The X-Men join the MCU: Everything you need to know


Disney has finally acquired the rights to Fox’s previously owned X-Men characters. Here’s how things can change for the Uncanny X-Men in theaters.

There’s a lot of talk about the X-Men being integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The uncanny group has always been a part of Marvel, but for nearly the last 20 years, they’ve kept to themselves in the movie world. So, how was that all possible up until now? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about the X-Men joining the MCU.

Why are the X-Men moving to the MCU in the first place?

The quick version: The X-Men characters were once owned by Fox. But now that Fox has been acquired by Disney, it gets to join the Disney-owned Marvel Studios, home of the MCU.

The long version: In the mid-to-late ’90s, Marvel Comics was on the brink of failure and filed for bankruptcy. While it may sound ridiculous for the super successful company now, Marvel Comics had been slipping, and part of its plan to find its footing was to sell off its characters’ rights to movie studios. 21st Century Fox was among those studios, which acquired the rights to the X-Men.

While the X-Men movies under Fox were successful, eventually, Marvel rose like a dark phoenix from its ashes. Along the way, Marvel created its own studio, Marvel Studios, so it could get all the profits from its films (versus splitting it with other studios) using the remaining characters that it had rights to.

By 2009, Disney bought Marvel Studios, with the 20+ MCU movies now all being under Disney’s name one way or another. Then, much like how Thanos was on the search for Infinity Stones for power, Disney’s ultimate power move to date was purchasing 21st Century Fox. After a year and a half of negotiations, the acquisition was fully completed on March 20. That, of course, means Disney has inherited the rights to the X-Men and could finally use them in Marvel Studios movies.

When will the X-Men appear in the MCU?

Marvel Studios currently has its plate full with new movies after Avengers: Endgame. Those movies have not been officially announced by Marvel Studios, but they are certainly at various stages of production. These include the Black Widow solo movie, The EternalsBlack Panther 2, Doctor Strange 2, Shang-Chi, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Those are six solid movies that may take us at least through 2022.

Unless Marvel Studios has the extra resources to pull off an X-Men movie in between this three-year period, it’s unlikely that the mutants won’t be integrated into the MCU for some time. We could possibly see a character or two pop up, in those films, but I wouldn’t bet on it being too significant.

Are there any leftover X-Men movies from Fox?

Fox’s X-Men legacy has at least one confirmed movie that will be out later this year. The Sophie Turner-led film Dark Phoenix is still scheduled to come out June 7. Fox’s second project, New Mutants, is up in the air. The Hollywood Reporter says the movie is still expected to come out on Aug. 2, but it’s up to Disney to ultimately figure out what to do with it.

Do all my favorite actors get to stay in the MCU?

Yes and probably (definitely) no. If you count Ryan Reynolds as one of your favorites, then yes. Disney CEO Bob Iger is fine with having the R-rated character Deadpool stay on the movie scene under Disney, so it seems like Ryan Reynolds will be solidly locked into place.

Post-Dark Phoenix, the fate of the other actors returning to the MCU is unknown. At this point in the franchise, Fox’s X-Men have ridiculously complicated stories thanks to prequel movies that shook up the timeline. So, at this point, it’s probably better that MCU starts with a clean slate, actors and all.

How will the X-Men appear in the MCU?

Right now, it’s uncertain exactly how the X-Men will appear in the MCU. Some fans have hoped that mutants could show up as early as Avengers: Endgame, which is out April 26. But this would be highly unlikely, given Marvel technically couldn’t have been able to use those characters up until this point.

It may not be until 2022 or beyond that when we begin to slowly but surely see X-Men characters like Storm or Professor Xavier on the big screen again. Luckily, Marvel Studios has a plethora of ways the X-Men could work their way into the MCU.

Are there any other Marvel characters from Fox that Disney has now?

The Marvel characters Disney’s acquired doesn’t stop at the X-Men. Fox also held the rights to Fantastic Four characters, and now that’s coming back home to Marvel Studios, too. Now, not only does Marvel have to find a way to bring in the X-Men, but it also could bring in characters Reed Richards and even Doctor Doom.

Doctor Doom movie had been in the works, but it has been stalled for some time. The Noah Hawley movie, at this point, is just waiting to be made. Endgame director Joe Russo has added that he’d love to see Hawley’s take on the character.  But does Marvel President Kevin Feige feel the same way? Only time will tell.

What Marvel characters aren’t owned by Disney at this rate?

Out of the characters Disney has acquired for Marvel Studios, Disney can’t get into the Spider-Verse. Disney has come to some agreement with Sony (which has rights to Spider-Man characters) in letting Spider-Man appear in its movies such as Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity and Endgame. In return, MCU characters like Iron Man and Nick Fury can show up in Sony movies like Spider-Man: Homecoming and Far From Home.

Marvel Studio’s deal with Universal for Namor the Sub-Mariner is currently “complicated.” Fans have gotten their hopes up that he could appear in the MCU soon, but so far, there’s been no confirmation that the character is 100 percent free to use by Marvel Studios. Universal also owns distribution rights to any standalone Hulk movie, which is why we only see Bruce Banner in movies where he’s a co-lead now, such as with Avengers or Thor: Ragnarok.

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Marvel certainly has its work cut out for it when it comes to using its newly acquired characters. Which X-Men-Avengers team up would you like to see in the future?