Rumors are going around that Disney is going to buy 21st Century Fox, at least, it’s entertainment side of things. I normally don’t care to write about such things and, besides the fact that it’s scary to imagine Disney owning even more properties and franchises, this isn’t my field of expertise. However, like anything worth talking about, the X-Men are involved.
I’ve written about the X-Men and their movies time and time again. This entry will not be the last. They hold a special place in my heart with their characters and stories. The movies, especially, have been an important part of my life, never rebooting and telling a constant, although convoluted, story as I’ve grown up. And Disney owning the rights to make those movies could ruin everything.
I don’t mean that I’d hate to see the series start over. I liked X-Men: Apocalypse for a number of controversial reasons, but one of them was that it had a crew of big name X-characters; Storm, Nightcrawler, Cyclops, Psylocke, ect. If the movies rebooted, we could see a team of first class (pardon the pun) mutants headlining a film that hasn’t really happened since X2: X-Men United. Heck, that’s partly why I wish Gifted was a real X-Men show, giving us a Rogue that gets into the mix of things. And a reboot could even have a better prepared timeline, though, I might argue, there’s charm and artistic viability in not letting past films completely dictate new stories.
No, the reboot isn’t what I’m worried about. It’s the mixing of the Marvel Universe with the X-Men. Disney/Marvel’s Cinematic Universe would benefit from having a Wolverine, sure, but the X-Men, at their core concept, would be diluted. And this has been a problem since the very beginning.
Back in the 60s, when there were very few mutants on the scene, the idea of people hating and fearing the X-Men made sense. The few they knew about were some teens who wore funny costumes and a madman who could topple every city with magnetic powers. Of course they were scared. Even with Iron Man and Captain America, there was something different about mutants. Not everyone was going to survive a gamma bomb or get hit by cosmic rays, but anyone, even your neighbor or, worse, your own children, could be a mutant.
But, as the Marvel Universe grew, the differences became less important. There were so many non-mutant superheroes on the scene, how could you even tell who to hate anymore? Except, in the comics, as the general populace grew more tolerant of heroes, they still retained their bigotry towards mutants and the X-Men. And it made less and less sense. The core concept, of mutants being a minority and treated with fear, became less plausible, which watered down the X-Men. They still tried to tell X-Men stories like they always did, but, you had to start asking why Captain America wasn’t getting involved in protecting mutant teens from Sentinel attacks or why Doctor Strange let mutant massacres happen.
Another problem is that, in a shared universe, the X-Men could never attain their ultimate progression. Mutants are supposed to be the next stage in human evolution. Part of the fear humans have towards them is based in the fact that they will be replaced by this next step. Unfortunately, you can’t tell that story with Spider-Man around. Mutants can’t take over the world, or even come close.
Grant Morrison tried to tell that story in the early 2000s. He fast forwarded a bit but his X-Men stories were about mutants becoming a dominate force in the world. And Marvel retconned it as fast as they could and yelled, “No more mutants” and sent that number to under two hundred. They claimed they were bringing the X-Men back to their core concept, of being a minority, but, more simply, they couldn’t let the status quo get out of hand.
The X-Men movies are flawed, I get that. Even the second movie, as fantastic as it is, has issues. Fox has made great X-Men movies and bad ones too. And now, with Hugh Jackman gone and three separate trilogies wrapped up, the movies are in a weird state of flux and uncertainty. But, with Fox retaining the rights, they’ve kept the X-Men in their own separate universe and have been allowed to explore concepts that wouldn’t work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The idea of a cure wouldn’t matter if mutants could join the Avengers someday, the world building in Logan would never make sense with Tony Stark and Bruce Banner on hand and can you imagine Captain America letting X-Men: Days of Future Past happen? Like in the comics, the X-Men stories would be set to certain guidelines and limited in their scope.
Also, look at Inhumans and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. How in the world would a company that makes those types of shows make something like Legion? Aren’t we at least a little better off in this world with a show like Legion on TV right now?
If Disney does buy up the whole world and owns the rights to make X-Men movies, I hope they would keep them separate from the Marvel films. Bring the Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom over, but leave the X-Men alone. At the end of the day, however, I have to remember I’m not in control of this stuff, that whatever will be, will be. I’ll learn to live and let go of the X-Men movies I grew up on and hold my breath as a new wave comes to pass. There would be some great benefits. Disney and Marvel would be more likely to put the X-Men in their comic book costumes and have a fan favorite team that doesn’t just focus on Wolverine. And they’d get the love in the comics that they’ve been missing over the years and maybe a new video game! Also, new films under the House of Mouse wouldn’t negate and erase the movies I’ve loved for so many years. Heck, if it happened today, I’d still have nine X-Men movies (and Deadpool) and that’s something fantastic. I just believe, as the animated series and movies and even games have proven, that the X-Men work when they don’t have to fit in a world of super heroes and can just be themselves.
What has been different this time is that I’ve been reading a lot of DC comics. And while I tend to enjoy stepping over to the other side now and again, I was over there for a long time. I began to notice something else; I wasn’t enjoying my comic book reading as much. It was starting to feel like a chore. Reading Batman was starting to feel like work!
Then, after reading a mountain of DC comics, I began opening my Marvel books and the chore was gone! I started to enjoy what I was reading again! I think I even gave higher-than-deserved stars to those books on Goodreads just because I was glad to be back on Earth 616!
I don’t hide that I’m a Marvel fan. A lot of people like to critique the two companies about being to similar but I don’t see that as the case. The universes, while sharing some common elements, are extremly different in ways that aren’t always appearent to outsiders. But, when you read both and, while being a true fan of one, you see how the other seperates itself, and not just in character names.
To me, the Marvel universe is more science based. Maybe not real science all the time, but believable science more often than not. The DC universe is more fantastic, even in it’s science fiction titles. Wonder Woman comes from an island of Greek mythology after all, Batman could easily be a swashbuckler like Zorro (his inspiration) and even Superman feels more legendary than alien.
But over at Marvel, radiation created most of the heroes. Even as time moves on and origins change, science is still very much the cause of these characters. Gamma bombs, super soldier serums, and cosmic rays fill backstories. Tony Stark is all technology and Reed Richards is the man of science. Thor has been defined as an alien lately, proving that Marvel can’t even let mythology have any credit.The Marvel universe also seems more down-to-Earth. Even with characters like the Hulk. It’s partly because it takes place in the real world, with real cities, instead of Gotham and Coast City. The New York City in the Marvel universe has character because the New York City in the real world has character.
I think a big element DC is lacking that Marvel tends to have in abundance is humor. I can’t think of the last time a Batman or Superman comic made me laugh. Even the Flash tends not to make as many jokes in the comics as his animated counterparts. Gail Simone tends to do well with humor in her books like Secret Six and Birds of Prey but it’s usually dark humor.
Over at Marvel, Spider-Man is always cracking jokes. Whether to himself or to others, he’s always saying something to make you laugh. Books like Deadpool and Hawkeye are always funny. I’ve never seen DC publish anything with the intent of being funny like New Warriors and Nextwave. DC seems to take itself too seriously, preferring to tell bad stories over funny ones, more often than not. When’s the last time you even saw Batman smile?There’s other differences, with plenty of them being in the favor of DC; DC has the interesting element of ‘legacy’ heroes and lets other characters carry one the mantle of famous heroes, they have a richer history, they have a darker tone that can tell more mature stories, they have Jim Lee and Geoff Johns.
But I’m a Marvel fan.
They have the X-Men.