A new report from The Hollywood Reporter claims “the reset button has been pressed” by Fox on the X-Men movie franchise. But what if instead of rebooting their film universe, they joined Marvel Studios instead? I think Doctor Strange might have just given them their best opportunity.
THR's report says in part:
[X-Men:] Apocalypse, directed by Bryan Singer, earned $544 million worldwide, a sharp drop from the $748 million made by previous entry X-Men: Days of Future Past. What's more, stars Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult have come to the end of their three-picture contracts. If new studio chairman Stacey Snider wants them to return, they won't come cheap. “You're gauged by the success of the franchise,” says box-office analyst Paul Degarabedian. “This one didn't engender the love of previous movies. It's time to go back to the drawing board.”
They mention producer Simon Kinberg is working on a new script that might reconfigure the whole series but that they are writing it with hopes towards those lead actors returning. They also say insiders have told them director Bryan Singer would not return.
But the report isn't limited to the X-Men films alone; they also make a note of recent troubles with the Deadpool sequel (director Tim Miller departing the project) as well as Channing Tatum's Gambit still languishing, now without a director attached. What Fox does have going for them right now is the last Wolverine film starring Hugh Jackman, Logan, and a possible New Mutants spin-off. But what if, instead of trying to create a massive overall of the X-Men series, they let Marvel take the reins this time?
While we've yet to see the full success of Marvel's deal with Sony considering Spider-Man: Homecoming hasn't been released, Tom Holland told THR he's contracted for a lot more. They write, “Holland says he's on board for three Spider-Man solo movies and three appearances as the web-slinger in other Marvel Cinematic films.” Those numbers include Homecoming and his Captain America: Civil War appearance. Here's a reminder of how the Sony/Marvel agreement was explained last year by Variety:
Sony needed to breathe life into its “Spider-Man” franchise; by lending its character to Marvel, it has a way to generate more exposure for its bigscreen hero. Doing so also creates some serious goodwill among Spider-Man fans, who have wanted to see the character become part of the Avengers.
Marvel now gets access to one of the comicbook company”s most popular characters – it already controlled the rights for TV, merchandise and other platforms, but the holy grail for Disney has lately been film, where it has been able to launch franchises that impact the bottom line of all of its various divisions.
Does this sound familiar? The X-Men films have certainly been successful financially, but once the MCU debuted, fans realized how much better their superhero stories could be. I think many would love the chance to see Marvel Studios make X-Men films, not to mention seeing those characters interact with their non-mutant heroes just as they do in the comics.
So, could this happen? Anything is possible, but if Fox was willing to make a deal with Marvel, Scott Derrickson's Doctor Strange gives them a big opening to insert the characters without it being weird.
WARNING: SPOILERS FOR DOCTOR STRANGE BEYOND THIS POINT:
Doctor Strange introduced us to a few new things, most importantly, the multiverse – the possibility of alternate realities in the MCU. It also introduced time manipulation through the Eye of Agamotto and officially revealed it as an Infinity Stone. At the culmination of the final battle against Dormammu, Mordo chastises Strange for using the Eye in the way that he did (“The bill always comes due!”). That Stephen's choices could have serious repercussions. See where I'm going with this?
Peter Sciretta at /Film spoke to Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige about the time aspect of Doctor Strange's plot:
Peter: But the cynic side of me says that now that you”ve introduced time travel–
Kevin: And reverse everything every time something bad happens.
Peter: Yeah. So how do we get around that? How is that like you can”t just undo any death or…?
Kevin: You”ll have to see. But certainly, that is something that we were aware of. And even if you look at it, you know, if Doctor Strange using those powers the way he has learned how to use them wants to go back in time to watch Washington cross the Delaware, he has to go like this for 200 years? I mean, it”s essentially real time, right? So it”s you don”t get a lot of, there”s not a lot of leeway there. If he wants to keep re-eating an apple, I guess he doesn”t have to buy apples again. I suppose he can eat an apple and get an apple. But that is something that we are acutely aware of. One of the reasons why we – and by the way, if he uses it for too long as we saw the first time he does it with the apple, space-time starts to fracture. So there are limitations that we introduce in this movie that we see later. In future films.
While Derrickson has specified what they do in the film is not time travel as we know it but manipulation, it stands to reason its use will get Thanos' attention, leading him to attempt to claim the Time Stone for himself. We can only assume at this point he will succeed, gaining full access to the Infinity Gauntlet and cause a lot of trouble for our heroes and the universe at large. In another /Film interview, Feige basically confirms this scenario and adds to the infinite possibilities:
Peter: So how much of this is like setting up some of what we might see, with our heroes in different times and dimensions and…?
Kevin: Yeah, I mean, I think it clearly is setting up certain things. In the immediate future, being the movies, we”ve announced… I think those with knowledge of the comics may expect things that will not be happening in the movies. Those who don”t know what has happened in the comics will be shocked at what we do. But yeah, once that Gauntlet is on, as the poster of Doctor Strange says, “the impossibilities are endless.” How do you fight that? How can you defeat that? So we play into all of that. We play into all that stuff. I don”t know that we”ll get into Earth 1 thru 616 in any one moment anytime soon.
How do you fight that? With a bunch of powerful mutants, that's how.
I don't even know if Marvel is actively trying to bring the X-Men into the MCU, but I know myself and a lot of other fans would be excited by the prospect. If Marvel does want to try, now seems like the perfect time.