Following a very strong start in the early 2000s, the original 20th Century Fox franchise crashed and burned the more it trundled on.
Like what happens to a toad when it gets struck by lightning, the whole franchise was ripped apart to unspeakable measures at least three times during its seven-movie run (not including the spin-offs), two of which were centred around Jean Grey and the Dark Phoenix saga. We really hope the MCU 'X-Men', whenever they surface, can distance themselves far enough away from this tragedy in filmmaking.
With so many different X-Men off-shoots, it's going to be difficult to know which way Marvel will take the mutants. However, it seems pretty likely that they'll avoid regurgitation of the storyline - or maybe they'll surprise us with an ever more impressive origin story? Hell, if 'Deadpool 2' can feature the X-Mansion without that much difficulty, then anything's possible.
The team's first comic book arrival was in the 1960s, and after its release, parallels were drawn between the characters and those within the LGBTQ+ community; it followed a group of people always seen as the outsiders of humanity, who were labelled as "mutants" or "others" for carrying the X-Gene, and all they wanted to do was to be seen as "normal". Sound familiar?
With this in mind, it would be refreshing if Marvel took this original idea for the 'X-Men' and integrated it into the future storyline of the franchise. Make it campy, make it fun, but make it have a solid, heartfelt storyline about being different.
So far, the MCU has mostly dealt with superheroes being these superstars, being famous and living the high life. But what about the underdogs, those who we rarely see, but who desperately want to see humans and mutants live side-by-side (for the most part...)?
In all fairness, with so many mutants at Kevin Feige's arsenal, it's a toss-up as to who will debut on-screen first, and very much impossible to predict. So, with this in mind, we've picked ten that we'd like to see get their justice on the big screen. We've already had Professor X, Magneto, Cyclops and Jean Grey twice on screen (and they more than likely will return, for sure), so for this list we're going to ignore them (apologies die-hards!)
It's time to shine a light on a new iteration of mutants who deserve either a second (or third) chance on screen or a long-overdue introduction. Up first, however, we couldn't have an MCU 'X-Men' movie without a new baddie on the scene...
Although we'd love to see how Marvel handles Magneto, for now, we feel like the character needs to take a bit of a rest. Save the man hell-bent on getting rid of petty humans for a later introduction.
So, there's plenty of room then for a new evil overlord to take to the stage, and one character we've yet to see is Mister Sinister. He's got ties to Apocalypse, another X-Men supervillain (who, again, was given a lukewarm introduction on-screen by Oscar Isaac), but for the most part, he's a scientist who is obsessed with creating the perfect specimen. Dark and mysterious, he mostly gets others to do his bidding, only showing up in his badass collared coat when all of his lackeys have failed.
Our pick for Mister Sinister: Jon Hamm (51). The 'Mad Men' actor was originally considered for the role as Mister Sinister in Fox's failed movies, so why not get him back for this fresh take on the MCU 'X-Men'? He's got the voice, the looks and the presence for what could be one of the biggest adversaries the team will take on. Plus, he could camp it up with a maniacal laugh, should the opportunity call.
Storm AKA Ororo Monroe
Yes, we know. There has also been two different versions of Storm on screen. WE KNOW. But, honestly, both didn't live up to expectations (nor did many of Fox's characters, but anyway...). Storm is supposed to be a commanding force of nature, a future leader of the X-Men, while also having a huge heart and love for all people no matter what. Basically, she's Mother Earth in mutant form.
The African priestess with her trademark white billowing hair has the ability to control the elements and is considered one of the very few Omega Level mutants, meaning her powers have the ability to reach an undefinable level of power. So, for Storm, we're going to need an Omega Level actor.
Our pick for Storm: Cynthia Erivo (35). Cynthia has been enjoying a fairly steep incline in star power, having played Aretha Frankin in 'Genius' and has a major starring role in the upcoming 'Wicked' musical. The MCU 'X-Men' film could provide her with another huge stepping point in her career, taking on her most action-filled role to date. And just like anything she puts her name to, we're sure she'll nail it.
Dare we let a new power couple take to the screen instead of Cyclops and Jean Grey? Storm and Forge have had a tumultuous relationship in the comic books, to say the least, but are easily the most obvious choice should Marvel wish to take a different route for their X-Men plans.
Forge has not yet appeared in a live-action setting, so it's about time that the gifted inventor, who also has an instinctive understanding of all kinds of technology, comes out of his laboratory and onto the screen. Maybe not the most unusual of gifts, Forge could come into his own by delving into his knowledge of sorcery and developing weapons that could aid his colleagues while out in the field.
Our pick for Forge: Given his Native American background, Martin Sensmeier (37) could serve up a comic-book accurate version of the character. He's starred in 'The Magnificent Seven', 'Westworld' and 'Yellowstone' to date, and is just waiting to claim his big break. Watch this space...
Should Mystique not be shunted to a supporting character, we could totally see her lead her own villainous movie right off the bat. The mother of Nightcrawler and adoptive mother of Rogue, the shape-shifting mutant already has quite a background that could easily be built into a multi-picture storyline. Just don't have her be Professor X's sister, okay?
There have already been two separate takes on the character, also known as Raven Darkholme, in Fox's movie franchise; first portrayed by Rebecca Rmijn, speaking a handful of lines across three films; and then by Jennifer Lawrence in four films which saw her be boosted to a main character whose loyalty shifted depending on her mood. With such a colourful past, Mystique needs to finally be given a more comic-book accurate storyline (one of which had her marry Professor X, if you don't mind).
Our pick for Mystique: We're going to go the young-ish route for Mystique, and one star that's caught our eye recently is Alexa Demie (31), who plays Maddy in HBO's 'Euphoria'. Unpredictable and yet incredibly loyal to those who do good by her, Alexa has all the makings of an action-hero who can take down her foes both verbally and physically.
Oscar-winner Anna Paquin played Rogue/Marie in 20th Century Fox's version of the character. While it was a strong performance from the actor, the characterisation paled so much from the source material that she might as well have been a completely new character created for the movie franchise.
We don't want to see another meek and softly-spoken version of Rogue - we want a bad-ass southern belle with a penchant for dropping hilarious quips while dealing out impressive hand-to-hand aerial combat to those who cross her path. Initially an antagonist, she eventually found respite with Professor X and co. She struggles with her absorbing powers, sometimes unable to control them and even sometimes getting stuck with the memories of her victims (which happened with Carol Danvers AKA Ms. Marvel).
Our pick for Rogue: For this, we're going to need an actor with some good comic timing, one that is also able to stand their ground in a fight, while also having a vulnerable side. Our very own Jessie Buckley (32) could be the perfect Rogue, plus it would be pretty great to see her swap an indie flick for an action film. Rogue is a troubled soul, desperate for a human touch, and Jessie could easily deliver a performance with buckets of attitude, playfulness and loneliness.
Gambit AKA Remy LeBeau
Not saying that Rogue needs a man for her to come into her own, quite the opposite in fact, but she and Gambit share such a long history in the comics that the eventual introduction of the ragin' cajun as a potential love interest is a no-brainer. But this time, let's do the character justice, shall we?
Just like Ryan Reynolds was able to give his Deadpool redemption from that monstrosity of an appearance in 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine', Remy LeBeau deserves more screen time with a more comic-book accurate depiction. And please, don't let Channing Tatum near this one.
A wheeler and dealer, Gambit is one of the most untrustworthy of the X-Men, thanks to his mysterious past as a thief. He has the ability to kinetically charge any object he so wishes, but primarily uses playing cards and his trusty staff to do his destructive work. Incidentally, Gambit also has a connection with the aforementioned baddie Mister Sinister, so we already have his origin story locked in.
Our pick for Gambit: Were we casting an older version of the character, 'Lost' star Josh Halloway would be our number one pick. However, that's unlikely going to be the case, so we'll take on the acting talents of Austin Butler (30) from 'Elvis' to dominate the screen. Slick, suave and a little bit of a dick? Gambit 1000% deserves a better revisit in the MCU 'X-Men' team (just give him some red-eyed contact lens and away we go).
The Iceman cometh! Previously played by Shawn Ashmore, and getting himself involved in a weird-ass love triangle with Rogue and Shadowcat, the character seen on screen was quite different from the version in the comics. Pretty meek and mild-mannered (which seemed to be a theme for some of the characters) until his third outing, this new MCU 'X-Men' version of the character needs to bring the high-speed, erratic and fun-loving sense of the character to the screen.
Iceman has had an interesting past in the comics, and in 2015 the character was reborn as a gay member of the mutant team. In quite a touching moment, the young, gay version of the Iceman confronted his older "straight" self, who admitted to not wanting to be both gay and a mutant. This could be a pretty emotional scene to visit, should the character get another go on the big screen sometime soon.
Our pick for Iceman: Johnathan Bailey (34). Jonathan has been tearing up the screen thanks to his role as the eldest titular sibling in Netflix's 'Bridgerton', but when he's not looking for love, he's got that hint of playfulness, a glint in his eye, that Iceman is known for. Plus, Jonathan is out and proud, so it would be great to finally see this side of the character be brought to the screen.
Darwin is a character that we saw briefly in 'X-Men: First Class', played by Edi Gathegi, unfortunately being killed at the hands of Kevin Bacon's Sebastian Shaw. But anyone who is familiar with the 'X-Men' comic books knows how difficult it is to kill off the mutant - so much so that he's practically immortal.
Darwin, inspired by the famed biologist, has the ability to adapt to any situation he is placed in - so, if underwater he grows gills; if he's in a country and doesn't speak the language, suddenly he's fluent etc. There's huge scope for some ingenious cinematography to be utilised for Darwin, so adding him to the team is a no-brainer as he's not much of a fighter - but he could be very useful to the team. He's also bald, and you don't see many bald superheroes around these days, right? (Sorry Professor X...)
Our pick for Darwin: Jharrel Jerome (24). The award-winning actor for 'Moonlight' and 'When They See Us' could create a memorable take on the character, a mutant who essentially has no control over his powers. You see, Darwin adapts to survive, but technically he's unable to actually know how his body will react in any situation. Jharrel would be able to bring a comical side to the MCU 'X-Men' character in certain situations and also show his overwhelming frustration when if it doesn't turn out right.
We deserve to see some sparks flying - finally! We've seen Jubilee appear in a very minor way for multiple movies with 20th Century Fox and STILL didn't get to see her unleash any of those amazing fireworks. It's time to set that straight once and for all, Marvel.
Jubilation Lee first appeared in the comic books in the late eighties, equipped with her iconic yellow trenchcoat and pink visor as she hung around the malls getting up to mischief. A literal fire-starter, she was quite a prominent figure in the 'X-Men Animated Series' from the '90s, which is getting a sequel series.
Our pick for Jubilee: Brenda Song (34). Jubilee needs to be light-hearted and a little bit of a goofy clutz, and no offence to Brenda Song from 'Dollface' and 'Station 19', but she's got this role locked down. Always trying to do her best, but accidentally making things worse for the team, this mutant-in-training needs to be on the team.
Wolverine AKA Logan
Say what you will, but the future casting of Wolverine will be the most divisive of the entire MCU 'X-Men' franchise for fans. No matter who gets cast in the role, someone's not going to be happy.
Hugh Jackman has left such a mark on the character, that it's quite difficult to actually picture another actor pick up those adamantium claws and take over. But, alas, this is Hollywood, and Disney/Marvel will want to get the casting right to ensure there's enough interest in the X-Men once they make a splash onto screens.
To be fair to Bryan Singer and co. they did Wolverine good. Well, for the most part. Taron Egerton is reportedly in talks with Marvel to don the trademark yellow and blue suit of Logan, but should that all just be a rumour, here's our pick...
Our pick for Wolverine: Come at me, bub, but with some weight-training and voice coaching, Joe Keery (30) is a strong contender for Wolverine. 'Stranger Things' viewers have fallen in love with Steve time and time again, and because he's so damn likeable and has quite a wolf-like mullet of hair on his head, he's already got the charm and the looks for the role nailed down. He just needs to add some meat to those bones and put on a more menacing face, and there you have it, we've got Hugh Jackman's replacement in the bag.