The X-Men are headed to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We don’t know how, we don’t know when, but we know they’re coming.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we have to wait until the first MCU X-Men movie for mutants to show up. A great entry point for Professor Xavier and his school for gifted youngsters is the X-Men comics’ long list of memorable and formidable villains. The X-Men have arguably the best roster of antagonists in Marvel Comics, second maybe to Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four. So why not have established MCU heroes briefly square off against some X-baddies? Preferably ones who haven’t already gotten to the big screen.
Here are six X-Men comics villains who could show up in the MCU before the heroes. In no particular order.
I think the best and most sensible way to introduce X-Men villains would be through the cosmic aspect. The MCU is heavily embracing Marvel’s weird cosmic comics, and the X-Men have had some of the best cosmic encounters of any of them. Which brings us to Mojo. Mojo is an evil alien slug beast thing who resides in spider-legs. His brain is attached to monitors and he’s essentially a villainous reality TV show producer. In the comics, he kidnaps mutants and other superheroes to make them compete in various deathsport shows. This is obviously fairly similar to the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) in Thor: Ragnarok; to differentiate, MCU Mojo would have to be much more of an active producer. Maybe he steals the Grandmaster’s set-up and broadcasts it to the galaxy. There’s plenty to do there.
Another cosmic baddie, Deathbird is part of the extraterrestrial Shi’ar race that possesses razor-tipped wings. It’s a pretty lethal thing to have, really. Deathbird first showed up in the pages of Ms. Marvel in 1977. Ms. Marvel, as you probably know, is what Carol Danvers was called before becoming Captain Marvel. So it’s definitely not out of the realm of possibility for Deathbird to show up in a Captain Marvel sequel, which could provide audiences with an in-point to the Shi’ar Empire itself, which has all sorts of awesome X-Men family characters and connections. Plus it would also be awesome to see Carol clash with someone who actually stands a decent chance of defeating her.
In the comics, the Phalanx are a group of Mutant-hating humans in the future who use Warlock’s techno-organic virus to turn themselves into part-machine hunters. This might also be a great way to introduce mutants into the MCU, through a cybernetic race hunting imperfections in human genetics. It’s a backwards way to say mutants are among us, but it’d be a great reveal.
Graydon Creed/Friends of Humanity
One of the mainstays of X-Men comics is the allegory of otherness the heroes possess. Whether the allusions be race, sexuality, or just abstract outsiderness, the mutants represent any kind of persecuted group of people. Because of that, there needs to be the other element, those who believe in “genetic purity”. If mutants exist, that means regular humans aren’t the top anymore. Graydon Creed is a very violent figure in this movement, an analog to any bigoted racist in the real world.
While the MCU tends not to deal with that, they’re going to have to for the X-Men to show up. So what if Creed and his Friends of Humanity show up to speak out about any and all super-powered individuals? Anyone with superpowers that make them superior to humanity. That way when the MCU introduces mutants, there’s already the context for the hatred. Not fun, but important.
Sort of the Marvel Universe’s version of the Joker, Arcade is an evil genius and a hitman who carries out his assassinations via various elaborate traps. They’re often centered around a giant fictional amusement park called “Murderworld.” So, real nice guy. Obviously, he’s maybe a little darker than your average MCU villain, but he’d be a great lower-level threat. He’s fought Spider-Man and various Avengers in the past, so he’s not totally out of place among the non-X-Men. Plus, it’d just be cool to have a sadistic yet jolly baddie out there.
I have wanted Nathaniel Essex to appear on the big screen almost since X-Men movies began. We got a small, tantalizing tease at the end of Apocalypse and a reference in Deadpool 2 but it never came to fruition. And here’s the thing: Mister Sinister is the perfect choice for the MCU, because he can actually explain why there are suddenly mutants in the universe. He’s obsessed with genetic alteration and experimentation, first on himself and then others.
He has a long history with the X-Men and is one of their greatest foes. But he also poses a major threat to any and all heroes in the Marvel Universe with his telepathy and powers of persuasion. To my mind, he’s the best X-Men villain who’s never been in a movie, and he’d be a great foe for any current MCU Avenger.