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X-Men, FF returning to the fold

By Staff | Jan 31, 2018

So Disney’s acquiring a bunch of assets from Fox, and while there are debates to be had about the power of mega-corporations and one entity dominating so much of the entertainment industry, the takeaway for many is: Marvel gets the X-Men and Fantastic Four back.

I’d be lying if I said it wouldn’t be awesome to see a live-action set of adamantium claws spark against that familiar red, white and blue shield (a la Captain America Annual #8), but I’ve got to wonder, would it be worth it?

The Fantastic Four would work. Sure, Tony Stark has the market on go-to tech for the Marvel Cinematic Universe cornered, but with the duration of Robert Downey Jr.’s continued presence in the MCU in question, it might be time for Reed Richards, aka Mister Fantastic, to step up.

The FF could easily slide into the shared universe. A knockdown, drag-out battle between the Thing and the Hulk could eclipse even the awesome Hulkbuster sequence from “Age of Ultron.”

Other characters associated with the Fantastic Four have some fans salivating, particularly Doctor Doom, for whom a solo movie is already in development at Fox. Previous efforts have never quite gotten the villain right, and he doesn’t even need the FF to be a thorn in the side of established Marvel heroes. He’s frequently sparred with Iron Man, although he won’t have the history that’s made Doom’s recent effort to replace Stark as Iron Man in the comics so interesting.

Even though I hold the Tim Story-directed movies in higher regard than a lot of fans, it’s been long enough that a reboot wouldn’t bother me. And the 2015 film… well, a reboot wouldn’t bother me.

The X-Men are a different story.

They have an even longer cinematic pedigree than the MCU, despite a time travel reset and some, shall we say, fuzzy continuity (which honestly reflects the comic book source material as well as anything). The only way to combine both, without starting one over from scratch, would be setting them in different dimensions and bringing them together, hardly out of the question given the genres.

The MCU already has a group of super-powered outcasts hated for the genetic “gifts” bestowed upon them, although outside of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” the Inhumans haven’t really taken off. Despite good casting, the spinoff show missed the mark and concerted efforts to raise their profile in the comics don’t seem to have panned out.

The Inhumans have basically been a stand-in for mutants in the MCU, so introducing mutants there could feel like a retread. It would provide the opportunity to explore the X-Men from the ground up, although that got a solid treatment in “X-Men: First Class.”

The upcoming “Avengers: Infinity War” circles around the Infinity Gems, half a dozen deus ex machinas Thanos wants to wield to control the universe. It’s not inconceivable that some reality-altering hijinks could wind up creating a secret mutant history or altering human DNA to open the door for mutants.

Marvel looks to be rewriting a bit of history by setting 2019’s “Captain Marvel” in the ’90s, and the presence of the shapeshifting Skrulls strongly suggests a mid- or post-credits scene in which someone who’s popped up in the films before is revealed as an alien.

But the X-films and the MCU have more than enough content to continue to produce interesting, entertaining films without a mash-up that would, let’s face it, look amazing. If anyone can pull it off, it’s the folks who have produced nearly two dozen films with “Iron Man 2” as a not-too-shabby low watermark.

I’m just not sure they should.

Evan Bevins is the writer of the webcomic “Support Group.”