Marvel Studios is certainly at a crossroads at the moment. The once indestructible brand where every film was an out-of-the-ballpark hit had its share of disappointments in 2023. There are a myriad of reasons for this, chiefly too much content in too short a time, and not enough of them were “events.” (Spider-Man: No Way Home notwithstanding). Aside from cutting back on films and shows drastically, there is a solution for this MCU malaise. And that solution involves putting the Avengers and the X-Men on screen together at last, and probably in Secret Wars.
A big part of the solution is to truly make the next Avengers film an event that even the most jaded and burnt-out MCU fans would have to check out in theaters—a proper Avengers/X-Men crossover. Certain hints that have popped up recently suggest Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Marvel’s Mutants are headed for a collision course with multiversal ramifications. Whether or not Avengers: The Kang Dynasty actually happens as planned, we do believe that the next Avengers film will feature the two iconic Marvel teams at odds.
The X-Men Hints So Far in the MCU
Since Disney acquired Fox back in 2019, fans have been asking “So when are the X-Men coming to the MCU?” Even She-Hulk asked it in her own show. And so far, Marvel Studios has been playing the long game, not jumping into anything. We got the mutant hint in Ms. Marvel, and Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier in Multiverse of Madness. Plus, the news of Hugh Jackman returning as Wolverine in Deadpool 3. Heck, we’re not convinced that Evan Peters’ Quicksilver in WandaVision isn’t more than he seems and not just a gag.
Now, The Marvels has revealed yet another connection to the X-Men universe with the return of Kelsey Grammar as Beast, working in the X-mansion from the original films. An incursion event with the X-Men universe and the 616 seems imminent, and that can only mean we’re getting an Avengers vs. X-Men project. And in fact, Avengers: Secret Wars could very likely be rebranded as Avengers/X-Men: Secret Wars. An announcement of that magnitude would blow the doors off of San Diego’s Hall H, and stop all talk of “Marvel Fatigue” dead in its tracks. Just from a mercenary business perspective, it makes sense. But frankly, it’s also a story fans have waited decades to see.
Will These MCU Mutants Be the X-Men We Know?
The big question is, which X-Men are we dealing with here? Beast was working in a lab that looked identical to the underground medical bay in the Fox X-Men films. The Charles Xavier we saw in Doctor Strange on Earth-838 seemed very reminiscent of the one from X-Men: The Animated Series. But the Scarlet Witch killed that Charles. Obviously, the Charles that the Beast refers to seems to be very much alive. So, this is another hint that Beast is in the classic X-Men movie universe, not Earth-838. Or, at least, a version of the classic Fox X-Men world. And yes, we know his appearance looks different. We remind you that the look of comic book Beast is continually evolving. No reason to think the live-action Henry McCoy would be any different.
X-Men: Days of Future Past May Hold the Answer
Fans of the Fox X-Men films know that the timeline and continuity of those films are a bit of a mess. And that’s putting it mildly. But at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past, Logan’s adventures in the past caused him to wake up in a new present. Essentially, a “happy ending” future, where Xavier is still alive. The school was open, and former tragically dead X-Men like Cyclops and Jean Grey were alive and well. In fact, Kelsey Grammer’s Beast was there too, in a cameo moment.
Given one of music cues in The Marvels’ post-credits scene is from Days of Future Past, we think that they’re trying to tell us that we’re in that “happy ending” reality from that film. A reality that takes the best elements of the original movies and loses the things viewers hated. Mainly, the random and arbitrary deaths of the main X-Men. So, in short, it’s a new X-Men universe, made up of bits and pieces of the old one. And part of what it’s keeping is the classic actors. The rest is up to the filmmakers.
Deadpool 3 May Set the Stage for Avengers/X-Men: Secret Wars
With three confirmed X-Men characters back, there’s no telling who else might show up coming up soon. There are rumors already that Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, and James Marsden are back for Deadpool 3 as Storm, Jean Grey, and Cyclops, respectively. Patrick Stewart has all but confirmed he’s back too. What’s to stop Anna Paquin, Shawn Ashmore, Alan Cumming, and Rebecca Romijn from returning as well? If you’re going to bring back the OG X-Men, it seems only using them in small roles in Deadpool 3 is a waste. No, we think there are much bigger plans afoot.
The 2015 event comic Secret Wars by Jonathan Hickman began when incursions across the Multiverse resulted in its total destruction until there were only two realities left—the classic 616, and Earth 1610, home of the Ultimate universe. Eventually, both of those realities had to do battle with each other to determine which one would get to live. Spoiler alert—neither reality gets to live, and Doctor Doom fuses what remains of them together into a new “Battleworld.”
Although it could still be Kang in the MCU, In Avengers/X-Men Secret Wars, we could get a version of that story. But it would be the MCU Earth vs the Fox X-Men Earth. And the protectors of each reality would have to fight for the existence of their world. Much like Captain America: Civil War, neither side would be wrong. Who wouldn’t fight to protect everyone they know from annihilation? In an Infinity Wars-type cliffhanger, we could see both realities fade to white, presumably destroyed. A sixth Avengers film could open on Battleworld, a hodgepodge reality made of elements of both universes. It would be an excuse to bring back anybody.
X-Men vs. Avengers: A Battle Fans Have Waited Decades to See
From a pure fan point of view, the battles would be cant-miss events. Thor vs. Storm, Wolverine vs. Hulk, Scarlet Witch vs. Phoenix, etc. And yes, an all-star lineup of Avengers vs. an all-star lineup of X-Men is a lot of characters. But let us remind you that Civil War juggled 18 principal characters. Infinity War and Endgame showcased 30, and somehow gave everyone something to do. So an Avengers/X-Men crossover could absolutely work. Although Kevin Feige might want to give Civil War, Infinity War, and Endgame screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely a call. They seem extremely adept at juggling so many superheroes cohesively, and giving emotional character stakes to these comic book battles.
The original X-Men films truly started the Marvel superhero craze in cinemas after Blade proved it could be done. It led to Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, and ultimately, the MCU. If, in fact, Avengers: Secret Wars and the Multiverse Saga are intended to bring an end to not just one era of storytelling, but going back even before the MCU, what better way to go out than with a bang?