Now that what used to be 21st Century Fox is part of Disney, Marvel’s comic book heroes have the chance to be united onscreen in a way that comic book fans have been dreaming about for years.
Even as people start to dream up plans for how Wolverine and Deadpool can be introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however, some attention should be paid to the many movies spotlighting Marvel’s mutant heroes that audiences won’t get to see.
Dark Phoenix will sill hit theaters in June, while the fate of Josh Boone's New Mutants — rumored to be troubled — remains up in the air.
But outside of these two films, which have already wrapped production, Fox had been working on a number of X-Men-related projects that are now likely never to happen. Even as the studio is rumored to be working on an animated version of its What If…? comic book series for streaming service Disney+, let us consider an alternate universe in which each of these movies came to be, starting with Gambit, which has had quite the development history.
After Gambit's debut in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Fox spent years trying to turn the fan-favorite character into a stand-alone cinematic hero. Channing Tatum got on board in 2014, with the intention to produce and star as the charming Cajun thief with atrocious fashion sense, and was followed in 2015 by director Robert Wyatt. Wyatt only stayed on for a brief time before jumping ship, after Fox cut the budget in the wake of Fantastic Four’s failure at the box office, and was replaced by Doug Liman, who also bailed after a year or so, to be replaced in turn by Gore Verbinski, who also left, citing scheduling difficulties. At last report, Tatum himself was reportedly interested in directing.
Here's a look at the other projects that had been in development at Fox before the merger, starting with the one that seems like the favorite to potentially survive the move:
Kick-Ass 2’s Jeff Wadlow was working on a version of this hyper-violent X-Men spinoff (well, in comic books, at least; Deadpool put paid to that, to some degree, in movies) in 2013 alongside Mark Millar, but that ran aground; four years later, Drew Goddard was developing a separate take that would spin out of Deadpool 2, which he would write and direct. On the plus side, if Deadpool manages to survive the transition from Foxverse to MCU, perhaps X-Force could, as well.
"The thing that was exciting about X-Force, in particular, was the fringe element of what X-Force was to the X-Men," Goddard told The Hollywood Reporter in October. "I still feel like there is real opportunity to explore that. What Deadpool is to the superhero movie, X-Force can be to the team superhero movie."
In the wake of the critical success of 2017’s Logan, writer-director James Mangold told THR that he was working on a screenplay for a solo movie centered on Laura, Dafne Keen’s scene-stealing supporting character. Such a plan followed comic book mythology in which Laura took over as Wolverine following Logan’s temporary death, but with the prospect of a reboot for the entire franchise in the works, it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing an All-New Wolverine on the big screen anytime soon.
In what was one of the least anticipated moves in X-Men movie history, in 2017 it emerged that James Franco was in talks to play Jamie Madrox, aka Multiple Man, in a stand-alone movie written by Allan Heinberg, one of the writers on Warner Bros.' Wonder Woman; both Franco and Heinberg would produce the feature, but little was heard about it after that announcement.
In early 2018, it was reported that Deadpool’s Tim Miller and comic veteran Brian Michael Bendis were collaborating on a solo movie based around Kitty Pryde, a beloved longtime member of the central X-Men team. Kitty had appeared in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand and 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, played both times by Ellen Page, although it was unclear whether or not the solo movie would follow that incarnation of the character. If not, it’s not impossible that the project could survive in some version in the MCU.
These are just the projects that we know about; longtime X-Men producer Simon Kinberg has even referred to spinoff teams like Alpha Flight and the Exiles as potential future projects that might have been in development without it becoming public knowledge. While there are, inevitably, multiple conversations underway inside Marvel about how best to bring the X-Men into the MCU, perhaps some time might be spent to consider what, if anything, is worth trying to salvage from the projects left behind as a result of the new regime.