The X-Men cinematic universe was the first major franchise launched in this modern era of comic book blockbusters. The original X-Men film managed to successfully lay in the groundwork of how these types of films can be a success without losing their comic book soul.
The sequel was a massive leap forward in both action and general cinematic quality. While the other sequels have received mixed reviews, it was clear that despite the reboot happy tendencies of modern hollywood. Fox remained committed to the continuity of the universe they established in 2000.
Just a few weeks ago The Avengers made more money than conceivable in its debut, representing the culmination of a five-year, 6 movie plan. The newly established ‘shared universe’ model demonstrated by Marvel Studios could be a new gold standard for what a studio can do with these types of properties.
So it is with that context that I present my plan for a smaller scale ‘shared X-universe’ that can allow Fox to use it’s already established property in an exciting new way.
The general concept is to create two ‘new franchises’ that you can use to establish a new set of characters in the familiar X-Men world. New Mutants would focus on a set of new Xavier School students and X-Factor would focus on a government sponsored mutant team headed by Mutant Ambassador Dr. Henry McCoy.
Here is a detailed breakdown of the first movie:
New Mutants -
It has been ten years since Magneto’s terrorist attack on San Francisco. The existence of mutants is no longer a nebulous concept argued about in the senate. Mutant kind has reached its second true generation, with children growing up day-dreaming of super powers, or having nightmares of waking up blue.
In the wake of the attack, a vocal minority who advocated mutant work camps and imprisonment gained notoriety. The Friends of Humanity, headed by their fiery and charismatic leader Graydon Creed started as a grassroots political movement have spent the last decade become a full-fledged political force. Helped in no small part by the growing mutant fear in the average joe, Creed is a serious candidate in the upcoming presidential elections.
The world is torn. On one side mutant fear and paranoia has never been more rampant, boiling over to violence in many places. On the other hand the new generation of mutants is even larger than the last and young people everywhere have grown much more accepting of mutant kind.
Xavier’s school has changed in this new world. No longer a secret mutant training institution, the school now serves as a safe harbor for all students who show interest in mutant/human equality. Going so far as to allow non mutant students to take education classes on its campus.
New headmaster Dr. Henry McCoy, one of Professor Xavier’s first students and official Mutant Ambassador to the US government. McCoy’s role in these first two films is not unlike Nick Fury in the Marvel movies, he is the glue that sort of keeps all of this mutant action together and will not play a truly pivotal role until X-Men 4.
Arriving at the school for their first year, three siblings from a small town in Kentucky serve as the perspective characters for the film. Their introduction to the school and the students will also serve as the audience’s re-introduction to the universe.
These three siblings are the Guthries. Eldest Sam (Cannonball) has the ability to become invincible while propelling himself like a rocket at very high speeds. His younger sister is Paige (Husk), a smart and headstrong young woman with the ability to change the molecular structure of her skin underneath the dead layer on top. The youngest is Jay (Icarus), who like previous X-Man Angel has wings, only his are red.
Owing to the increased notoriety of Mutant Kind a second school has sprouted up in Massachusetts, in contrast to the more open door policy of Xavier’s, The Massachusetts Academy is open only to mutants and focuses more on training and combat readiness for the coming war between man and mutant. Both schools see each other as brothers and rivals with drastically different concepts of the future of mutant kind, not unlike the differences between Magneto and Xavier themselves so many years prior.
Early on in the school year both schools engage in an extracurricular fight outside of school that causes the destruction of several buildings in a suburb between Boston and New York. This event is twisted by Graydon Creed allowing him to play of people’s fears and win the presidency.
His first act as President is to enact a radical new defense program aimed at protecting civilians from the rampant and unchecked actions of mutants, the Sentinel Program. A squadron of building sized robots that can detect mutants and detain them.
By the end of the school year, tensions have bubbled to the surface and the students at Xavier’s School fight a tug of war, with their peers on one side advocating mutant action and many non-mutants on the other, bolstered by a radical US President, advocating mutant encampment. President Creed has also finished his prototype Sentinels with the help of Dr. Valerie Cooper who wants to find a solution to the Mutant unrest, but fears Sentinels might be going too far. Against her objections President Creed unleashes the Sentinels.
At the same time the students of Xavier’s Institute and the Massachusetts Academy are in downtown Boston in an attempt by both headmasters to increase the camaraderie of the students and the schools. This obviously fails and a fight breaks out. As the first mutant powers are used, the newly unleashed Sentinels make for their location,
A fight between the young New Mutants, students of the Massachusetts academy and the Sentinels breaks out and it becomes a mess, destroying large sections of Boston. Not only that, but two of the young new mutants. are killed (obviously identity held back, don’t want to give away the big surprises) and the Massachusetts Academy is destroyed.
In the wake of dead kids, a destroyed school and documented proof that President Creed unleashed untested, weaponized tech onto the US population. he is impeached. The Sentinel program is scrapped and the New Mutants and what is left of the Massachusetts academy are left to rebuild the pieces.
The only characters that I feel are required in that story are the ones named, which allows for any number of characters from the ‘First Class’ prequel franchise to exist in this universe as well. You would simply only need to make established characters adults and teachers, while un-introduced characters can be the students.
Now onto much more basic outline of the next film:
Ambassador McCoy is familiar with Dr. Cooper, and is especially impressed with her attempt to clean up the Sentinel incident. The two of them decided that a government-run program to help smooth over mutant incidents is still a good idea, only this time run by Mutants.
McCoy goes to Jamie Madrox, a federal prisoner who was captured as apart of Magneto’s terrorist organization. Due to his non-violent past record, and his bloodless hands in the Magneto incident, Madrox is freed under the condition he leads McCoy’s new team.
This team is made up of Mutants who have either been captured by police or the military with non-violent tendencies, or were mutant police officers or soldiers who were allowed to transfer. The main thrust of their initial investigations are the growing rumors of a Mutant colony underneath the streets of New York.
This would lead X-Factor into a Mutant Massacre inspired storyline as these Morlocks are being used as experiments by the mysterious ‘Mr. Sinister’… The question of just what his experiments are for will be very important.
X-Factor uses the Mutant Massacre story-line as a point of inspiration, but the nature of the team sees them exploring several other mysteries during the film… including strange magnetic phenomenon that interest Madrox greatly.
If New Mutants re-establishes the modern X-Men world, X-Factor is introducing the initial elements of the much larger story arch that will take the next several films to play out. From this point you would move onto an X-Men proper movie… heck if done faithfully enough you could even consider it X-Men 4.
From this point on I will give bullet points to the major developments that happen in the next film or films culminating in an Avengers sized free for all that involves all mutant kind. I would warn of spoilers but that might just seem arrogant on my part:
-Xavier is still alive, he is in the comatose body from the end of X-Men 3 and he uses his powers to project his image into people’s minds.
-Magneto is in hiding, but always planning. He found refuge in the small island nation of Genosha. His powers have returned at a much smaller level than before.
-Mr. Sinister is genetically altering a set of ‘super mutants’ for a client
-He also doesn’t trust his client so he is simultaneously using the two most powerful samples he has to create another mutant under his control, more powerful than anything else he creates.
-I realize that Dazzler’s role went unmentioned prior. She is a former student of Xaviers and is a role model to the New Mutants. Imagine if Lady Gaga was an alumnus to your school. This excites certain young students.
-She also plays an important role in X-Factor as a contact/spy for the team.
-Phoenix does not return, but her lineage comes into play.
-A seemingly obviously ‘dead’ original X-Man returns, he was picked up by Sinister and plays an important part in his plans
-The New Mutants, X-Factor and the X-Men all must join forces to stop a very potent international threat.
-The first movie would be their attempts to stop his rise, and should they fail… the second movie would be about them stopping him… honestly that part is dependant on some of the smaller details that are established in the previous movies
So there you have it. That would be my road map to making the X-Men franchise the jewel of Fox’s comic franchises once again. Luckily what Fox has done in keeping continuity alive allows for them to leverage the good will from previous movies and jump into a shared universe that is already established. Basically all the previous X-Films work as Iron Man one and two, while the new movies would be Thor and Cap… culminating in an X-Men true sequel that rivals the scope of The Avengers.
If you read this far, let us know what you think in the comments section. Do you have any ideas to add? I feel like at the very least this is a fun exercise to get lost in.