Image Credit: 20th Century Studios
Ever since Disney purchased Fox (20th Century Studios) for a staggering $71.3 billion, speculative rumours and theories have been rife about the possible arrival of mutants in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even Kevin Feige (President of Marvel Studios) has promised that the X-Men would show up in the MCU at some point. It appears inevitable that mutants will make an appearance, albeit perhaps not in the way we expect.
Evan Peter’s surprise cameo in the unsettling yet brilliant WandaVision seemed to signal the X- Men’s arrival. Peter’s portrayal of ‘Pietro’ appeared eerily similar to his role as Quicksilver in the X-Men franchise, as both Pietro and Quicksilver share the ability of super-speed. Despite this not being the grand reveal that fans had hoped for (the twist that he was actually Ralph Bohner turned out to be little more than a gag joke), it did leave some burning questions. Is Ralph Bohner really who he appears to be? Why would Marvel go to all that effort for just a joke? One popular theory suggests that Bohner is Jimmy Woo’s missing witness mentioned in WandaVision’s fourth episode, ‘We Interrupt This Program’. If this is the case, then Ralph Boner might not be his true identity after all. Despite this cameo initially leading to a dead end, it still signals that Marvel is aware of the possibility of a multiverse, and perhaps “Ralph Bohner” will play a bigger role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s next phase.
Technically, mutants have already been introduced into the MCU, years before WandaVision’s airing in 2021. Wanda Maximoff and Quicksilver are both mutants in the comics, but since Marvel didn’t have the rights to the X-Men universe when Avengers: Age of Ultron came out in 2015, they were never portrayed as such. The inclusion of Evan Peters could be a nod to the twin’s origins, but this will likely not be revealed until later Marvel instalments, when all the different storylines finally come together.
The idea of a multiverse is more heavily explored in the new Disney Plus series, Loki, where Marvel introduce a bunch of different timelines. It is still too early to tell, but this Marvel storyline could potentially signal the introduction of mutants as citizens of an alternate earth, even as small cameos. I would personally love to see what Loki makes of characters like Charles Xavier and Wolverine within these alternate realities. Whilst this would be a brilliant way to introduce mutants to the MCU, there are also many other possibilities. One of the most interesting is the theory of the Infinity Gauntlet snap in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. Each time Thanos, Hulk and Iron Man used the Infinity Gauntlet it released a huge amount of cosmic energy. This may be a stretch, but the amount of energy being let out all at once could have affected the human population and activated previously dormant mutant genes. This would also handily resolve any continuity issues, such as why mutants weren’t present before this point, creating an exciting new chapter for the MCU.
There are signs that Marvel already has this in the works. A recent leak has revealed a new project titled Mutants, which is set to release in the next couple of years. This project, if real, would likely incorporate existing plotlines (such as the Snap) and use them to introduce mutants into the MCU universe.
This is not the only possibility; another origin story for Mutants may be revealed in the upcoming film, Eternals. In the comics, the Eternals are the result of genetic experiments performed by Celestials, who also created the X-gene whilst on Earth. Ultimately, the way that mutants are introduced really depends on what direction Marvel wants to take the MCU in. Do they want to draw more heavily on the comics, or branch into their own original storylines? With the death of prominent characters such as Captain America and Iron Man, new plotlines and characters are needed to create fresh innovative MCU content.
Yet, even though it appears that the introduction of mutants is imminent, Marvel might end up stalling in order to reduce comparisons to Fox’s X-Men franchise. Whilst the first few X-Men films were box office hits, Dark Phoenix (2019) lost a staggering total of $133 million. Whilst this is unlikely to have put Marvel off completely, I imagine they will start afresh when they do introduce mutants, not including any of the iconic characters from Fox’s X-Men era. Although I would have loved to see Wolverine face off against whatever enemy the universe throws at the Avengers next (my bets are on Mephisto), it will be interesting to see Marvel’s fresh take on mutants.
This is an exciting new chapter for the MCU, and whilst there is no concrete evidence yet that mutants will make an appearance, the recent Marvel storylines lend themselves nicely to the introduction of the X-Men and mutants in general. We'll just have to wait and see what the next phase has in store for the MCU universe (hopefully multiverse!).