Following the first announcement that the Sony-owned Spider-Man would appear in films in Marvel Studios’ Avengers universe, fans became giddy with the idea that our friendly neighborhood webslinger would get to interact with people like Iron Man. In fact, that’s exactly what they got in Captain America: Civil War in what were easily the best scenes of that movie. Since then, fans have been clamoring extra loudly for the Fox-owned X-Men characters to merge with the MCU. Recently, director Joe Russo said not to expect a melding any time soon. I’m here to say, it shouldn’t happen ever.
In an interview with ComicBook.com, Joe Russo (who will be directing the next two Avengers movies with his brother Anthony) explained that Spider-Man being in Cap 3 was kismet. “Sony and Marvel had a relationship through [Marvel Studios head] Kevin [Feige] and [Spider-Man producer] Amy [Pascal] and through us and Amy. That’s really how Spider-Man came about,” Russo said. “It requires a certain alchemy and a very special situation for studios to share properties.” He later added the caveat, “I don’t know if behind-the-scenes there were conversations or if there are conversations happening but we certainly haven’t heard of any.”
Certainly there’s no love lost between Marvel Studios and Fox and unless there are major shakeups at either camp, we’re very unlikely to get an amiable co-habitation between the two film universes. And since Fox just had a certified hit with Deadpool and are at work making new film and TV projects like Legion, they won’t be selling their rights any time soon.
As far as I’m concerned, the Fantastic Four can go back to Marvel or just never be made in to movies again, but why is everyone so gung-ho about bringing the mutants of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters into the same fold as Tony Stark and Thor? I’ve always felt that, of all of Marvel’s umbrella titles, the X-universe were the ones that could easily stand on their own, completely devoid of connections to the others. And in fact, through the bulk of the books I’ve read, that’s exactly how it’s been. The Avengers was a combination of four of the biggest single-title heroes in the imprint so it’s all about inclusion; X-Men needs to be an outlier, a mistreated loner for it to really work.
The Hulk, Spider-Man, and Wolverine have certainly interacted quite a bit in the comics, but overall it’s always felt really weird for the mutants and the other superheroes to coexist in the same world. Why should people love Captain America and Spider-Man, both genetically-modified superhumans, but look down on mutants simply because they were born with the same kinds of modifications? It’s because they shouldn’t, and for the allegory at the heart of the X-Men books to work, they need to be in a world where humans fear them for being the only ones different, and the only ones to have these exceptional powers, from birth. It muddies both continuities if they have to deal with each other, and in the comics that never really worked for me.
But even beyond that, the X films are prepared to go super weird in a way Marvel Studios never will, which is actually just like the comics. In the ’70s and moving forward, the X-Men books were the place where crazy shit could happen in every issue. A time-travel, world-changing two-issue arc? Sure, why not? A whole saga about going to outer space to save a fallen comrade who’d been taken over by a hugely powerful dark entity? Go for it! Maybe have the entire universe get re-written because of a single angry mutant with daddy issues? It’s where the seriously strange stuff can happen, and it doesn’t need Asgardians or Ant-Men.
This has transferred to cinema quite nicely. Fox is embracing the utter craziness of the X-Men books and puts it right there on the screen. Movies can be good or bad, but they succeed or fail on the choices made by the filmmakers and not the homogenized output of the brand. They made a whole movie with the sole purpose of undoing the garbage of the last couple movies, for crying out loud! Do you think Marvel Studios would try something like that? Would they have taken a chance to make a movie as true-to-the-book as Deadpool even if it meant risking the family-friendly nature of their output? And X-Men: Apocalypse was an enormous mess, but the very fact that it could be a big ol’ pile of nuts proves that they’re willing to take chances.
Marvel Studios has honed a brand and been very successful doing it, but with that success has come a certain degree of sameness. There’s a safety built in to the movies they make that they need to be good, sometimes great, but need to push things forward into the next installment. It’s a new paradigm. Their movies are always enjoyable, but rarely very risky (Guardians of the Galaxy notwithstanding). On the other hand, Fox’s X-Men films are split just about down the middle in terms of great ones and bad ones. For every Deadpool or Days of Future Past, there’s also an X-Men Origins: Wolverine or X-Men: The Last Stand. Like the mutants themselves, they’re not perfect, but they’re certainly interesting.
As great as it would be to see Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine take on Mark Ruffalo’s CGI Hulk, it serves both Marvel and Fox and what they’ve each created to blaze their own trail and never the twain shall meet.
Let me know your thoughts on such things (and likely yell at me and tell me I’m wrong) in the comments below!
What if Thor’s hammer met Juggernaut at full speed?
Images: Marvel Comics: Jim Cheung/Marvel Studios/Twentieth Century Fox