The X-Men and the rest of mutantkind coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been heavily discussed ever since the ink dried on the Disney/Fox buyout back in 2019. During Comic-Con of that same year, Kevin Feige declared that yes, they and the Fantastic Four would be brought into the fold with Spider-Man, the Avengers and the Inhumans various TV characters.
And now that San Diego Comic-Con is this weekend — and Marvel Studios is attending for the first time in three years — everyone’s got mutants on the brain.
Ask anyone with a passing interest for the X-Men or MCU, and they’ve likely got a list of three or more theories for how the mutants will show up. Were they snapped into existence via Thanos or Bruce Banner? Are they being ported over from the multiverse or in a pocket dimension? Will we just start in 2024 with Charles Xavier making an attempt to gather mutants and start from there? These are just some of the more common theories floating around. There’s so many X-Men, and even more mutants generally that in theory, any possibility for how they get introduced is valid. We already know that some will get brought in via other movies or TV shows rather than a proper X-Men film, but the larger mutant race presents a much bigger hurdle than a handful of individuals.
Complicating matters further is the state of mutants outside of the films. While the upcoming X-Men ‘97 series serves as a nice hit of nostalgia, the mutants of the comics are going full steam ahead towards the future. In 2019, Marvel launched House of X, a miniseries by Jonathan Hickman, RB Silva, Pepe Larraz, and Marte Garcia that upended the mutant mythos. The sentient island of Krakoa has become home to nearly all the mutants, While still hated and feared by the larger Marvel universe, mutants are now taking matters into their own hands, and even taking the time to celebrate their greatness. Over the last three years, various comics have delved into mutantkind’s unique experiences with magic, transhumanism, religion, and ascension to cosmic prominence.
Mutants living on their own island and just not caring about the outside world is an interesting concept, one with the potential for exciting stories isolated from the various plates spinning during Phase Four. But what’s made the mutants taking their destiny (of X) into their own hands so satisfying is that it was the kind of soft reboot the characters needed. Recall that prior to this, Marvel was basically treating the mutants like redheaded stepchildren due to not owning the rights to those characters, leading to the creative decision to underpromote the X-books and gradually kill the species off by way of a war with the Inhumans. And even what that war eventually ran its course, the mutants still had to get beaten down a little bit more before they were allowed to have a utopia and repopulate their people.
“Hated and feared” is the theme of Marvel’s mutants, which neither Fox’s films nor Marvel’s comics in the early to mid 2010s knew entirely what to do with. In the comics, this was especially egregious, since superpowered people save the world with a reliable regularity that mutant discrimination feels even sillier. Mutant as metaphor already began to grow tiresome long before 2019, and will feel even more in poor taste now as Marvel tries to make bigger, often uneven grasps at social commentary in their films and TV series. An evolution is required, but to adapt House and do it justice would admittedly require a decent runup so as to feel appropriately triumphant when Krakoa is revealed in its seemingly idyllic splendor.
At Marvel, movies and comics influence each other an equal amount, and the MCU has shown a desire to get considerably stranger now more than it did a decade ago. An island of superpowered people sounds like the right way for these mutants to feel distinct from Fox’s batch and avoid just retreading the same ground. Whether Marvel Studios is willing to give that a shot and let the mutants be as weird as they’re purported to be in universe remains to be seen, either this weekend, or at D23 in September.