X-Men fans rejoice! For all the rumors of hostility between Marvel and Fox, today Variety exclusively reported that an X-Men TV series is in the works - co-produced by Marvel Entertainment and Fox! Fox has signed up to what's called a "Put Pilot," essentially meaning that the network must air the pilot - or face substantial financial penalties. So this looks like a sure thing!
There's already one X-Men-inspired TV series in the works - Legion - and Fox has been discussing another series for quite some time. The initial proposal, Hellfire, has now been cancelled, and this replaces it. Although the series hasn't been given a title, we know the bare bones: it's written by Matt Nix (of Burn Notice fame), and features a new mutant going on the run in a hostile world. This new mutant's family join up with an underground network of mutants, and must fight to survive.
The concept is one that will be familiar to any long-time X-Men reader. It's clearly inspired by Xavier's Railroad, a background concept developed in the mid-'90s. Xavier created an international network of mutants and mutant sympathizers to ferry new mutants to safety when they developed their powers. At the time, Marvel dove into the central X-Men concept of mutants being feared and hated, and this idea was reminiscent of the organized networks who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.
Marvel and Fox will co-produce the series, and Variety report the involvement of Bryan Singer, Lauren Shuler Donner, Simon Kinberg, plus Marvel’s Jeph Loeb and Jim Chory. To give you an idea of how closely Fox and Marvel will be working, Jeph Loeb - Head of Marvel Entertainment - stated:
“Marvel Television is thrilled to be co-producing with 20th Century Fox Television on our first project. Matt’s a huge fan of ‘X-Men’ and his take on ‘X-Men,’ with its rich characters and high-stakes adventure, is exactly the show we want on Fox. It’s a great team of creative producers who will be making something entirely unique.”
This is a radical change of direction for Marvel and Fox. The early 2000s saw Marvel's Mutant X TV series - conceptually similar to the X-Men - lead to an awkward lawsuit. Relations between the two companies remained tense for years, getting to their worst when 2015 saw both Marvel and Fox using rival versions of Quicksilver! Comic book fans remain concerned, not least because October's "Death of X" event seems set to cancel the whole X-Men line. So this Put Pilot stands as a dazzling beacon of hope for X-Men fans.
It's great to see the two companies working together, but this doesn't mean that the X-Men will be coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe any time soon. Marvel Entertainment and Marvel Studios are separate branches of Disney, pursuing their own goals and strategies. Meanwhile, Deadpool's phenomenal success will have proved to Fox that the X-Men brand still has tremendous power. All that being said, this is just the latest indication that the two companies are enjoying better relations, and we're all winners as a result.
The advent of Legion already had X-Men fans excited, but that show sounded so independent from the central X-Men mythos that it was a very unusual creature. This, though, hones in on some of the central concepts of the X-Men's world - that mutants are hated, feared, and persecuted. We can only await further news with bated breath!