Hugh Jackman as X-Men's Wolverine

No Offense, Wolverine: How Many Marvel Heroes Is Too Many?

With the Disney-Fox deal finalizing in 2019, the X-Men and Fantastic Four are set to join the MCU

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

Earlier this year, Disney bought 21st Century Fox for over 71 Billion Dollars. Yeah I got light-headed just now, too. This purchase effectively gave Disney back all of the Marvel characters sold off in the early 1990s. You see, Marvel didn’t always enjoy the amazing success it has now. The company actually filed for bankruptcy at one point, and had to put up their most recognizable characters (Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, etc.) in order to stay afloat. (Feel free to look it up—we'll wait.) It’s really inspiring to see this brand make it through such a difficult time to become one of the most successful names in Hollywood.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said yesterday that they’re moving forward with plans to include these re-acquired characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe … within a mere six months. For me, personally, this raises a few concerns. The inclusion of Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War (and the MCU) was done pretty well, but imagine adding the X-Men and Fantastic Four. Both of those names have an insane amount of characters and stories of their own.

Where were they during the last 10 years of the films? How are the filmmakers going to cleverly add in a school of mutants, not to mention a family of scientists with a character made of rocks? Incorporating these new stories with the current layout that Marvel has already prepared must be one hell of a task. The only request I make is to absolutely avoid origin stories. For the love of God. These names are so well known that we shouldn’t waste our time with another retread, in my opinion.
Writing these characters into the world isn’t going to be the only obstacle. These are names that are still in the public mind, due to Fox pumping out their respective installments every few years. One of the earliest superhero films I remember was Bryan Singer’s 2000 X-Men. The studio has released many (11!) movies since. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine was such a perfect casting choice (it was originally supposed to be Dougray Scott) that it’s hard to imagine someone else in the role. Now imagine replacing the entire X-men roster with new actors. Patrick Stewart not playing Xavier? Ian McKellen not playing Magneto? Hugh Jackman not playing Wolverine?

People also haven’t forgotten about Fantastic Four. Remember the reboot that came out a few years ago, directed by Josh Trank? How about the films with Chris Evans as Johnny Storm? Folks still make mention about that. Don’t even get me started on the Spider-Man conversation. That was just one character. How do you recast an entire team of people, without alienating fans of the original?

Like it or not, there is going to be a void when Marvel's lead actors hang up their capes (or shields, whatever).

Aside from the obstacles, this is an amazing tactical decision on Marvel/Disney’s part. They are fully aware of the contracts ending with some of their lead actors, who have stuck around for their entire film series. Like it or not, there is going to be a void when they hang up their capes (or shields, whatever). How do you make it so their departures don’t mark the end of this film series? You bring in characters who have stories that are just getting started. What's the best way to achieve that? You introduce characters that you know have far-stretching narratives, that have an established audience who are eager to see where you take them.

Marvel/Disney can be seen as a gigantic powerful conglomerate—that’s because, well, they are—but let’s not forget that this wasn’t always the case. Whatever your opinion, you have to agree that the formula they have is working. We’re in a weird state of comic book films where reboots can happen every few years, and if it’s good, we don’t bat an eye. They could also introduce characters the general public has never even heard of (read: Guardians of the Galaxy) and make them a household name. I can’t wait to see what they cook up next.

Unless they turn Captain America into a Nazi. Please don’t do that.

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