Why the Future of the X-Men is Not the X-Men

It's been a few weeks since X-Men: Apocalypse (read our review here) came out, and it seems that the resounding response from fans is "meh". I overall liked Apocalypse. It was definitely one of the weaker X-Men movies, but it wasn't in any way a failure for me. But who would have thought two years ago that a Deadpool film would be more critically acclaimed and maybe even higher grossing at the box office than another installment in the standard X-Men franchise. But while Apocalypse put into place some very exciting possibilities for the future of the mainstream franchise, I contend that the future of Fox's series is not big-budgeted giant X-Men films, but rather smaller spin-offs more in the vein of Deadpool

This editorial will have minor spoilers for X-Men: Apocalypse. So if you haven't seen the film yet, this won't ruin the entire film at all, but it's not for those who are ultra-sensitive to spoilers. 

The film sets up the younger counterparts to the main X-Men introduced in the original 2000 film, and pretty much puts them in place to be the X-Men we know and love 20 years down the line. While I do want to see another film with these new/old X-Men, I don't think this is the future of the franchise. While, in my eyes, Apocalypse was good, Deadpool was incredible, and showed the possibilities of so many untested waters: R-rated comic book films, smaller low-budget comic book films as well as true X-Men spin-offs. The Wolverine movies don't count, because that's just taking the lead character in the X-Men films and removing the X-Men. Deadpool was the first true X-Men spin-off, and it was both a critical and financial success. For me, that just shows that the future of the X-Men movies aren't the X-Men, but rather the various spin-offs in the larger universe. 

Right now, Fox has Deadpool 2 in development, as well as a Gambit movie that has been in limbo for a while. They also have plans to do New Mutants and X-Force, which is really the way to go for the series. We have seen six movies now with the same X-Men characters, and I do want to see it come full circle with one more film, set in the 1990's perfectly leading up to the time that 2000's X-Men begins. But after that, I don't think we need to see any more. I think you can continue the franchise with new characters and new teams, and continue branching out. While Apocalypse wasn't bad by any means, it did have some of the wear that this series has been going on for a while. This is one universe that has existed for sixteen years, longer than anything Marvel or DC has done. While impressive in of itself, it shows that they can't keep falling back on the same characters over and over again. Fox is going to have to branch out past Wolverine, past Mystique and past Cyclops and Storm and all of those characters. X-Men: First Class did that, and then they brought it back to the roots. The future of the X-Men lies with projects like New Mutants and X-Force, as well as spin-offs for different characters. 

I think the X-Men franchise is far from ending, nor should it be. Despite a few mishaps, Fox has done a fantastic job with the series, and I think it has the momentum to keep going for another sixteen years. But if it is to continue, and compete with Marvel and DC, then its going to need to move beyond its safe zone. What makes Marvel successful is that it takes risk, but making a film like Guardians of the Galaxy that ties into the larger universe, but has completely fresh characters and they make them as popular as their heavy hitters. Fox successfully did that with Deadpool, and I hope they'll learn that this is the way to go. There are many things to learn from Deadpool. You can make comic book movies R-rated and they'll be successful. Not every comic book movie has to cost $200+ million dollars. But the most important lesson I hope they learn is that X-Men is not only successful if its Wolverine and Cyclops and Jean Grey and all of those characters. Sometimes a not very popular character can become popular, if done well. The future of the X-Men is not the X-Men, and I hope Fox learns that.

What do you think? Should Fox stick with its original roster and keep making standard X-Men films? Or has that ship sailed and its time to usher in new characters and new teams? How should the franchise proceed? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Written by: Nate 
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