An Open Letter to Fox: We Need To Talk
On this fine day in the winter of 2016, it’s come to my attention that Fox is still attempting with the darndest of chances and dirtiest of fingers to try and re-energize their X-Men franchise that, frankly, died three movies ago with X-Men: First Class. And I, as not only a huge fan of the X-Men but as a fan of comic-book films over all in general, only have six words for the executives at Fox: please, just stop what you’re doing.
We loved X2. We did. We even kinda loved the first X-Men movie you made. But then X-Men: The Last Stand came out. X-Men Origins Wolverine came out. And you kind of ruined the X-Men criminally, in ways that are frankly unforgivable.
There were so many things wrong with your X-Men franchise to begin with. Annoying lack of diversity, colorism, and homophobia. Erasure of several key diverse characters in favor of having a “white people pity party”. THAT’S where you messed up.
Let me clarify, I’m all for inclusion of everyone. I have no problem with there being white X-Men. I’d actually prefer some characters remain white from the way they were in the comics. But there are several characters of color, beautiful BLACK and Asian and Latinx characters who are begging for representation. And there are several white characters who are in desperate need of a race-bending.
So here are my top ten ideas for Fox if they really want to reboot this franchise. I think it can be done. So I’m (reluctantly) willing to play along if they do these ten things:
- DON’T give the rights back to Marvel.
Now, I know a lot of you gasped in horror at this one and screamed, “Blasphemy!” at this one. And I know, on the surface it sounds horrible. Why would we want the studio that so horribly ruined the X-Men to keep the rights? These beautiful characters should be taken as far away from Fox and their grubby, greedy hands as possible. However, when thinking about this I encountered an issue. And that’s: tone.
That’s not to say Marvel can’t make a dark film. The Captain America films have been their darkest to date, and also my favorites – not because of the darkness, but because they actually have substance and consequence. The ending of Civil War, for once, actually had consequences and changed the events of the MCU going forward.
But there’s something about the X-Men that’s way too deep for Marvel to handle. I’m already nervous about their approach to Black Panther, and how they plan to loop in pro-Black/pro-African commentary into the MCU. So if they can barely handle that, I’m scared to see what they’d do with the X-Men.
The X-Men’s struggle has consistently been embraced by marginalized groups as falling in tandem with racism, homophobia, and sexism. I don’t think Marvel could accurately portray that as realistically as it needs to be portrayed. And honestly, with the right voices and filmmakers, that could make X-Men films some of the greatest comic-book movies ever without being too preachy. Which leads to my second point:
- Get rid of everybody who worked on the original X-Men films…
This isn’t much of a shocker. Yes, I’m looking at you, Bryan Singer. I’m looking at you, Simon Kinberg. GET RID of them. All they’re doing is taking up space that could, frankly, be given to new voices and new opportunities.
Hollywood is desperate for new directors, so Fox could hire some up-and-coming talent to do their X-Men films. Or they could get some better, well-known talent to come on to their project. See how well Deadpool turned out? It was the first time in years that we’d seen the X-Men from a perspective other than Bryan Singer. And it was great.
But, speaking of Deadpool:
- EXCEPT for Deadpool! Keep Ryan Reynolds.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Deadpool movie or anything, but it was a good time and had some pretty funny jokes. And I agree with everyone that Ryan Reynolds makes a FANTASTIC Deadpool. It would make sense for him to stay on – he could just break the fourth wall and comment on it the way he always does. In fact, he could be the linchpin that Fox desperately needs to connect their old universe to their new one. He could introduce the new characters. He could serve as a bridge and close the gap.
And Fox, PLEASE keep making Deadpool movies. Do us all a favor.
- Do more solo films.
This should seem pretty obvious after the success of Deadpool, and the popularity of the Logan trailer online, but yeah, it’s time. There are so many X-Men characters that deserve a solo movie. Mystique. Storm. Nightcrawler. Emma Froste. Keep doing solo movies, Fox. We see that it’s clearly your strong suit.
I would actually recommend starting with more solo movies. Take a page from Marvel’s playbook and establish these characters solo first, before putting them together. Really develop them and make them interesting – not caricatures the way that they were in the original X-Men films. Reimagine the characters, closer to the way they were in the comics.
But, about the characters:
- Ditch Magneto, Mystique and Professor X.
I know I just said Mystique should get her own solo movie. And she should. I still think Mystique could be a big part of the X-Men. And you have to have Professor X and Magneto; they’re the cream of the crop when it comes to the X-Men, some of the most important members.
But it’s time to take a break from them.
We’ve spent six movies focusing on them and making them the center of a universe that has so many other, more interesting characters. It’s about time for them to take a step back and allow characters like Cyclops, Jean Grey, Havoc, Storm, Jubilee and more to take center stage. They can be supporting characters, but focus on the younger mutants.
- Cast all-new people. Don’t bring anyone back.
I know Fox said they were considering keeping Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, but no. Please no. Come on – Jennifer Lawrence admitted she doesn’t even like playing the character, she’s literally just doing it for a paycheck. And she doesn’t fit the character at all. There’s no reason Mystique should be a blonde Katniss for two-thirds of an X-Men movie. But that’s a whole other discussion.
As far as McAvoy and Fassbender, they’re both great, but as I said, we’ve spent far too much time with them. Get rid of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, too. Cast a new, completely different actor to play Magneto – and rebuild the character from the ground up. Give him some depth and an actor who can make the character closer to his origin. Same for Professor X.
And PLEASE, cast a dark-skinned actress as Storm. Quit with your colorism, Fox, and follow Marvel’s Black Panther example.
- Add some diversity.
I know the X-Men movies have been successful without people of color for the most part, but imagine how much more successful they could be if Storm, Jubilee, Sunspot, Bishop, Blink, and the many other non-white X-Men were allowed to be in the forefront and be on the same level as their white counterparts?
Also, there are many characters who are prime candidates for race-bending. Psylocke, for example. I always imagined she’d be Asian. And are we really going to keep Jean Grey white at this point? A Black actress could work wonders with the character. The same goes for Rogue.
- Share the rights with Marvel.
Yes, I know, I just said don’t give the rights back to Marvel. But this wouldn’t be entirely giving the rights back. This would be similar to Sony’s Spider-Man deal – allow Spider-Man into the MCU while still giving him his own franchise and having primary rights to the character.
X-Men is too big and expansive to fit neatly into the MCU. Frankly, the same goes for Spider-Man. It should be its own franchise. However, I can’t say I wouldn’t lose my nerd heart seeing Hulk and Wolverine, or Black Panther and Storm, on screen together for the first time. And it would help Fox astronomically, from a business perspective.
Imagine if Iron Man could show up and vouch for Xavier’s school. Or if Storm could laugh and have drinks with Scarlet Witch. Do you see the money flowing out of your pocket? I do.
Fox, this would be good for you. Do it.
- Experiment more.
I think this is very important. With Logan, it looks like Fox is finally embracing the darkness of the material and going in a more Pixar-esque, sad direction. I think that’s for the best.
I love it when comic book movies take on a specific genre. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a political thriller. Ant-Man was a heist film. Ant-Man and Wasp is said to be a romantic comedy. And Logan will be a Western.
I think it would be great for Fox to try their hand at this as well. There are so many things they could do with the X-Men in terms of genres.
10. Use the R-rating.
This has been Fox’s big trump card. Deadpool. Logan. They don’t restrict their characters or hold them back, and I think that’s fabulous, because it could be the thing that differentiates them from Marvel and DC.
Sure, DC has said they don’t mind making an R-rated film. But will they, really? With the success of Fox’s R-rated efforts, I think they may have found their niche. And if anyone’s a candidate for R-rated content, it’s the X-Men.
So, those are my ideas for a rebooted X-Men franchise. Fox, please listen to them. If you want to keep this franchise, it’s for the best.