Thanks to Disney’s acquisition of Fox, the X-Men are now under the Disney/Marvel umbrella. And due to the sheer amount of time it takes to make movies, it will have to be years before we see them on the big screen as an integrated part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe–if we ever do. There’s already a slew of movies slated for the next era of the MCU, known as Phase 4: a Black Widow solo film, a Guardians of the Galaxy three-quel, and a Black Panther sequel, just to name a few. There’s even a Shang-Chi film in its planning stages. And none of those involve the X-Men.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, who is notoriously cagey about the future of the MCU, was clear on the X-Men’s hiatus in an interview with io9, where he discussed the new merger:
“It’s all just beginning and the five-year plan that we’ve been working on, we were working on before any of that was set. So really it’s much more, for us, less about specifics of when and where [the X-Men will appear] right now and more just the comfort factor and how nice it is that they’re home. That they’re all back. But it will be a very long time.”
It’s probably for the best; fans will need some time and space to accept anyone as Wolverine other than Hugh Jackman.
But Avengers: Endgame may have already set some X-Men-related plot points, though we may not see them pay off for another decade. And they have everything to do with the three Snaps in Infinity War and Endgame: the first by Thanos, the second by Hulk, and the third by Iron Man.
The Hulk had a potentially key line of dialogue, right before he performed the second Snap at the Avengers compound. He explained to the group that he must be the one to do use the Infinity Stones, because the resulting, massive amounts of gamma radiation they release would kill the average person. And since it was gamma rays that created the Hulk, he would stand the best chance of survival.
But just because everything looked normal on the outside, doesn’t mean it was. What if these gamma rays affected more than just the Snapper, and also mutated people’s genes? Maybe one Snap wouldn’t do that, but there were three Snaps total, and the last two happened in close succession.
If a fraction of that gamma radiation could create a massive green rage monster, what could multiple Snaps, which affected not only Earth but the entire universe, have upon living creatures? And especially the ones closest to the epicenter, on Earth?
Could it cause varied, odd mutations in certain people? Like the ability to absorb life through touch? Or the ability to read minds? Or even the ability to control the weather? It would continue a key, running theme in the MCU: that many of our heroes’ problems are the unintended consequence of trying to do good.
Tony Stark built weapons for America’s troops, only to find out they were being used to kill them. After the Chitauri attack on New York, Stark Industries stepped in to help clean up New York, and inadvertently caused a bitter, unemployed Adrian Toomes to become The Vulture. In Avengers 2, Stark and Bruce Banner created an artificial intelligence to protect the Earth, only for it to gain sentience and grow evil. The Sokovia Accords were meant to bring accountability, but they turned out to be just another level of corrupt bureaucracy.
That the two “positive” Snaps–the first by Hulk, the second by Iron Man–could create such a life-altering, catastrophic effect, would be both thematically consistent and karmically justified. You can’t do or undo something that big, and expect to get away with it scot-free.
So if the Snaps create mutants in the MCU’s future, how will they explain the existence of older mutants, like Magneto and Professor X (assuming they keep the X-Men timeline true to the source material at all)? Maybe by exposure to the Infinity Stones earlier in the timeline, as seen throughout the MCU movies. Nazis experimented with the Tesseract in World War II in Captain America: The First Avenger (in the comics, Magneto was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp as a child), and it was later studied as a part of Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S., which we saw in The Avengers. The Stones could have been in any number of places on Earth or space since the beginning of the universe. And if a young Sabretooth and Wolverine came in contact with a stone centuries ago, they may be lying low, thinking they’re the only mutants out there.
This would also dovetail with Marvel’s timing issue. It might take several years for these mutant “gifts” to manifest; in the comics, they were often latent, triggered by puberty or a moment of trauma. There could be Phase 4 and a Phase 5–perhaps even a Phase Six–before the first wave of new mutants begin appearing.
And lastly, in the comics, Xavier’s mansion was located in Westchester, New York. With the new, upstate Avengers facility now destroyed, what better place to build the mansion than on the land where the last two Snaps occurred? It would be a symbolic gesture on Xavier’s part; he embraces his new students for who they are and how they came to be.
In short, the ending of Endgame is a little too neat. There has to be a loose end or catch to playing God. And this unexpected consequence would be a masterful way to bring the X-Men into the MCU fold where they belong.
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