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.
I want to get real and talk about the X-Men.
Back in 2000, I hadn’t read a single comic book. Fourteen years later, that seems ridiculous, but it was true. I was just a geeky thirteen year old who was into Pokemon and Animorphs. It was a random article in my Disney Adventure that turned me on to the X-Men movie. I remember reading the article and thinking back to a picture book I had as a kid that had the X-Men. There was also the old 90’s cartoon that I only ever watched an episode or two of, but those few had stuck with me.
This was also around the same time that we had a computer that could get on the internet regularly so I could start looking into the movie. I think the first X-Men movie was the first movie based website I ever visited. I checked it out, read about the characters and I slowly starting getting into the world. ABC Family even started showing the old cartoon series again. It seemed like the right time but there was still too much information for me to get a hold of. I used to think that Gambit charged items with electrical energy. I was a fool.
When I discovered that my library at the first three Essential X-Men, you can bet it was a big deal. It was like they for placed there just for me to find them right then. These were the first Claremont issues, meaning I didn’t have to lose interest in the X-Men like I would have if they were the Stan Lee comics. These issues introduced Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler, and brought Wolverine, Banshee and Sunfire into the mix. Because of this era, I have a soft spot for the two latter characters, and my personal favorite team includes this era. The second volume of the Essential line had what would become some of my favorite stories, with Alpha Flight, Days of Future Past, Proteus, the Dark Phoenix Saga and the Wendigo, and it all lead to other great stories in future volumes.
Seeing the X-Men movie was huge event for me, even though I was a newly minted fan. It was the first superhero movie I went to as my own choice, the only other one before that was when my whole family saw Batman Forever. It was also the first movie that wasn’t a Jurassic Park movie that I went into with prior fandom, no matter how new. It had the X-Men, it was cool and it made me want to believe Xavier’s school was real.
I even use the first X-Men movie as a flagpost in my life, that I can divide my years in before and after that movie. It’s crazy to think that I was fourteen when it came out, and now it’s fourteen years later when the new one is hitting. I’ve lived the complete second half of my life as an X-Men fan. After the movie, I devoured as many comics as I could, buying back issue from my local store and using ebay to get whole chunks of certain series. One of the first complete runs I had was the Age of Apocalypse event and that was as awesome as I could have hoped.
X2: X-Men United nearly broke me into pieces. The first time I saw the trailer, I wasn’t expecting it and my leg started shaking like crazy. When I rewatched the trailer, I basically had an adrenaline rush that made my whole body fall apart. I couldn’t handle the wait; in between I worked on some X-Men fan fiction, reread my favorite stories, played the fighting game on the PS2, watched the animated series on VHS tapes my mom found online and watched the little clock I downloaded on my computer tick away to that Friday night. In the theater, I thought I lost my ticked and had a near heart attack but it was just hiding in my pocket. When the movie started, and Xavier started speaking and Nightcrawler started taking out the White House, I couldn’t stop smiling and that didn’t change until the end of the movie. No longer was I just some newly won over fan with no idea what was going on, I was a hardcore fan with long boxes and fanwork to prove it.
I even edited this together because I love the movies so much.
I love the X-Men. When I was a teenager (and now) I wanted nothing else than to find out I was a mutant and to go live with them. Coming from a broken home that was going through even rougher moments than what broke it, the surrogate family that the X-Men made was a wonderful dream. I wanted to have friends I could trust with my life and they would trust me with theirs. I wanted to fight for a cause I believed in and Xavier had won me over. Being an X-Man would have given my seventeen year old life the meaning I was looking for.
But even now, knowing what I refused to believe back than, that I will never get to be an X-Man myself, I still love the world. The characters are my favorite, the world is incredibly rich and complex, the villains are misunderstood and the heroes are conflicted. I’m never going to be not an X-Men fan. Even after being burned by X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine I still found excitement for the series, which was good since the next two were much better. I still have hope, however slim, that I can finish a few books, get noticed by Marvel and be given the chance to write for the X-Men. But even if that never happens, I’m still happy knowing they’re out there.