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What’s Next For The X-Men Franchise?

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So, the long awaited X-Men: Apocalypse finally hit our side of the pond this last week (our friend in the States have to wait till May 27th) and while reviews have been mixed (you read our thoughts here), it’s currently sitting on an impressive $106 million international haul so it’s safe to say that fans are happy with Bryan Singer’s fourth go around with the mutant heroes. And pleased they should be as Singer packed the final part of the trilogy began with First Class with so many moments that had dyed in the wool X-fan’s punching the air with joy, and set the stage for future instalments of the franchise. So what do we have to look forward to down the line? Read on for some fan fuelled speculation. And, of course, SPOILERS!!

X-Men In The Nineties



Seeing as the last three movies have gone from the 60’s to the 70’s to the 80’s, it was no surprise when producer Simon Kinberg announced that the next X-Men movie would be set in the 90’s. Now, he could have bee referencing the upcoming New Mutants or X-Force, but with the X-Men ending Apocalypse in some wonderfully designed, colourful, 90’s-esque costumes, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Cyclops, Jean Grey and the rest of the gang have an adventure in the era where the X-Men’s popularity exploded.

What this could mean in terms of a story is anyone’s guess, but it’s a safe bet, considering how X-Men: Apocalypse played up the character’s comic-book routes more than other instalments, expect the narrative to get bigger and more flashy (that was the motto of the 90’s, right?). Who could the villain this time round? Well, the Dark Phoenix is a safe bet, but a piece of throwaway dialogue introduced the possibility of pretty much forgotten villain Proteus making his presence known. The son of Moira McTaggert, Proteus is a powerful, unstable mutant who possess the ability to alter reality and possess people’s bodies, but needs vast amount of energy to survive, jumping from body to body as he burns each one out pretty quickly. His first real appearance (after being teased off panel for some time) saw him target Phoenix, who possessed enough power to sustain eternally, and this could be the perfect set-up for the big screen debut of the Dark Phoenix. But who is this Dark Phoenix I’ve mentioned two times now? Well, just read on.

Phoenix Rising


Cast your mind back to the end of X-Men 2. While we did see Jean Grey perish, the vague shape of a firebird underneath the waters of Alkali Lake pointe toward Singer setting up the famous Phoenix Saga, where Grey was taken over by a powerful primordial force in shape of giant bird made of fire and given almost god-like powers (at one point it was revealed to be an aspect of her untapped powers, and that seems to be where they’re going here), for X-Men 3. Of course, Singer left the project, and the resultant X-Men: The Last Stand saw Brett Ratner completely squander the character. With Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey manifesting the Phoenix raptor in the final confrontation with Apocalypse (a moment that no doubt elicited many high pitched screams from X-fans), it’s clear to see that Singer wants another go at the character.

With the Phoenix already introduced, Singer can bypass the Phoenix saga, which involved a crystal that served as a gateway to other realities and other such concepts that may be a bit to out there for the franchise, and get to the much meatier Dark Phoenix Saga (not to say the Phoenix Saga isn’t pivotal, but the Dark Phoenix Saga is the one everyone remembers), which saw Jean driven to the dark side (manipulated by the Hellfire Club, but seeing as they were pretty much decimated in First Class expect someone else to take that role), destroying whole planets, and being put on an intergalactic hit list. This serves as the next logical step for a plot point introduced in Apocalypse, concerning Jean and everyone else’s fear she can’t control her powers, gives the next movie the perfect villain in the form of the X-Men’s own team mate.

X-Men...In...Space!!!



With Days of Future Past introducing time travel into the mix, it was only a matter of time before the intergalactic side of the X-Men would be explored on the big screen. Yes, your favourite team of mutants are avid space travellers, usually mixing it up with the alien Shi’ar Empire, with many an important storyline taking place in the vast inky blackness, the most well known being (there’s that name again) the Dark Phoenix Saga. Singer has hinted that the X-Men are space bound, which further cements the Dark Phoenix as distinct possibility, and it also presents the perfect chance to introduce the fan favourite Gladiator, a purple skinned, Superman-like powerhouse who heads up the Shi’arImperial Guard, providing the X-Men no shortage of threats to face while in outer space.

But beyond the Dark Phoenix, space also holds some pretty big possibilities for Cyclops, with the Shi’ar figuring hugely into his comic book history, leaving the Summers boys orphan when the Empire’s ruler at the time, the mad Emperor D’Ken, ordered his parents kidnapped. While his mother died, his father Christopher escaped and stayed among the stars, becoming the swashbuckling space pirate Corsair, tearing things up across the galaxy as leader of the Starjammers. That’s not the only Summers family member lost in space however, with Cyclops lost brother Gabriel also being a casualty of the tragic events that ripped the family apart. Still in his mother’s womb when she was kidnapped, Gabriel was raised as a slave in  the empire, developing the mutant ability to manipulate various forms of energy. Taking on the codename Vulcan, years of being a slave twisted his mind until only revenge was his only purpose in life, taking over the Shi’ar empire and becoming its new mad emperor. So yeah, plenty for the X-Men to do in space.

Something Sinister This Way Comes


If you stayed around after the credits (and why wouldn’t you have?), you saw a mysterious man walking though the remains of the Weapon X facility while workers go about cleaning up the mess made by Wolverine’s rampage. These people work for Essex Corp, which can only be a nod towards Nathaniel Essex, better known to fans of the X-Men universe as Mr. Sinister. A genius geneticist and mutant supremacist, Sinister has being a constant thorn in the X-Men’s side, ever since he was genetically modified by Apocalypse and given a vast array of powers, such as immortality, telepathy, super human strength, and the ability to alter his cellular structure to name just a few. Of course, his origin in the movie universe will no doubt be different since Apocalypse wasn’t around to create him, and Essex Corp is an intriguing premise, perhaps a front for Sinister’s nefarious deeds (similar to another X-villain, Sublime) or, even more intriguing, the financial backers behind Weapon X. That would explain their presence in the facility.

So what could Sinister’s ultimate plan be?. well, his lackey is seen in possession of Wolverine’s blood. In the comics, Sinister has a special interest in Scott Summers and Jean Grey, thinking they would sire the perfect mutant. It would be easy enough to transplant his obsession onto Wolverine, and possessing his blood could lead to the big screen debut of fan-favorite X-23, a younger, female clone of the gruff, fast healing mutant who Singer has gone on record as wanting included in the long in development X-Force. While anything could happen with the character, Essex Corp’s presence in Weapon X does point to them and Sinister causing problems in the next Wolverine movie. It’s also worth noting that Sinister also had dealings with Gambit, so he could be seen in Channing Tatum’s delayed solo outing as the character whenever it gets off the ground.

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