Top 10: X-Men for the MCU by Jerry Whitworth
With the acquisition of Fox by Disney, the X-Men and Fantastic Four have returned to Marvel Studios. Likely emerging in the fifth phase, it’s unknown how the properties are going to be worked into the pre-existing continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe though speculation has the upcoming WandaVision on Disney+ being its point of entry. Given the depth of the X-Men brand, it’s possible an Avengers approach maybe taken where individual characters could be given films before uniting in a team movie. With this in mind, while founders like Professor X, Cyclops, Beast, Angel, Iceman, and Marvel Girl will undoubtedly emerge in the brand and likely in the inevitable team movie, lets take a look at what individual characters could have their own films. Also, it should be considered Deadpool, Cable, and X-Force are likely to continue in their own bubble for the foreseeable future and younger brands like New Mutants, Generation X, and X-Statix would be fertile ground for Disney+ content.
Son of Corsair (Christopher Summers) and brother of Cyclops (Scott Summers) and Vulcan (Gabriel Summers), Havok (Alex Summers) was part of the doomed airplane flight that saw his family attacked by the alien Shi’ar. While his parents and unborn brother Gabriel were abducted, Alex and Scott were ejected from the plane in a parachute that nearly saw the latter perish from a head injury. Sent to an orphanage, the younger Alex was quickly adopted as Scott languished therein for years. When Alex’s mutant powers manifested, he became the target of the villainous Mr. Sinister of what became an ongoing obsession with the Summers family. Alex crossed paths again with his brother Scott while in college when the mutant Living Pharaoh kidnapped the younger brother to tap into his power and become the nigh-unstoppable Living Monolith. The experience began Alex down the path of playing the role of hero, adopting the identity Havok and beginning a romance with fellow mutant Lorna Dane (Polaris). While a frequent ally and oft times member of the X-Men, Havok and Polaris are best known for their own team in X-Factor. Having his own nemesis in Living Pharaoh/Monolith and team in X-Factor, Havok has the capability to forge his own brand telling his own story. However, given the fame of his brother Cyclops, it’s likely a Havok film may not emerge until after the introduction of the more well known X-Man.
An artificially created slave of Mojoworld, Longshot managed to escape his bonds and found a new life for himself on Earth as a stuntman. Along with his allies Quark, Pup, and Ricochet Rita, Longshot defeated his former master Mojo and his servant Spiral when they gave chase to reclaim their property. Following their victory, Longshot and his allies journeyed to Mojoworld to spearhead a revolution to bring freedom to all of the world’s slaves. This failed and Longshot became a slave again, this time sent to Earth by Mojo to join the X-Men where he started a romantic relationship with teammate Dazzler (leading to a son in the hero Shatterstar). Longshot split his time in the ensuing years between the X-Men and Mojoworld, spending most of this time in the latter in his ongoing struggle against Mojo. Longshot has a rich backstory for his own brand with his own nemesis that can walk between two worlds with Earth-based superheroics and cosmic adventures.
One of the more complicated yet beloved X-Men, Gambit (Remy LeBeau) was kidnapped as an infant and raised by New Orleans’ LeBeau Clan Thieves’ Guild. Referred to as “Le Diable Blanc” (“the White Devil”), it was believed Remy was prophesied to be the one to unite the Thieves and Assassins’ Guilds after their centuries long conflict (eventually leading to a failed marriage with the Assassins’ Bella Donna Boudreaux). Remy bounced between various entities in the organization, becoming dragged into the ongoing conflicts of the X-Men as a teenager when he was contracted by Mr. Sinister. This development saw him witness Logan’s adamantium bonding procedure as part of Weapon X and assemble Sinister’s ruthless band of mercenaries in the Marauders. Parting ways with Sinister, Remy crossed paths with Storm and accepted a position in the X-Men as Gambit. Despite his marriage (which was only political in nature), Gambit began a romantic relationship with teammate Rogue that is viewed as one of the more enduring relationships within the X-Men by fans (second only to Cyclops/Marvel Girl). When Gambit’s role with the Marauders was revealed, he was cast out of the team for a time before being invited back into the fold. From time to time, Gambit switched from hero to villain and vice versa but always returned to Rogue. With a rich backstory and a film that could also double as a feature for Mr. Sinister to bring him into the MCU, Gambit’s popularity guarantees it’s only a matter of time before he is adapted.
Sister of Captain Britain (Brian Braddock) and Jamie Braddock, Psylocke (Betsy Braddock) was a member of S.T.R.I.K.E., Britain’s counterpart to S.H.I.E.L.D., employing her psionic abilities as a frequent ally to Captain Britain. When Mojo kidnapped her to become one of his slaves, Captain Britain and the New Mutants saved her leading to her joining the X-Men and playing a critical role in the defeat of the Marauders. A series of events lead to Betsy switching bodies with the Hand assassin Kwannon where she became Lady Mandarin. An intervention by Wolverine and Jubilee saw Psylocke rejoin the X-Men and form a romantic relationship with teammate Angel. With Captain Britain speculated to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe sixth phase and the Hand becoming available again for Marvel Studios to use with Daredevil returning to the fold this month, Psylocke could form a linchpin to several worlds within the MCU.
Hailing from an alternate dystopian future, Bishop is the brother of Shard and adopted son of Witness (Remy LeBeau). A member of the Xavier’s Security Enforcers (XSE) heading up Omega Squad, Bishop became stranded in the past following a conflict with mutant criminal Trevor Fitzroy. A man out of time, he joined the X-Men whom he idolized as a child. Having seen a recording made by Jean Grey in his future that the X-Men were destroyed from within by a traitor, Bishop sought to alter his future by outing the betrayer. When asking Witness in his time about the revelation and finding the conversation suspect, Bishop believed Gambit to be that traitor. However, when Professor X in the form of Onslaught was revealed to have killed the X-Men, Bishop’s knowledge of the future saved the team and the world. With time travel and the multiverse becoming prominent fixtures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Bishop can be another component of this emerging exploration.
Adopted daughter of Mystique (Raven Darkhölme) and Destiny (Irene Adler) and adopted sister of Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner), Graydon Creed, and Raze Darkhölme, Rogue (Anna Marie) was raised in Mississippi but ran away from home at a young age. Discovering her mutant power when she kissed a boy and put him in a permanent coma, Rogue was found by Mystique and turned into a weapon as part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Wanting Rogue to become a powerhouse, Mystique had the youth attack Ms. Marvel and seemingly drain the hero of all life to permanently acquire her impressive abilities. Over time, the strain of draining the life force of so many people along with fragments of their psyche took a toll on her mind. With few options, she sought out Professor X for help. The development lead Rogue to joining the X-Men and seeking redemption for her past crimes. As noted, this also lead to her forming a romantic relationship with teammate Gambit. With films based on the Sinister Six and Thunderbolts allegedly in development, a Rogue film could be the catalyst for exploring the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and Mystique.
Brother of Magik (Illyana Rasputina) and Mikhail Rasputin, Colossus (Piotr Rasputin) was raised on a collective farm in Siberia before being discovered by Professor X and joining the X-Men. A peaceful and kind man, Colossus’ time in the X-Men saw him make many hard decisions that challenged his personal morality, many times due to his feelings for teammate Kitty Pryde. Colossus suffered from a variety of challenges in his life, from the believed death of his cosmonaut brother Mikhail (who made a habit of apparently dying and returning) to the murder of his parents by the Russian government to the many ups and downs suffered by his sister Illyana. Illyana, also known as Magik, went from being trapped in the dimension of Limbo to being kidnapped by the Russian government and turned into a weapon to dying from the Legacy virus to some aspect of her returning as the demonic Darkchilde. Colossus has been a longstanding and popular member of the X-Men. However, what maybe the most interesting aspect of his emergence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is his connection to Russia. With the upcoming release of the Black Widow film and its exploration of the Red Room and creation of Red Guardian along with characters like the Winter Solider, Abomination, and Ivan Vanko, there’s a rich tapestry waiting to be filled in. Marvel characters such as Red Ghost, Titanium Man, Starlight, Darkstar and Vanguard, Presence, Ursa Major, and Omega Red have their roots in Russia where a Colossus film focused around the hero and his extraordinary family could prove to be fertile ground for development.
Son of Mystique (Raven Darkhölme) and Azazel, half-brother of Graydon Creed, Abyss (Nils Styger), Kiwi Black (Marcus Skarr), and Raze Darkhölme, and adopted brother of Rogue (Anna Marie), Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner) bears a demonic appearance thanks to his father being a Neyaphem, ancient demonic-looking mutants. Thousands of years ago, Azazel was banished to another dimension but his ability to teleport offered him the capability to escape. However, he needed to propagate offspring on Earth to act as anchors to keep him on his native world. Discovering Mystique to have mutant traits that could produce a strong offspring to help anchor him, he wooed her and she bore him a son. His goal achieved, Mystique was left to be hunted by an angry mob when her true appearance was revealed in child birth and her son Kurt abandoned to save him from that same mob. Saved by Azazel, Kurt was discovered by his father’s lover Margali Szardos to be raised as a freak in a Bavarian circus. The while, Azazel aligned with the Hellfire Club, amassed an army of miniature versions of himself called the Bamfs, and plotted to conquer Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. Kurt went on to become Nightcrawler, a prominent member of the X-Men and Excalibur and nemesis of his father. Between Azazel, Hellfire Club, and his complicated family, Nightcrawler has a wealth of content.
Kenyan royalty, Storm (Ororo Munroe) lost her parents when a crashed jet collapsed their home atop of them. Left with a fear of tight spaces, Ororo became an adept pickpocket in Cairo where she crossed paths with Professor X during his search for the Shadow King. Following the emergence of her mutant abilities, Ororo came to be worshiped as a god by a tribe in the Serengeti before being recruited for the X-Men. The character went on one of the most significant journeys of all the X-Men, leading the X-Men and Morlocks, fought Count Dracula and Loki (giving rise to the multiverse’s Bloodstorm and Stormborn the Goddess of Thunder), lost her powers (becoming so-called Punk Storm), started an on-again/off-again relationship with Forge, found a reoccurring foe in the Shadow King, regained her powers, and married the Black Panther T’Challa to become the queen of Wakanda. Given the popularity of the Black Panther brand of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the popularity of the Storm character, it seems more inevitable than not.
The X-Man to already have three solo films, Wolverine is so obvious it almost goes without saying. Born James Howlett but better known as Logan, Wolverine is over a century old and is a member of the Lupine, ancient canine-like mutants believed to have begun with Romulus in prehistoric times. Half-brother of Dog Logan, father of Daken (Akihiro), Erista, Wolverine/X-23 (Laura Kinney), Raze Darkhölme, Reine du Rien, and the Mongrels (Gunhawk/William Downing, Saw Fist, Cannon Foot, and Shadowstalker), foster father of Amiko Kobayashi, cousin of Guardian (James Hudson), Professor Thorton (Truett Hudson), and Victor Hudson, and source material for Albert, Varkis, and Shogun, Logan’s long life has been full of conflict. Finding a nemesis in fellow Lupine Victor Creed (Sabretooth), Wolverine became the subject of experimentation by Nathaniel Essex (Mr. Sinister), was an ongoing subject of interest to the aforementioned Romulus, started a decades long conflict with the Hand, found and lost love in Silver Fox, discovered a father figure (and later bitter foe) in the ninja Ogun, made a slave by Silas Burr (Cyber), trained future Black Widow Natasha Romanoff, served in World War II (sometimes alongside Captain America), and married and had a son in Akihiro only for Romulus to have her murdered and the boy kidnapped to be turned into a tool against his father as Daken.
By the 1960s, Logan was accepted into the Weapon Plus Program which sought to replicate the super soldier process that created Captain America. In its tenth generation (making it the Weapon X Program), subjects were employed by the CIA for the black ops group Team X. Alongside Wolverine was the aforementioned Sabretooth and Silver Fox as well as Maverick, Kestrel, and Mastodon. Despite being conditioned for obedience via telepathy, an encounter Team X had with Russia’s latest subject of their super soldier program in Omega Red indirectly lead to Logan abandoning the program. Joining Department K, something of Canada’s counterpart to the CIA, Logan worked with various intelligence operatives including Nick Fury, Spider-Man’s parents Richard and Mary Parker, and future Miss/Captain Marvel Carol Danvers. It was during a mission with Danvers that Wolverine first tangled with the Hellfire Club and became a reoccurring enemy of the organization. Logan eventually ended up being captured by the Weapon X Program where, under the direction of a group of scientists including his own cousin in Professor Thorton, had adamantium bonded to his bones. Proving to be uncontrollable, Wolverine broke free and was discovered by his cousin James “Mac” Hudson and his newlywed wife Heather. Members of Canada’s Department H, a superhuman based government agency, Wolverine was recruited for their response team Flight. His time in Flight, however, proved short-lived with one of his few known assignments was to face the Hulk in battle. Professor X approached the feral hero to join his X-Men which he accepted.
In the X-Men, Wolverine found a home and family. On one mission where the group aided former teammate Sunfire, Logan met and fell in love with the Japanese mutant’s cousin Lady Mariko Yashida. A member of the Yakuza through her family, Logan had to contend with Mariko’s father Lord Shingen (finding an ally in Shingen’s assassin Yukio). Forced to slay her father, Logan and Mariko were set to be married until her half-brother Keniuchio Harada, the Silver Samurai, attacked and forced a wedge between the couple. Around this time, Wolverine’s acquaintance Ogun re-emerged and tried to use X-Men young teammate Kitty Pryde against his former student. The experience led to a bond between Logan and Pryde that seemed to establish Wolverine as a father figure to many young women in the team including Karma, Jubilee, Armor, and X-23 as he went on to found the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. Over the years, Wolverine’s personal rogues gallery grew to include Lady Deathstrike, Roche, General Nguyen Ngoc Coy, Shiva, Mister X, Gorgon, Wild Child, and the Red Right Hand. Films have already been made loosely adapting the Team X and Mariko storylines as well as the multiversial story Old Man Logan. With access to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, many of these noted connections can now be made possible in the films and Disney+ projects. Various people involved with the MCU have expressed a desire to find some way to adapt the Hulk and Wolverine confrontation. The addition of Wolverine into the MCU maybe the most anticipated aspect of the Fox acquisition.
Honorable mentions: Emma Frost, Kitty Pryde, Sunfire, Thunderbird, Dazzler, Marrow, Blink, Sage, and Siryn.