Quicksilver: We Didn’t See That Coming!

Spoiler Alert: If anyone reading this has not seen the latest episode of WandaVision and do not want to be spoiled then click away!

With that out of the way, it’s time to go over the latest WTF moment in the Disney+ TV show WandaVision, which is the kickoff to Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The show stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany as the Avengers Wanda Maximoff and Vision. Unlike previous MCU incarnations the show was in a sitcom format but recent developments have revealed WandaVision to be much more than a comedy.

Apparently, Wanda has experienced some kind of emotional breakdown and used her powers to create an alternate reality in a New Jersey town called Westview where she lives a sitcom existence with her husband, Vision, complete with a laugh track. However, cracks have manifested in her reality as we are fed clues as to what is actually happening. Each question answered led to new questions including the shock reveal at the end of episode five of WandaVision called “On a Very Special Episode…”, which was a true head spinner.

In the MCU, Wanda’s superpowered brother Pietro aka Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) died during Avengers: Age of Ultron and Wanda is still mourning his death. But at the end of the episode Quicksilver shows up in her front door as her long-lost brother (complete with audience cheers at the revelation of the special guest star). The true shocker was that Quicksilver was not portrayed by Taylor-Johnson but by Evan Peters who played the same character in the Fox X-Men films, a completely different film universe unrelated to the MCU.

Needless to say, fans online are geeking out over Peters’ reprisal of Quicksilver because it now creates a link between the two film universes and is just a taste of what is to come with the MCU films. The next Spider-Man film will bring back several actors from the Sony Spider-Man films to reprise their roles and the sequel to Doctor Strange tells us that the sorcerer will be up to his ears with alternate realities by the sequel’s title, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. However, the crossing over of film universes actually began in the most recent Spider-Man film (Spider-Man: Far From Home), which showed J.K. Simmons reprising his role of J. Jonah Jameson from the Sony Spider-Man films.

Quicksilver’s appearance in WandaVision raised many questions such as is that actually the Quicksilver from the Fox X-Men films? He acted differently than the speedster featured in the last X-Men films. Or is that his personality has been supplanted by Wanda’s powers? In “On a Very Special Episode…” it was revealed that the townspeople in Westview had their true personalities supplanted by fictional characters to serve the comedic hijinks in Wanda’s sitcom reality.

Also, if this is the Fox X-Men Quicksilver then he is replacing the MCU version of Quicksilver because he is dead and Wanda clearly makes a point in the episode five that she cannot resurrect the dead. That contradicts the fact that Vision is alive in the Westview reality and she is aware that her husband is dead in the MCU. then again Vision is an artificial being so she may have been able to bring him back to “life” with her powers. Also, since the episode takes place in the 1980s, Quicksilver in the Fox X-Men films was alive during this time period and it would have been easier to transport him to the 80s setting of the Westview reality.

The special guest appearance of Quicksilver gives us hope that other Fox X-Men characters portrayed by the original actors may appear in the MCU. Olsen has said WandaVision will feature a surprise cameo on the level of Luke Skywalker/Mark Hamill appearing in The Mandalorian. Who could that be? Patrick Stewart as Professor X? Hugh Jackman as Wolverine? There were reports a year or so ago that those actors met with Marvel Studios for undisclosed reasons. Maybe it was to negotiate them returning? On the other hand, both actors made it clear they were done with their roles. Perhaps Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) will be the surprise. His breaking of the fourth wall would fit in well with the meta nature of WandaVision, if one thinks about it.

Of course, there could be another explanation and Quicksilver could be Mephisto in disguise or another hapless townsperson whose personality was altered to becoming Pietro, but not his appearance. In other words, Peters is playing a Westview resident forced to assume the Quicksilver personna and the fact that Peters is playing the person is just a nod and wink to viewers and fans. Still, the casting was a bonafide treat not just for MCU fans but for those fans of the Fox X-Men films who can take heart that those films have not been forgotten.

Bringing The X-Men Into The MCU

When Walt Disney Entertainment acquired 20th Century Fox the entertainment giant gained the rights to several Marvel Comics properties, particularly the mutant superheroes, the X-Men. Ever since then fans of the comic book and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) have speculated into oblivion over the possibilites of bringing the X-Men into the MCU.

Aside from the logistics of finding and hiring the right people (actors, writers, directors, etc.), there is the hurdle of making the mutants fit logically in the  intricate MCU. Consider the fact that the mutants in the comics and the Fox X-Men films have been a part of their societies for many years and were widely feared and distrusted. When watching an older MCU film, it is clear that mutants are not anywhere to be found (aside from a deleted clip from Iron Man where Nick Fury references mutants). Where are they? The simple answer is that mutants do not exist and the closest thing to the MCU had were the Inhumans who only appeared on TV shows and it’s murky if they are actually part of the MCU. That is a debate for another time, but looking closely at the TV shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. it can be said that most shows are part of the MCU. Otherwise, where were the mutants during the calamitous events of the Avengers films? The heroes could have used their help!

On a related note, the same headache is going on with the Eternals. If they existed in the MCU throughout history why were they MIA during Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame? We’ll find out how this is explained when their film comes out next year.

Now, Marvel Studios is free to bring the X-Men into the MCU, so how can it be done? There are a few options and hopefully, Marvel Studios will find the best one. Here is what can be done:

Continue reading

Recasting The X-Men

With Disney and Marvel Studios now having regained the film and TV rights to the Marvel Comics property, the X-Men, it is inevitable that a reboot of the film franchise is coming. There is a ton of speculation and fan lists out there over who should be cast in a rebooted X-Men team that will appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). An issue with these lists (and this one, too) is that casting films and TV shows is more complicated than saying “Bryan Cranston is bald so he should be Professor X!” Complicating the casting is the crowded plate of upcoming MCU films, some of which are not in production yet, and these have been delayed.

At this point, it is hard to tell when an X-Men film will be made, so many acting choices will not be available or no longer suitable for the roles. By the time Marvel Studios gets around to casting Wolverine, fan-favorite Tom Hardy may be too old. But for fun, let’s imagine if everything was cleared up and Marvel Studios gave the X-Men a go to begin preproduction tomorrow. Who would be the best candidates to play the iconic X-Men and associated mutants? Take a look and feel free to add your opinions in the comments on these picks and of other mutants not included in the list.

The Original Team

Cyclops

While the previous two actors who portrayed Scott Summers were fine, their roles were rather limited. In an MCU version of Cyclops, he has to be shown as undeniably the team leader, not Wolverine or Mystique or a mutant played by some other A-list actor. A true leading man is required for this role, which is why Chris Pine would be perfect for playing Cyclops. With his role as Captain Kirk, good looks and charm, Pine could believably come off as the leader of the X-Men and go toe to toe with Canadian upstarts with healing powers. Other candidates: Armie Hammer, Charlie Hunman, Matt Lanter, Garrett Hedlund

Jean Grey

The tortured telepathic member of the X-Men has to be portrayed by someone who can evoke sympathy, yet fear and dread when she transforms into the deadly Phoenix. In her role as the rebellious and complex artificial person, Dolores Abernathy, in Westworld, Evan Rachel Wood has demonstrated the acting range to bring us a Jean Grey struggling with her immense telepathic powers as she becomes the Dark Phoenix; which should happen in the third or fourth film of the rebooted franchise. Other candidates: Felicity Jones, Emilia Clarke, Rebecca Ferguson, Rosa Salazar

Beast

Both actors who portrayed Hank McCoy ran with the roles and made them memorable. This role of the team’s brawny, yet eloquent scientist needs to be portrayed by someone who comes off as intellectual but able to hold his own in a fight. It would be great if Kevin Feige could look the other way and allow Nicholas Hoult to reprise his role, but since that will not happen let’s go with Chad L. Coleman, who can do the job well and bring something new to the role. Other candidates: Joel Edgerton, Cillian Murphy, Pedro Pascal, Josh McDermitt

Angel

In his previous appearances, Warren Worthington III aka Angel, has been largely delegated to a background character, despite some interesting setups. In an MCU X-Men film, Angel, along with the original lineup, should take center stage. For this role Liam Hemsworth should be hired to play the flying mutant. He has the good looks, lanky build and acting ability to stand out. Besides casting a Hemsworth in the MCU worked out before! Other candidates: Sam Claflin, Jack Reynor, Garrett Hedlund, Logan Lerman

Iceman

Many fan castings for Bobby Drake often pick Nick Robinson, and that is because Iceman is a homosexual and Robinson played a gay teen in Love, Simon. Robinson is a good choice, but there are better candidates and he may not want to be typecast simply because he portrayed a gay character. Justice Smith is an inspired choice; he’s younger than the other actors, and more importantly talented enough to make Iceman shine in a new X-Men film. Other candidates: Chandler Riggs, Nick Robinson, Dylan Minnette, Curran Walters

Continue reading

X-Men: Herald Of The Modern Age Of Superhero Films

It was twenty years ago on this day that X-Men premiered in theaters. While many at that time knew of the film’s potential impact, its success was still surprising given how the superhero film has grown in stature.

Before the first X-Men film came out on July 14, 2000, there were many prominent and successful superhero films that made their mark in pop culture like Superman: The Movie, Batman and The Mask. However, the splash they made was not as intense as the one X-Men made. Yes, after those films made millions at the box office, superheroes were the craze with merchandising and copycat films and TV shows, yet X-Men heralded a new and lasting age of superhero films that continues to this day (well, coronavirus notwithstanding and causing most theaters to shut down and film studios to delay film releases). It was not that X-Men was a better film than say Superman: The Movie, it probably was that it was the first genuine hit based on a Marvel superhero IP. Before anyone brings up Blade, that film was marketed more as an action/horror film and most had not heard of Blade. The X-Men were different, they were prominent in geek culture and many fans were aching for a big-budget adaptation of the superhero mutants. They wanted to see how Wolverine would be realized in live action, how filmmakers could translate the complexity of the X-Men comic books. 

Director Bryan Singer did a fine job distilling and presenting a somewhat simplified version of the X-Men. This is not a criticism but rather a compliment in that he and the filmmakers (which included future Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige) were able to strip down what worked in the comic books, which were the best characters to bring forth, and knew what would resonate with audiences and fans. 

In their wisdom, they were nearly spot on with their casting. Starting with Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, which was ironic considering Jackman replaced the original actor cast in the role, Dougray Scott, after Scott was injured during filming of Mission: Impossible II. Some scoffed at Jackman’s casting because he was tall, good looking and lacked a filmography that screamed comic book action star. But from the moment that Rogue (Anna Paquin) met Wolverine in a Canadian bar following a cage fight, we all knew after witnessing Wolverine’s feral nature that the casting gods were generous. 

Another equally important casting choice was Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier, the leader and heart of the X-Men. Often, people mock fan casting for being ridiculous and unrealisitc. But time and time again Stewart was the fan favorite for a hypothetical X-Men film. Thankfully this proved to be perfect as Stewart brought gravitas and humanity to the role. We believed he was a kind and just mentor, who championed humanity. Needless to say. Ian McKellan as the villainous Magneto was a pleasant surprise given so many doubted his casting due to his age. However, McKellan displayed the same gravitas as Patrick Stewart and was able to believably match Hugh Jackman’s vicious Wolverine with his own cunning and hatred towards humanity.

For years, filmmakers were challenged by the idea of bringing the mutant team to life. Two reasons were because of budget and the complexity of the team. Their storylines were more mature than standard comic book stories as they tackled racism and related strife. It would not do to treat an X-Men film as a campy romp, nor could it be a mindless action fest. The villains were more nuanced with causes that audiences could sympathize with, namely the evil mutants’ actions resulted from humankind’s fear and bigotry. X-Men displayed this naunce splendidly, thanks to solid performances and Singer’s direction.

The film is not perfect, namely in the execution of the action pieces, which feel a bit pedestrian and low key compared to what filmmakers have been able to pull off in recent years. Some of those fights were cringe worthy! But no one should hold that against X-Men and the accomplishment of everyone involved with the film.

X-Men was not the biggest hit of that year, but it did well enough to excite fans and film executives who saw the box office potential of superhero films. Helping to cement the modern age of superhero films in the early years were Spider-Man, X2: X-Men United and Batman Begins. There were fits and starts in that decade but by 2008, the runaway success of Iron Man and The Dark Knight signaled that superhero films were here to stay and be a major influence in films. 

This was all due to X-Men; keep that in mind during the next viewing of this film.