ByTom Bacon, writer at
I'm a film-and-TV fan who grew up with a deep love of superhero comics! Follow me on Twitter @TomABacon or on Facebook @tombaconsuperheroes!
Tom Bacon

2016 was a strange year for X-Men films. Although X-Men: Apocalypse didn't perform badly, it didn't exactly fulfill the studio's expectations. Meanwhile, Deadpool surprised Fox by earning a whopping $783 million at the box office, proving that the X-Men franchise may be a lot more malleable than we thought! In the wake of 2016, Fox is surely carefully considering the future of the franchise. Here's what we know so far!

The Tentpole Films

Sophie Turner in 'X-Men: Apocalypse'. [Credit: 20th Century Fox]
Sophie Turner in 'X-Men: Apocalypse'. [Credit: 20th Century Fox]

X-Men: Apocalypse set up myriad new plots for the X-Men, not least a reprise of the Dark Phoenix Saga. Back in May, Bryan Singer was openly discussing taking the X-Men to the final frontier:

“Another thing that’s been introduced in the comics is a big alien, interstellar tenant within the X-Men universe that hasn’t been explored. And to me, that might be kind of fun because I’m a huge Star Wars and Star Trek fan, and exploring the X-Men universe and being able to utilize that would be exciting, visually.“

We know that the new cast — such as Tye Sheridan — were signed up for multi-picture deals, while the First Class cast such as Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence were a little more wary. Fassbender recently indicated to Latino Review's Kellvin Chavez that he was definitely willing to return:

Significantly, though, when interviewed by Empire Film he gave a much more nuanced response:

“I don’t know to be honest. I haven’t made any sort of decision on it because I have no idea what’s happening next with the franchise to be honest.”

The problem is likely that X-Men: Apocalypse just didn't perform all that well in the US box office; it earned $155.5 million, failing to break even! To be sure, as I've observed elsewhere the movie's worldwide performance was far stronger, but it just didn't perform how Fox hoped. The tentpole movies seem to be in limbo right now, with the studio trying to decide where to go next; there are even rumors of another reboot.

Creative Spinoffs Are The Future

Deadpool's performance, on the other hand, has surely given Fox something of a confidence boost. Blazing its own trail, Deadpool proved that you can do superhero movies with a wide range of tones and styles. It was inevitable that a sequel would be greenlit, although that sequel has had real problems; Tim Miller has left due to creative differences, and only time will tell what impact his departure has on the quality of Deadpool 2.

Regardless, after Deadpool's phenomenal success, it's clear that the studio is willing to be a little more... experimental. Logan promises to be a brutal, bloody Western, and introduces us to X-23 — a character who surely has the potential to replace Hugh Jackman's Wolverine as the flagship superhero. Josh Boone's promises to be another comic book-accurate movie, but all indications are that it will take a very distinctive supernatural bent. The villain of the film has been confirmed to be a powerful spiritual entity known as the Demon Bear, while the stars include the demonic Magik and the mystical Cheyenne Dani Moonstar.

Magik, introduced as one of the New Mutants. [Credit: Marvel Comics]
Magik, introduced as one of the New Mutants. [Credit: Marvel Comics]

One spinoff has hit real problems, though. With Gambit Director Doug Liman leaving the project in favor of the DCEU, that particular movie seems to be dead in the water. Fox recently removed the October 6, 2017 untitled movie from their schedules, and it's believed that reflects Gambit's troubled status.

A Wider Cinematic Universe

[Credit: FX]
[Credit: FX]

Excitingly, 2017 will see the X-Men universe expand onto the smaller screen. Fox Television and Marvel Entertainment are working together on two TV series; the first to air will be Legion, starring Dan Stevens as the all-powerful but psychologically disturbed mutant. There are rumors Patrick Stewart will even make his presence known in a cameo!

Fox is clearly taking a notes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where the MCU spans a wide variety of media — from films to TV shows, from YouTube channels to tie-in comics. It's an approach with real potential; certain stories are simply better suited to a serial plot, and you can get a much stronger character focus over the length of a series. That said, given Fox has had real problems juggling continuity with just the films, adding more media could just cause problems.

Dan Stevens in 'Legion'. [Credit: FX]
Dan Stevens in 'Legion'. [Credit: FX]

Whatever the long-term results of this, though, Legion promises to be one of the most unusual and creative superhero dramas of all time. If it sets the standards for future X-Men TV shows, then this widening universe could be rich with potential.

See also:

All in all, we end 2016 with Fox's X-Men franchise being reshaped. It's not really a surprise that even stars like Michael Fassbender don't know where the studio is planning to go next; X-Men: Apocalypse's mixed performance has doubtless left Fox with a lot of questions. That said, fans of the franchise do have a lot of reasons to be excited. The studio looks set to creatively expand the cinematic universe like never before, embracing different styles of movies in Logan, Deadpool 2 and New Mutants, while adding tremendously exciting TV shows into the mix. 2017 could be a very good year for X-Men fans!


Are you excited about the future of the X-Men franchise?

(Source: Empire Film Podcast, Poll Image Credit: 20th Century Fox)


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