When Marvel Studios released the MCU in 2008, they had to get by without having the rights to some of its biggest franchises. The film rights to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four were owned by Fox and the rival studio was unwilling to allow its new competitor to use them in its films.
All that changed when Disney acquired Fox in 2019, and the rights to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four returned to Marvel. But the study doesn’t seem to be in much of a rush to introduce them immediately; On Disney Investor Day past, Marvel Studios announced that a new Fantastic Four movie is in the works, and while they insist they’ve also figured out how mutants will appear, they haven’t announced an X-Men movie yet. This is probably for the best, because the challenge for Marvel is how to introduce mutants in an organic way that doesn’t distort the shape of the shared universe they’ve so carefully constructed.
The X-Men comics are doing better than ever at the publisher as a result of a successful relaunch devised by screenwriter Jonathan Hickman. Naturally, all eyes are on whether any of the current comics could serve as an indicator of how they might make the X-Men work in the MCU as well. And a new retcon may well have shown the perfect way to achieve it.
Marvel is Blurring the Line Between Mutants and Magic
There has always been a kind of fuzzy line between mutants and magic. Storm of the X-Men, for example, may have an X gene, but his ancestral line actually got its powers after being blessed by Oshtur, an interdimensional being who is essentially a god, and Storm still invokes it every time. refers to her as “brilliant lady” . In Black Panther # 172 they reveal that the powers of the ex-wife of T’Challa are amplified by the faith and belief of the Wakandanians supercharged the Omega-level mutant so she was able to single-handedly defeat a powerful being that he had previously defied all of the X-Men. And then there’s Magik, Colossus’s little sister; she is the Supreme Sorceress of the Hell dimension of Limbo.
But modern Marvel comics have been quietly rewriting the history of mutants, revealing that they have been around for as long as humans have existed on Earth. In Jason Aaron’s Avengers # 39 the first tribe of mutants was revealed, the first X-Men, so to speak, a group that met 1,000,000 years ago. This fits in perfectly with an idea that has been developed in Tini Howard’s Excalibur, which has suggested that the history of anti-magic violence, from the 15th century Valais witch trials to French legends like the Beast of Gévaudan, was partly directed against mutants. It makes sense, because mutants have frequently displayed powers that would have been viewed as magical in past generations, even including lycanthropy.
Excalibur No. 4 rewrote the history of the mutants in an even more dramatic way, albeit in such a subtle way that many readers would not have noticed. In that issue, Rictor, a mutant who can cause seismic tremors and manipulate the ground, discovers that the ancient British Druids are actually an order of mutants who share the same ability.
This idea has profound implications for how mutation works in the X-Men world, because it presumably means that there is something in an ancient Anglo-Saxon gene that makes this specific power set more likely. At some point, a group of mutants with that particular ability came together, and interbreeding between these mutants naturally meant that it was inherited, perhaps even getting stronger with each passing generation. This isn’t the first time the comics have alluded to geographically concentrated power sets. because the much-ridiculed career of Chuck Austen suggested that both devilish and angelic mutants came from Israel. Mutants are probably more diverse today simply due to massive migration over the past centuries that has led to mixing of different X genes, and more common simply due to population growth.