Is borrowing superheroes from failed movies really a good idea, Marvel?

One can only imagine the high level of miff that must be floating around the X-Mansion given the news that Marvel Studios is to welcome Deadpool, umpteen Spider-Men and most of the Sinister Six into its burgeoning cinematic multiverse. Where is the glistening, 1,000gsm party invite that the likes of James McAvoy (Professor X Jr) and Michael Fassbender (young Magneto) could be forgiven for having expected to land on their doorsteps by now?

If Marvel supremo Kevin Feige is bringing back Jamie Foxx’s Electro from the underperforming The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for the forthcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home, surely he can find a space for some of those ex-21st Century Fox mutants who now find themselves homeless after Disney bought the entire studio in 2019? So far, only the Evan Peters version of Quicksilver, who appeared briefly in Disney+’s brilliant WandaVision, has been invited to cross from one big-screen reality to another, though this is not altogether surprising. Have you seen Dark Phoenix?

McAvoy is ambivalent as to whether his take on Professor X could work in the MCU in a new interview with Comicbook.com. But he does sound like he would be up for the challenge if approached. “If my time is done, I’m happy with the time that I spent and the time that I was given,” he said. “And if good writing comes in and people want to do stuff with me, I’ll always be open to that, but it’s got to be good.

“They’re clever people,” added McAvoy of Marvel, no doubt having spotted the smart way the studio weaved Peters into WandaVision. “They’re so good at putting their stuff together. They’ll figure out where to do it, but that might not involve people who’ve done it before. It might be a complete reimagining. And as a fan, I’m down for that as well and I’d be excited to see what happens next.”

One rumour is that Professor X may turn up to battle Scarlet Witch in the forthcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, though there have been suggestions it may be the elder version of the mind-bending mutant played by Patrick Stewart who gets the nod.

Frankly it’s hard to imagine either Charles Xavier turning down an opportunity to join the slick Marvel machine, even if their appearances end up being glorified cameos that are put to bed once the multiverse phase of the studio’s ongoing mega-saga eventually comes to an end. The only real question is which superheroes and villains from other studios’ franchises are enticing enough for Marvel to hold on to them in the new reality.

If Feige does start cherrypicking from the Fox X-Men movies, he could do worse than grab Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. It no longer matters that the latter was killed off in 2017’s Logan because … multiverse. Ditto Jennifer Lawrence’s Raven / Mystique, who shuffled off this mortal coil in 2019’s execrable Dark Phoenix – she could now come back too, bounding out of a portal from another dimension to audience hurrahs in the multiplex. All bets are off when alternate realities can blend and morph into each other as easily as Thor knocks back tankards of space-beer.

The exciting prospect here is that actors and characters who were poorly served in many of Fox’s movies could be given a new lease of life by a studio that tends to get it right around 90% of the time. It is not hard to imagine the likes of Fassbender and McAvoy flourishing in the MCU, while any saga that cannot make good use of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen (the older version of Xavier) should be ashamed of itself.

On the other hand, there are limits. Feige cannot just grab every malfunctioning comic book titan to have hit the big screen in the past two decades, dust them down and wheel them out as a brand spanking new, MCU iteration. Some of those Fox movies were so terrible that no amount of deep-cleaning can wipe away the dark stain of crassness. Marvel is planning its own take on the Fantastic Four, which as far as we know has nothing to do with the three godawful Fox movies that have preceded it, and for good reason. If the Ioan Gruffudd version of Reed Richards or Jamie Bell’s take on The Thing turn up in some future episode, we really will know Marvel has taken this whole multiverse thing way too far.

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