When Disney acquired the live-action right to the X-Men in the merger with Fox, they handed Marvel Studios a gold mine of characters that could support their own cinematic universe for decades. As Kevin Feige and the Marvel Studios Parliament patiently plan their strategy for introducing The Mutants into the MCU, here are 10 characters whose stories could prove incredibly interesting and valuable over the long run.
Most of the characters on this list haven’t appeared on the big screen yet (and to be honest, you could really make an argument that this character never did either), but among the very long list of characters done wrong by Fox, Apocalypse stands out as a giant. One of the world’s first known mutants, Apocalypse personified both the struggle faced by mutants and the idea that survival was only for those most fit. His character received a thrilling retcon recently, courtesy of Jonathan Hickman, and while not everything Hickman writes is easily adaptable to the screen, his retcon of En Sabah Nur provided, maybe for the first time, a glimpse of how to allow audiences to really empathize with the character. If the MCU reboot can pick adapt the history of Hickman’s Okkara, it would provide an entirely different look at the character from what we’ve seen. Apocalypse deserves a major role in any X-franchise reboot rather than the poorly done one-off that Fox gave him. Marvel’s access to Disney Plus can really help Apocalypse out in this way, allowing the character to grow and weave in and out of multiple projects.
A luxury Marvel Studios will have at its disposal that Fox did not is a self-owned streaming service. The X-world is MASSIVE and Fox chose to only focus on a very, very small portion of it. Marvel Studios is certain to have a team of X-Men, but it’s almost equally as certain that they will explore some of the many other corners left unexplored by Fox. Being able to use Disney Plus to introduce some characters who might not draw huge audiences to the theater will serve the studio well in that regard. Should Marvel Studios choose to make the decision to put the Summers family at the center of their reboot (a choice that can really pay off over the course of several years), one such character whose wild adventures would be worth following is Christopher Summers, aka Corsair, the leader of the Starjammers. Starting off the main X-Men franchise with an introduction to the father of Scott, Alex and Gabriel Summers and immediately introducing the Shi’ar Empire (one of Marvel Comics’ greatest alien races) gives the studios a footprint on which to expand on in two different worlds. Thankfully, Fox stayed away from Corsair and the Shi’ar, allowing for Marvel to cash in on some characters that are as sure of a thing as they have in their stable. Put Corsair at the center of the early days of the MCU reboot and you won’t be sorry.
Doug Ramsey, mutant name Cypher, was first introduced fairly early on during Chris Claremont’s run on New Mutants. Cypher’s mutant gifts allow him to subconsciously understand any and all languages. As is the case with many characters over the years, as different writers have taken on projects, they imagine new ways for the characters’ powers to manifest. In this way, Cypher has become increasingly more interesting and powerful. Jonathan Hickman placed Cypher front and center in his Dawn of X era as he was able to communicate with Krakoa, the sentient island inhabited by the mutants. Cypher also has a fantastic relationship with the techno-organic alien Warlock, a character who COULD make as big of a splash win fans as Groot first did. Unlike the Fox films, the MCU is very likely to feature some of the X-Men’s cosmic adventures, making a spot for Cypher all but mandatory.
One of the most powerful precogs in all of Marvel Comics, Destiny has played a major role in X-books over the last few years and seems…destined…to continue to do so. Following a classic archetype, Destiny lost her vision in her early teens as her ability to see the future grew. Fox’s X-films chose to focus heavily on Destiny’s long-time lover, Mystique, but strangely never included Destiny, who, with Mystique, reorganized the terrorist organization the Brotherhood of Mutants. In the comics, mutants have seen more than their fair share of major events, from the rise of Apocalypse to M-Day and even the Dawn of X…and Destiny foresaw them all. A powerful precog with an ever-changing agenda seems like a character who could serve as a wonderful wild card as Marvel Studios brings the mutants to their shared universe.
Forge’s mutant abilities made him a powerful technopath, but it’s his genius as an inventor that makes him truly fascinating…that and the fact that he’s also a pretty skilled sorcerer to boot. Raised in a Cheyenne tribe, the man known only as Forge has one the absolute wildest histories of any mutant. He’s served in the military, developed weapons for the Department of Defense (including one of the most devastating anti-mutant weapons ever created) and, over time, turned himself into a cyborg. Everything about Forge converges to make him exactly the type of character fans have come to expect to see in MCU properties. He should be front and center of the first wave of mutant projects developed by Marvel Studios.
Kitty Pryde, played by Elliot Page in a pair of Fox’s X-films, is among the most tragically misused characters under Fox’s watch. Although the character got a bit of redemption in
X-Men: Days of Future Past, the studio never came near to exploring the full potential of Shadowcat. A member of the main X-Men team, Excalibur and, more recently the leader of the Marauders and part of the Quiet Council that serves as the governing body of Krakoa, Pryde deserves to be at the forefront of Marvel Studios’ efforts. Given the complexity of her character and the multiple audiences to whom she would appeal, Pryde should be one of the building blocks of this iteration of the mutants’ story (and I’m told Kevin Feige is a big fan).
If the MCU is going to space with these mutants, they must include the Shi’ar Empire. And that means they must include Lilandra Neramani. In this regard, Kevin Feige and the Marvel Studios Parliament would do well to learn from X-Men: The Animated Series which saw Lilandra and the Shi’ar figure prominently into one of the show’s best arcs. The dynamics of the Neramani family are absolutely fascinating in the comics and could make for a wonderful Game of Thrones-style project on their own and their story could be sprinkled into a few X-projects before taking center stage. Of course, Lilandra’s love affair with Professor X is one of the great landmark events of Charles’ life and could provide ready-made drama to the MCU’s mutants fairly early on. Her presence in Charles’ life would also allow for an entirely different side of his character to be explored than was ever done in Fox’s films.
Like Kitty Pryde, Madrox has already been done in live-action; however, also like Kitty Pryde, Madrox has never REALLY been done in live-action. Unlike most other mutants, Multiple Man’s mutant powers began to work immediately after his birth, with his first dupe popping out when the doctor smacked his ass to get that first cry. Marvel Studios will almost certainly take advantage of the multiple X-teams that have appeared in the books over the years and as far as telling a great Madrox story goes, that should mean adapting Peter David’s X-Factor. One of the greatest works of one of Marvel Comics’ all-time great writers, X-Factor totally reimagined the original purpose of the X-Factor team and follows Madrox and a team of mutants as they open up X-Factor Investigations. Though it may take a while to get to a point in their story where this arc fits well, this story, with Madrox at the center (and left…and right) is one that MUST be adapted to the screen, whether big or small.
One of the first mutants to make her way into recorded history, Selene Gallio’s personal history alone makes her a must for Marvel Studios’ mutant tales. However, her connection to the Externals, a group of supremely powerful immortal mutants that includes Apocalypse, could allow Marvel Studios to put a mutie-spin on a classic fantasy franchise: Highlander. Marvel Studios could adapt a mini-arc that kicked off in Jeph Loeb’s X-Force run and see Selene and the other Externals hunt, kill and absorb the life force of one another. If they land the right actress for the role, a Selene solo-series could serve as the de facto History of the MCU project, something ETERNALS should have done better, and introduce the Externals.
Should Marvel Studios decide to put the Summers’ family at the center of their MCU mutant franchise, they’ll have the opportunity to introduce the most powerful and craziest of the Summers’ brothers: Gabriel. Gabriel’s origins are horrifying and, as he grew in power, he did some horrifying things. Introducing his father early on allows for Gabriel (and his brothers) to take some time to develop and while Gabe can be a part of some pretty cool stuff early on, he could be the gateway character to Marvel Studios adapting one of its greatest Cosmic crossover events: War of Kings. Marvel Studios has shown it’s willingness to be patient and play the long game. Introducing Vulcan early on allows them to do that with a huge payoff looming at the end.