continues to lay waste to the area, the team is badly beaten and disabled one by one. Charles walks out to face his step-brother only to have the Juggernaut charge him. Realizing he will be destroyed, Charles quickly employs a psychic shield around him. While this cushions the blow, Charles is still sent flying, striking his lower back into the front wall of the school. At this time, Doctor Strange and the Human Torch show up, having answered the call. Strange recognizes Marko is possessed by an ancient being; Torch deduces that the helmet is literally riveted to Marko’s skin; Charles pleads with them to stop Marko but to spare his life. Once Johnny frees the helmet, Charles uses his abilities to lift it from Marko’s head and begins to communicate with him only to quickly realize that he’s not there. Just as the Juggernaut prepares to starts another charge, Bobby lays down a patch of ice to keep him from gaining momentum and Jean, in her most impressive use of her powers to date, enters the mind of Marko, fractures the bond of Cyttorak and puts him to sleep.

Post-Credit Scene #1: The Savage Land. Growing concerned that he would no longer be able to keep himself under control, Lykos chose to go off the grid. Chasing legend, he eventually found himself in the Savage Land. As the camera pans away from him, we see the Savage Land in its full glory and before it turns to black, we see Lykos unleash a pair of wings and fly away.

Post-Credit Scene #2: Very montage-y. We see several young mutants, all across the world, grow into their powers. While some are able to hide their changes, others aren’t and other still choose not to. Reports pore in of mutants using their powers to murder and steal. Of note in the montage are Alex Summers, a green-haired girl and a teenage girl seen selling diamonds at a pawn shop (no, it’s not Emma Frost!). As the montage comes to a close, Fred Duncan is seen reporting to his new boss: Henry Gyrich, leader of Project Wideawake.

Post-Credit Scene #3: Cain Marko is shown as a prisoner. As we move to the credits, we see he’s being held underground in friction-less cell. Above ground, the reconstruction of the school goes on.

Fan Cast:

Marvel Girl/Jean Grey-Sophia Lillis

I set her apart not only because I think that Jean is super important in the overall scheme of things but also because after watching IT, I feel that Lillis is perfect for Jean. She absolutely has the look down and can act. I know she’ll be a little old by the time this film rolls around, but I think it has to be her!

The rest of the team

By the time 2020 or 2021 (whenever Marvel Studios gets around to the Starjammers movie, Jacob Tremblay will be the right age to be cast as the young Scott Summers and grow into the role and could possibly lead a series of X-films beyond what I have planned here (X-Factor would be a great start). It’s impossible to say what these kids will look like down the road, but Max Charles (The Strain), Jacob Hopkins (The Goldbergs) and Jake Brennan (Richie Rich) could hold down the roles of McCoy, Worthington and Drake.

This leaves the team in a great spot to move into their next phase. I tried to make this as different as I could from anything we’ve seen before and to stay true to the comics. The team is established, but not quite ready for prime time and mutant hysteria has set in. Sounds like a good time for our heroes to do the one thing the old X-movies never did…head to space!

Come back tomorrow for our intro to Galactus and the Silver Surfer and see what else the demon Mephisto has been up to.

Professor X and the X-Men will return!

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