The X-Men film rights are back at Marvel. This means that everyone’s favourite mutants can be integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), adding yet another depth and layer to Marvel Studios’ roster.
While head honcho Kevin Feige revealed it might be a few years until Xavier’s students debut in the MCU, his recent comments at Comic-Con International in San Diego indicate they could still be a part of Phase 4. So, the question is, who’ll direct the X-Men film?
The prime candidate could be a name familiar to Feige and the rest of Marvel Studios: Joss Whedon, the director of 2012’s The Avengers and 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Whedon’s popularity might be at an all-time low due to his part in 2017’s Justice League; however, it’s important to note his stitch job was ordered by Warner Bros. and he had less than six months to overhaul an entire film. This shouldn’t take away from his previous work and seemingly doing the impossible in bringing the Avengers to the big screen.
While the Russos are the darlings of the MCU because of their four films (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame), none of this would’ve been possible if Whedon hadn’t laid the groundwork for what followed his tenure. If his Avengers movie had turned into Justice League, it’s unlikely Phase 4 would even be a discussion at this point…
In terms of the X-Men, Whedon is a certified fan, having revealed that Kitty Pryde served as the inspiration for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He also contributed to an early script of 2000’s X-Men, but his most notable X-work came in the form of the Astonishing X-Men comic book series.
“That was the nerd fantasy fulfilled. I don’t feel like I ever have to have another one like that,” Whedon told Wired. “Just being able to bring back Kitty Pryde, to give Kitty a journey. Kitty was the mother of Buffy, as much as anybody.”
Whedon wrote the first 24 issues of the series that received critical and fan acclaim. The X-Men is often noted for blurring continuities and having a timeline that no one understands, yet Whedon simplified it into a story that anyone could pick up and enjoy—whether you were an old or new fan.
The MCU’s X-Men will require a fresh angle to differentiate them from everything established in the Fox films and this is where Whedon could step in. His run on Astonishing X-Men is still remembered as one of the best in recent times, showing evidence that he has good and innovative ideas for where the X-Men can go. As a film-maker, he has the tools needed to “reboot” the team and integrate them into the MCU.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that Whedon will want to tackle such a massive project for the MCU again after Avengers: Age of Ultron. He revealed that it was a source of major stress for him and resulted in him leaving the franchise for good.
Then again, maybe time does heal all wounds and Whedon would consider tackling the X-Men for Marvel Studios.