Top 10: Mutant Teams for the MCU by Jerry Whitworth
Following the Fox acquisition by Disney, Marvel Studios gained the film rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four. When Kevin Feige, Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer, teased the fifth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he mentioned the addition of ‘mutants’ rather than the X-Men. Perhaps this statement is something as simple as accounting for the Deadpool franchise as a separate entity. Or, this could mean a broader plan for the slate of characters from the brand beyond simply X-Men movies. Lets take a look at some of the teams that could form the foundation of new brands in the Marvel Cinematic Universe beyond the X-Men.
Hailing from the future come to the past to combat his clone Stryfe, Cable (son of Cyclops and Jean Grey’s clone Madeline Pryor) formed the mercenary group Wild Pack with Domino, G.W. Bridge, Garrison Kane, Grizzly, and Hammer to aid him. Forced to change their name to the Six Pack, the group fell apart during a confrontation with Stryfe when Cable left them to die as he made a getaway via teleportation. While Cable moved on to lead the New Mutants into becoming X-Force, the rest of the Six Pack survived with Bridge joining S.H.I.E.L.D. and Kane joining Canada’s Department K (an intelligence organization not unlike the CIA). Kane headed up the covert team Weapon P.R.I.M.E. (which recruited Grizzly) and aligned with Bridge to seek revenge on Cable. Eventually, Cable came to terms with his former teammates and Bridge formed his own Six Pack under S.H.I.E.L.D. Cable appeared in the second Deadpool film as development of a sequel continues despite the acquisition of Fox by Disney, only time will tell if the brand will be folded into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While likely a property like X-Force will have priority, something like the Six Pack is a distinct possibility of coming into reality as the X-Men brands can now play with their Marvel cousins. The details of how Deadpool fits into the MCU would need to be worked out first.
Formed by the enigmatic Timebroker to fix broken realities, the Exiles is a team made up initially of mutants from across multiple timelines and universes. Originally featuring Blink, Morph, Mimic, Thunderbird, Magnus Lensherr (son of Magneto and Rogue), and Nocturne (daughter of Nightcrawler and Scarlet Witch) and followed soon after by Sunfire and Sasquatch, the team and its sister group Weapon X have gone through various incarnations over the years. With the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s move to explore its emerging multiverse, the Exiles are in the perfect position for this new phase. The problem, though, is that given mutants haven’t officially emerged in the MCU yet, a group like the Exiles may not make sense logistically for a number of years.
When the X-Men’s longtime nemesis Magneto reformed and was chosen by Professor X to lead his team of mutants, the group’s original five members resigned to form their own team. Secretly, they operated under the guise of X-Factor, supposed mutant hunters who actually saved their targets from the public, and openly as the X-Terminators employing their costumed personas as superheroes. Saving young mutants such as Rusty Collins (Firefist), Artie Maddicks, Boom-Boom, Rictor, Skids, and Leech, the youths (along with Takeshi Matsuya/Wiz Kid) were summoned to action leading to their adoption of the X-Terminators name. The group didn’t last long, most of its roster merged into the New Mutants. Considering the seeming curse of the New Mutants film, it’s likely Marvel won’t want to touch that brand for a while until people have forgotten about it which is why the lesser known X-Terminators maybe a more viable option (though, likely with a different name). Still, as with Exiles, it maybe too soon to consider a brand with young mutants outside perhaps a Disney+ series.
Formed by the Japanese government in the wake of multiple state-sanctioned superhero groups emerging across the globe, Big Hero 6 was initially lead by reformed X-Men villain Silver Samurai whose roster included Hiro Takachiho, Baymax, Honey Lemon, and GoGo Tomago. Joined in their first mission by former X-Man and Silver Samurai’s cousin Sunfire, the group had an ever-evolving roster including the likes of Ebon Samurai, Sunpyre (Sunfire’s sister from another universe), Wasabi-No-Ginger, and Fred. Loosely adapted as an animated Disney film in 2014 that bloomed into a new brand, Fox’s film ownership of Silver Samurai and Sunfire prevented their inclusion in the project. However, a live action adaptation of the franchise could now be built on the introduction of those same characters in a possible X-Men or Wolverine movie.
Born from the ashes of James “Mac” Hudson’s Flight, a superhero program sanctioned by Canada’s Department H, Alpha Flight is the top tier response team for the United States’ northern cousin. Initially lead by Hudson in the guise of Weapon Alpha (later Vindicator and then Guardian), employing a suit of sophisticated technology, the team included former Flight member Snowbird as well as Shaman, Sasquatch, and twins Northstar and Aurora. One of their earliest known assignments was to capture Wolverine who had resigned from Flight and joined the X-Men, the team soon after added Marrina and Puck to their ranks (with Hudson’s wife Heather taking up her husband’s mantle after his seeming death). Featuring a revolving cast with sub-teams Beta Flight, Gamma Flight, and Omega Flight, the group’s connection to Wolverine is an easy in for bringing the team into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Named after King Arthur’s legendary sword, Excalibur is the United Kingdom’s sanctioned superhero team under the direction of Captain Britain. Formed after the seeming death of the X-Men with Nightcrawler and Shadowcat, the team initially included Meggan and Cyclops and Phoenix’s daughter from a parallel future Rachel Summers. Combating numerous X-Men foes, the team eventually became more closely tied to the struggles Captain Britain faced as a multiversial champion. With Captain Britain speculated to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s sixth phase, the emergence of Excalibur maybe more of a ‘when’ than ‘if’ they will appear. Add to the fact the Black Knight will emerge in the upcoming Eternals movie and Morgan le Fay already appeared in the Runaways and a lot of the groundwork has already been set for the brand.
Formed by the CIA from subjects of the tenth generation of the Weapons Plus Program (Weapon X) to create super soldiers like Captain America, Team X was a black ops program based out of Canada under the auspices of Department K. Counting Wolverine, Sabretooth, Silver Fox, Maverick, Kestrel, and Mastodon among their number, Team X performed deep cover work across the globe throughout the 1960s. The team largely collapsed after a confrontation with Omega Red, Russia’s latest attempt at their version of the super soldier, but its members were later kidnapped and experimented upon (giving Wolverine his adamantium skeleton as a consequence). Wolverine managed to escape following his adamantium infusion and the group again largely crumbled. Retroactively, it was revealed the program was largely under the influence of Romulus, an ancient mutant part of the Lupine, canine-like mutants that include Wolverine and Sabretooth. The group was loosely adapted for the 2009 film X-Men Origins: Wolverine but the project was largely panned by fans and critics alike. Being so integral to Wolverine’s history, Team X will undoubtedly appear in some fashion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
As noted, X-Factor was initially formed by the founding members of the X-Men when Magneto was chosen by their mentor Professor X to take over the team. However, arguably the best known iteration of X-Factor came later when it became a United States-sponsored entity under the direction of Cyclops’ brother Havok. Coordinated by secret agent Valerie Cooper, former X-Men and assorted allies Havok, Polaris, Quicksilver, Multiple Man, Strong Guy, and Wolfsbane replaced Freedom Force (largely made up of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants to commute their acts of terrorism) as a superhero unit operating for the interests of the United States. Of the big three X-teams with X-Men and X-Force already adapted for film, odds are high X-Factor will be adapted considering already in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Avengers are viewed as a failed United Nations-sanctioned entity and it is speculated the Thunderbolts are coming sooner rather than later. As the United States seeks to have more control over the superhero narrative, something like X-Factor makes a great deal of sense especially in the face of the undoubted coming of the X-Men.
Founded by Magneto towards his goals for world domination, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants included his children Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch with Toad and Mastermind. When the Maximoff twins reformed and Mastermind seemingly died, the group grew to include the Blob, Unus, and Lorelei before being disbanded. Arguably as well known as its earlier incarnation, Mystique reformed the Brotherhood, bringing back the Blob and adding her wife Destiny, adopted daughter Rogue, and mutants Pyro and Avalanche as terrorists. In time, the group came to work for the United States as Freedom Force to commute their crimes. Noted with X-Factor, with the speculated emergence of the Thunderbolts, something like Freedom Force is prime to represent a counter to the X-Men.
Following the dissolution of the Six Pack, Cable recruited the New Mutants to his cause forming the new group known as X-Force. Cannonball and Boom-Boom transitioned over and were joined by Domino (in reality, Copycat in disguise), Shatterstar (Longshot and Dazzler’s son from the future), Warpath (Thunderbird’s brother), and Feral to form its initial roster. Proving to be popular with fans, X-Force developed a following second only to the X-Men. Loosely adapted for the second Deadpool film in 2018, X-Force was largely played for comedic effect (virtually its entire roster horribly killed) with Deadpool, Cable, and Domino left to pick up the team for the future. As noted, development of a third Deadpool film continues and only time will tell if it will be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If so, we’ve already seen X-Force before the MCU X-Men have technically emerged. Of course, with the development of the multiverse in the MCU, there can easily be a Fox X-Men team and MCU X-Men team at the same time.
Honorable mentions: Starjammers, New Mutants, Generation X, X-Statix, Wildways Rebellion, X-Ternals, XSE: Xavier’s Security Enforcers, and the United Council of Tribes.