ON SPEC: What If Marvel Studios Got A Crack At X-MEN?

ON SPEC: What If Marvel Studios Got A Crack At X-MEN?

Terry & Chris muse on what an MCU version of the mutants would look like.

ON SPEC is a new column at Finickal created by Terry Erickson and Chris D'alessandro, where we take a popular franchise and, as writers, outlandishly speculate where it could head (but totally won't). Sometimes that means a left field story, other times it means a crossover, and sometimes it means both. We're just trying to have fun here.

If you told us five years ago that Marvel Studios would get a hold of Spider-Man and place him firmly within the MCU, we would have said you were certifiably insane. Nobody wanted to deal with that red tape back then, but now -- in the age of fully matured, shared universes -- anything is possible.

Except maybe Marvel getting a hold of the X-Men, which have been a source of HUGE profits for 20th Century Fox. The quality of films they've been putting out have been, well...inconsistent. For every Logan, there's been an X-Men: Apocalypse. And with this weeks announcement of three more X films, including one that's rehashing the Dark Phoenix storyline, us fans have no choice to buckle up.

If you're a fan of Logan, Charles, or Magneto, chances are as a watcher you've had your needs fulfilled. But what Fox never understood is that the X-Men universe is very rich, with dozens of characters that previous films have only glossed over who could be as popular as Wolverine himself.

And this is something Marvel Studios understands very well.

So let's go through a portal, to an alternate dimension where Trump never got elected, and X-Men: Apocalypse was the last straw that buried the franchise for good at Fox.

Much like Sony's Spider-Man situation, Marvel has come along and brokered a deal, offering profits in exchange for full creative control going forward.

SO, WHAT NOW?

Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart have already made a graceful exit, with little sign of returning to the roles they've made so iconic; Logan was as good a swan song as anyone could hope for. So, now would be a pretty good time to recast this whole thing and give some other characters some love.

What we don't need is another "build the school" story, and we definitely don't need to see or hear from Weapon X. And, of course, in MCU tradition, this should take place directly in the midst of their current crop of films. If this movie got made tomorrow, it would take place about a year after Captain America: Civil War.

WELL, WHO'S GOING TO BE IN IT?

The best incarnations of X-Men have always been a family drama first, and with Charles Xavier and Logan still raw in our minds, it's probably not good to bring them back with new actors. The protagonist for something like this is important; somebody new, yet instantly familiar.

We don't think there's anybody better to lead this thing than Scott Summers and Jean Grey. And the twist here? They're a little older. They haven't suited up in their spandex in awhile. They've moved on. 

And they're divorced.

Again, we're trying to distance this franchise from Fox, so we'll need two new yet reliable performers who know their way around drama (and the absurd). Terry's got a pitch for you right here:

Emily Blunt and Justin Theroux.

WAIT, OKAY BUT HOW DOES THIS BEGIN?

We'd open with a prologue (maybe narrated by Jean!) explaining how mutants have been a secret cornerstone of humanity, and the X-Men had been fighting the good fight in secret for decades, long before the emergence of Iron Man and the Avengers. And then, seventeen years ago, something happened during the X-Men's last adventure -- a large scale psionic event that erased Charles Xavier from the Earth. We haven't seen the X-Men since.

This prologue would be pretty action packed, similar to what the Watchmen film did with their opening credits, showing the X-Men through out the 20th century, acting in secret, preventing doomsday after doomsday. When we get to the event that erased Charles from the Earth, SCOTT presses a button - WE WERE IN THE DANGER ROOM THE WHOLE TIME.

Scott finishes his six pack of beer and leaves the mothballed basement of the academy and gets to sleep.

The thing is -- Scott's the headmaster of The Xavier School For Gifted Students. But that's all it is now -- a school. Scott's been using it as Charles wished, a sanctuary for all gifted and "enhanced" children who now fear what the government plans for them after the Sokovia Accords.

But the thing about Scott -- his anger issues have cost him his support system. Jean's long gone, working on the road as a civil defender. And, shockingly, he's a pretty terrible teacher.

One student in particular, Bobby Drake, is giving him lots of shit as the class prankster. He's a loud mouthed kid from Boston, who likes to throw ice balls and freeze doors shut. You know, kids stuff.

Okay Terry, we get it. You're in the bag for Theroux.

Okay Terry, we get it. You're in the bag for Theroux.

Another student, Kitty, sits in the back and isn't even paying attention; she's yearning to go outside. Scott explains to the class how maybe they shouldn't leave the school right now. That they're special, but they're different, and the world has decided it's not ready for them. Scott dismisses the class on a somber note.

But we're on Kitty as she leaves the class on a mission. When she gets back to her dorm, we see she's been COMMUNICATING WITH A PAIR OF THIEVES over e-mail that she's supposed to meet in the city tonight: And they're named Rogue and Gambit. 

Kitty has the power to walk through walls, and she's the exact kind of girl who can get past security in the AVENGERS TOWER.

In exchange for her help with stealing a prototype device that nullifies mutant powers, Rogue and Gambit offer a more adventurous life as a mutant. Maybe she can be a part of something more, like a Brotherhood. But, after a thrilling action set piece, Kitty is caught by security and taken to jail.

Back at the mansion, Scott wakes up to a bone chilling report on CNN: Kitty's arrest is all over the news, and she's having her fate decided by an emergency panel comprised of Senator Robert Kelly, Defense Secretary Ross, and Tony Stark.

His deepest fears realized, Scott drives to the courthouse; he HAS to bring her home.

At the panel, JEAN GREY stands as Kitty's only defense, giving a sound argument before Scott bursts in and gives an impassioned defense, how a little girl shouldn't face a life sentence because she's a mutant, and makes a plea to let him take Kitty back to the school.

Unfortunately, in the eyes of the panel, there was only one outcome -- Kitty is sentenced to the prison for enhanced humans: THE RAFT. She's taken out of the courthouse almost immediately, her fate having been decided in a single conversation.

Tony tries to comfort Scott about the case result, telling him to relax; she'll be taken care of. He goes on to warn Scott to keep an eye on his students, and to take it from him that first impressions in this world are most important. Scott PUNCHES Tony Stark and gets grabbed by security. Tony tells them to let him go.

Outside the courtroom, Scott punches the wall. RIGHT before Jean greets him.

"I remember when you were the composed guy on the team."

Walking out of the courthouse together, Scott thinks he sees Erik Lensherr, the master of magnetism himself, across the street. But a bus passes by and he's gone. Maybe he's seeing things.

OKAY, THAT'S OUR ACT ONE. WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

Rogue and Gambit return to a secret lair, and greet a masked figure in the darkness. IT'S MAGNETO, HOLY SHIT. And everything is going according to plan.

The next day, Scott and Jean stand at the balcony overlooking the courtyard of the X Mansion, watching students play volleyball. Scott and Jean resolve to get the old team back together --

The X-MEN are going to ATTACK THE RAFT and rescue Kitty Pryde.

Bobby Drake, the trouble making student and self professed "Iceman", tries to join the mission; Kitty's his friend too. Scott, of course, says no.

With the help of Cerebro, Jean tracks down Hank "Beast" McCoy (he's become a recluse who writes college essays over the internet for money) and Ororo Munroe (Storm runs a wildlife protecting NGO in Kenya) and after a globe trotting montage, we're off to the raft.

"What about Logan?"

"He's not coming."

"Well, good. I hate that prick."

BIG MIDPOINT ACTION SETPIECE? CHECK.

The original team of X-Men (sans Logan) fly the Blackbird to the location of The Raft, and Jean uses her powers to PART THE SEA AROUND THE PRISON, creating a clearing to land.

The X-Men work in almost perfect synchronicity, Scott (in full Cyclops garb) fires an optic blast and blows open a hatch before Beast hops over him and down the hole. While Scott and Hank free Kitty, Storm and Jean keep the intense pressure of the ocean from swallowing them.

Kitty is pretty happy to see her teacher (and former teacher) rescue her; Scott tells her they're going home. BUT SOMETHING IS WRONG -- THE RAFT IS SURFACING. Jean telepathically shouts at Scott and Hank: "You guys better get up here!"

When the X-Men reassemble on top of the raft, they're met by IRON MAN AND HIS LINE UP OF AVENGERS.

And now, this. Kind of.

And now, this. Kind of.

The Avengers roster here is IRON MAN, WAR MACHINE, SPIDER-MAN, AND THE VISION. Not the full line up, but you know, Captain America: Civil War dealt a pretty heavy blow to the roster. But the fight is on as the Avengers tussle with the X-Men.

-The Vision is amazed by Storm's control of the weather as she thrashes him with lightning and gale force winds.

-War Machine's taken out pretty early, as Cyclops blasts the device on his back that keeps his legs working.

-Iron Man gives everything he's got as Jean stuggles to keep Kitty inside a telekinetic shield.

-Spider-Man THWIPS Scott's visor off and the size of the blast coming from his uncovered eyes is like a volcanic eruption. He aims it upward, away from harm, and TURNS THE SKY RED.

HEY WAIT, WHERE'S MAGNETO?

Magneto, with Rogue and Gambit, stand at the entrance to a completely unattended Avengers Tower. He sees the red sky in the distance and SMILES. Everybody's distracted.

BACK TO THE FIGHT

-Tony takes the fight to Scott, who's now using all his might to cover his eyes, just THRASHING him. TONY: "I owed you a punch, Summers."

-AS ALL HOPE SEEMS LOST, BOBBY DRAKE ARRIVES, with Scott's entire class of mutants: including Jubilee, Colossus, and Beak. Scott's relieved as they throw their might into Iron Man. BOBBY: "Gold Leader, reporting for duty!"

-Kitty is tired of watching her friends get hurt, and as Iron Man recovers, she uses her powers to run out of Jean's bubble shield, and TACKLE TONY DIRECTLY OUT OF HIS ARMOR.

-Spidey puts his hands up. Storm conjures fog, and the X-Men make their escape.

TONY RETURNS TO THE TOWER, AND SOMETHING IS WRONG.

When Tony sets foot back in his building, he notices all his security protocols are disabled. Magneto reveals himself to Stark, telling him he has plans to build new world, and the planet will see it firsthand. Tony had a protocol in case something like this happened, and he dons YET ANOTHER COOL IRON MAN SUIT. But this is child's play for Erik, as he casually strips off the whole thing piece by piece, before manipulating the metal into shackles.

Rogue and Gambit look at each other -- Did they sign up for this?

Back at the X Mansion, celebrations (and reprimands) are cut short when Magneto interrupts all broadcasts worldwide -- 

He's going to EXECUTE TONY STARK, the man who's the source of all enhanced humanity's pain, in one hour. Magneto proceeds to LIFT AVENGERS TOWER FROM THE GROUND. He RESHAPES THE BUILDING INTO A SMALL MOON FLOATING ABOVE NEW YORK.

STORM: "Magneto's BACK?"

Scott, fully devastated, sits alone in the Danger Room-- he's back to where he was at the start of this. Was all this his fault? If they didn't attack The Raft, the tower wouldn't have fallen victim to intruders.

But Jean, followed by the rest of the team, join him -- they haven't felt more ALIVE, well, ever. They're a family, and that's what's important. Kitty and Bobby add that they have powers, and therefore responsibility to help. It's what the Avengers would do. Scott smiles and gets up.

"No more hiding."

TIME TO WRAP THIS UP

The X-Men, Scott, Jean, Bobby, Kitty, Hank, and Storm take the Blackbird to the big metal moon.

BOBBY: "How are we gonna make a landing on Planet Magneto?"

Kitty's already got an idea: SHE PHASES THE ENTIRE PLANE THROUGH and they make a crash landing.

But, they're greeted by the rest of Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants: TOAD, BLOB, AVALANCHE, SAURON, and TYPHOID MARY. Erik has been busy finding people for his cause, it seems.

ONE MORE FIGHT

-The X-Men and the Brotherhood tussle as Bobby works to free Tony.

-Rogue and Gambit realize they're on the wrong side, and make a face turn to help the X-Men.

-Scott and Jean face Magneto, who is controlling Stark's suits and making them fight. 

-Stark, now free, works with Bobby to hack a terminal to detonate his suits ("Again..." Tony snarks.)

-Magneto impales Jean with a pipe, and as she bleeds, she reaches for Scott's hand before going limp.

-Scott rips off his visor, and unleashes his optic energy on Magneto. It's too much, and just as it tears Erik's clothes and cape apart, Jean raises a hand and calms him. She's not going anywhere again.

DENOUEMENT

Now that Erik's helmet is gone, Jean (who's not THAT injured, it turns out) has full control of his mind. Jean does her best to reshape the building, and lands it safely where it was. Erik is a blank zombie, for now.

As Damage Control and SHIELD take the surviving Brotherhood into custody, Scott tells Tony the X-Men aren't going anywhere now, for better or worse. Tony shakes his hand before saying "Good."

They have the Avengers' blessing to coexist. 

We end on a montage, starting student volleyball game at the mansion, with Scott as the ref as Jean and the rest of the grown up X-Men spectating, before everybody (including Rogue and Gambit) ends up in the Danger Room once more. Cyclops makes it clear -- X-Men Training Starts TODAY.

CREDITS...BUT IS THERE A TAG?

Erik sits in his plastic prison...and a FIGURE shrouded in darkness approaches.

IT'S PATRICK STEWART AS CHARLES XAVIER.

"Hello Erik. We have a lot to talk about."

SNAP TO BLACK.

So, what do you think? Is it better than X-Men: Apocalypse?

Terry Erickson and Chris D'alessandro are frequent collaborators, cohorts, and sometimes friends. With their powers combined, most things can still stop them.