We love to wax nostalgic at PoP!, but sometimes it’s what’s yet to come that most quickens our nerd pulses. For better or for worse, let’s start the speculation over what’s making us Future Tense.
Let’s face it: the X-Men’s days are numbered. After X-Men: Days of Future Past how many more X-Flicks can Fox wrangle out of the current incarnation? Hugh Jackman is perfect as Wolverine, but he’s only got a few more years left in him before Logan would start to look his age. And realistically, Fox will likely never let the rights to their Merry Mutants revert back to Marvel, denying us the cinematic boondoggle that would be Avengers vs. X-Men. No, a reboot is coming. It might take a while, but it’ll happen. That’s why I’ve taken the burden upon myself to map out the future for the Children of the Atom in not one movie, not a trilogy, but six whole, interconnected films. Keeping what worked in the current franchise, I’ve tried to add elements of the comics that have either yet to be adapted or tweak ones that have already appeared, with the underlining theme of “What would be awesome to see on the big screen?” in mind.
X-Men: Children of the Atom would be the introduction piece. Rather than Wolverine, our central character for this incarnation would be Jean Grey. After suppressing her mutant telepathic/telekinetic powers when they first emerged as a teen, they’re returning a few years later in her early twenties. Her high level of power puts her right in the cross-hairs of two mutant factions. The X-Men are guided by Professor Charles Xavier and are represented by leader Cyclops, his girlfriend Emma Frost, the boisterous Beast and of course Wolverine, who immediately takes a shine to Jean (and the feeling might be mutual.) On the other side is the diabolical genius Sinister and his Marauders, composed of Mastermind, Wild Child, Avalanche, Arclight and Scalphunter. Upon his defeat, Sinister tells the X-Men that he is only the harbinger, and that his master will not be so easy to stop.
X-Men: Legacy sees the story become even more personal. Cyclops and Emma have left to find out more about Sinister’s master, leaving the team unprepared for the assault of Professor X’s stepbrother the Juggernaut. This forces them to call in members Colossus and Shadowcat, who have been establishing a second school in England. Meanwhile, billionaire Warren Worthing III is seeking a cure for mutations. Not for himself; he loves his angelic wings. But his girlfriend Rogue is conflicted about her absorption powers. At the same time, a mysterious individual recruits mutant soldier Abraham Kieros and Japanese mutant Sunfire to his cause. These plots intersect when Angel and Rogue discover the cure is a ruse by none other than the long-lived mutant despot Apocalypse, who brainwashes them and amps up their powers to complete his Four Horsemen. Even though the X-Men defeat Juggernaut, a war looms on the horizon…
X-Men: Age of Apocalypse sees this war come to fruition. The X-Men are reeling when Apocalypse attacks Washington D.C. with his elite Horsemen and army of Dark Riders. To combat the threat they have to enlist all the mutants they can find. Dazzler, M, Strong Guy, Iceman, Rockslide and more, basically tons of cameos. The real wild card is Xavier’s old ally Magneto, who could very well end up siding with Apocalypse. Of course in the end the good guys win, Archangel and Rogue defect to the X-Men and Apocalypse is defeated after massive damage to the nation’s capital.
X-Men: Deadly Genesis uses this damage as a central plot point. Industrialist Bolivar Trask, backed by the mysterious Hellfire Club, fans the flames of anti-mutant hysteria, already burning after Apocalypse’s attack, to roll out his Sentinel robots. Hellfire Black Queen Selene secretly plans to use Trask and his Sentinels to dominate all mutants. Eventually the X-Men must stop the robots at their source, Trask’s industrial space station. Victorious, their ship is damaged before they can return to Earth, forcing one member to sacrifice themself on the journey home. Jean’s the only one who can do it after scanning astronaut Peter Corbeau’s mind, but her sacrifice is short-lived when the cosmic Phoenix Force bonds itself to her, saving the day.
X-Men: Rise of the Phoenix deals with the Hellfire Club’s revenge on the X-Men as Jean adjusts to her new power levels. This borrows heavily from the classic Dark Phoenix Saga and sees Mastermind use his powers to seduce Phoenix to the dark side, abandoning her lover Wolverine. Mastermind over steps himself and unleashes the Dark Phoenix, who destroys the Hellfire Club and then nearly the X-Men themselves. At the last moment, Jean regains control and heads off alone into space to try to tame the power inside her.
X-Men: Fall of the Dark Phoenix furthers her struggle. While she’s in space, the X-Men must deal with a returning Juggernaut and his partner Black Tom Cassidy. Phoenix returns, makes short work of the baddies, and reveals the Shi’ar Imperial Guard is on her tail, determined to wipe out the Phoenix Force. Again borrowing from the Dark Phoenix Saga, the X-Men must battle the Guard in an honor duel for the fate of the Phoenix. Here I’d mix the original comic version and the 90s animated version, making it look like Jean committed suicide to get the Guard to leave, only to be resurrected by the power of the Phoenix and the love of her friends, happy endings all around.
So there you have it, my roadmap to the next incarnation of the X-Men movie franchise. Like it? Hate it? Completely indifferent? Please, let me know below. And Fox, if you’re looking for a screenwriter, I come pretty cheap.