Simon Kinberg, professional superhero gossip factory (and writer/producer of just about every superhero film currently in development), recently revealed that an X-Men television spin-off is very much on the horizon. Since he really is writing and producing pretty much all of Fox's superhero output, it's a safe bet to assume that he knows what he's talking about - and will end up writing and producing whatever shows end up appearing.
The big question is - what, or who, will that show be about?
Don't worry - we're all over it like a Marauder on a Morlock tunnel.
Candidate No. 1: The New Mutants
Now, long time X-Fans will recall that X-Men: First Class wasn't the first time that the X-Universe explored what would happen if a temporarily-not-evil Magneto taught a bunch of slightly less recognizable teen mutants.
Marvel comics totally did that in the 80's. Meet the New Mutants:
Think X-Men: First Class, only with a cast of teen superheroes carefully chosen to not break a limited television budget.
Aside from the obvious appeal of an accessible (CW friendly?) school based narrative and an attractive cast of teens and twenty-somethings, the show would have 100 issues of the original run of New Mutants, plus two reboots, to draw from.
And, as it happens, they're just about to introduce a bunch of them in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
What we could expect: X-Men: Next Class. Professor X (Patrick Stewart, in a recurring cameo) leaves the next generation of X-Men in the capable hands of whichever X-Men star is willing to work for $100,000 an episode. Together, the new team learn about their powers, and fight a series of minor villains from the X-Men series - culminating in a rivalry with the reformed Hellfire Club's new teen team, The Hellions, lead by Emma Frost (a returning January Jones).
Candidate No. 2: X-Factor
The X-Universe is full of spin-off teams, splinter groups and X-wannabes of varying types, and they've met with varying levels of success. Some, though, are more likely to appear than others. The odds of the time-traveling, cyborg led X-Force appearing on the small screen are relatively slim.
X-Factor, on the other hand (with a new, non-Simon Cowell-tinged name) are exactly the sort of team that we could see in the near future.
You can take your pick from three different versions: The first X-Factor was the original X-Men team, reformed to protect mutants - whilst posing as mutant-hunters. They were followed by a team lead by Havok (Lucas Till could well be hoping to get a phone call for something) that worked for the government, and also starred a certain mutant speedster named Quicksilver.
Either of which would be plausible, but the third generation of the comic would offer something even more appealing: An inexpensive noir detective show set in the Marvel Universe.
What we could expect: X-Men Investigations. Jamie Madrox, The Multiple Man (as seen briefly in X-Men: The Last Stand), wins a game show and uses the money to found a mutant detective agency. The show focuses on the day-to-day of the seedier part of mutant life, as well as the consequences of Madrox's powers - he can create a seemingly endless number of duplicates of himself, all of whom are essentially their own person. So Orphan Black, but with way more clones.
Candidate No. 3: Weapon X (and X-23)
Remember X-Men Origins: Wolverine? No, wait, don't leave.
Weapon X wouldn't be anything like that. Except that it would be about a team of rugged mercenary types, forced to work together in a series of black op type missions. Crucially, though, at no point would anyone inexplicably sew Ryan Reynolds' lips together.
Plus, you know that Wolverine-shaped hole Hugh Jackman is going to leave whenever he decides the insane amount of work it takes to play a disgruntled Canadian isn't worth it anymore? X-23 has you covered.
That's right, Marvel comics cloned Wolverine, and made him a good-looking teenage girl named Laura Kinney. And television could do that too.
What we could expect: Weapon X. A young amnesiac woman is drawn into a covert ops team against her will - and discovers that she is a clone of X-Men stalwart Wolverine (played by special guest star Hugh Jackman in the 'very special' season finale). Together with her teammates, the inexpensively cast Maverick, Silver Fox, John Wraith and whoever else is around, she attempts to find out where she came from. Wait, is Tatiana Maslany signed up for anything after Orphan Black yet?
Candidate's No. 4 and 5: Deadpool and Gambit
After the recent announcement that Marvel Studios will be bringing Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage to the small screen with Netflix, the gauntlet has very much been thrown down to the other Marvel comics rights holders: Can they even begin to compete on television with a combination of Marvel and Netflix?
For the X-Men to do so for Fox, that same Netflix model could well be their best bet - but the more conventional series detailed above may well not be the most natural fit for the more story-driven medium that streaming on demand provides.
They still have a few unused big hitters, though, who could still come out and play.
You know that Deadpool movie that's been all but promised? Well, his name-recognition isn't exactly what you'd call 'Iron Man-esque'. Could a solution be to introduce him through a supporting role in a big budget mini-series? Maybe even one featuring a good-looking, fan-favorite, suitably gritty character? One with a Cajun accent that could melt butter?
The idea of a Gambit mini-series actually isn't as ridiculous as it first sounds. True Detective's success suggests that the rise of must-see, big name TV isn't just a fad, and the Cajun character, much like Deadpool, would be a tough sell at a competitive box-office, inundated with more recognizable Marvel Studios heroes.
Whereas, get a surprisingly keen Channing Tatum on board, with a backdoor pilot for Deadpool thrown in, and you pretty much have the biggest Netflix series of all time.
What we could expect: Gambit, or X-Men: Noir. A disheveled, roguish Cajun mutant (Channing Tatum) is drawn into a murder mystery in New Orleans, and must fight his way through a series of dark, violent adventures to clear his name, and save his life. The involvement of a mysterious masked mercenary named Deadpool (voiced by Ryan Reynolds), with a habit of breaking the fourth wall, doesn't help matters overmuch. Bloodshed, nudity and widespread mayhem ensue.