After Dark Phoenix bombed last month, the future of the X-Men franchise may look as bleak as the Days of Future Past. Still, there is one “X-Men” movie in the pipeline that’s already finished, but it may not hit theaters at all.
That movie is called The New Mutants, starring Maisie Williams and Anya Taylor-Joy. It’s scheduled to come out in April of next year, but it’s been pushed back so many times now, Williams has wondered out loud if it would come out at all. There has been some speculation that Disney, which now owns Fox, may cut its losses and not release it in theaters, premiering it on Disney+ or Hulu.
That’s a pretty harsh fall for a franchise that arguably sparked Hollywood’s modern superhero obsession. How did we get here, and can they come back?
‘X-Men’ was still big only two years ago
Before X-Men came out in 2000, we got a superhero movie about once a year at most. Nowadays, Marvel Studios alone puts out as many as three a year. In 2019 alone, factoring in all the studios, we’ve had Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, Dark Phoenix, and Spider-Man Far From Home. That’s five superhero movies, and the year is barely half over.
So was it superhero fatigue? The big success of Spider-Man: Far From Home says no. Was it fatigue of the X-Men in particular? Maybe somewhat, but only two years ago, Logan, which capped the story of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, made $226 million, and that was considered a big success. It even got an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, and that’s pretty much unheard of for a superhero movie.
Even before it came out, Dark Phoenix was plagued by bad buzz. Its story, which is very well respected among comic book aficionados, had already been attempted once in X-Men: The Last Stand, which made a lot of money but not many fans admit to liking it. The new film was seen as an attempt to “do it right this time,” but the movie couldn’t get out of its own way, with some speculation it had to undergo significant changes because it was too similar to Captain Marvel. The stench of failure was strong before anyone had seen it.
The result: a movie that only made $64 million total in the United States. That’s less than what Spider-Man: Far From Home made in its first two days, according to Box Office Mojo. Director Simon Kinberg fell on the sword.
What about ‘New Mutants’?
In the comics and the movies, New Mutants is a spin-off of X-Men. It’s about five young mutants escaping from a facility where they are held against their will. Anya Taylor-Joy’s character, who can teleport, is the sister of the X-Man Colossus. Maisie Williams’ character can turn into a wolf. The movie was filmed in 2017, and it was originally supposed to come out in March of 2018.
Like Dark Phoenix, and indeed partly because of Dark Phoenix, the movie kept getting pushed back. The movie will have sat on the shelf for more than a year by the time it comes out next April — if it comes out next April.
Disney purchasing Fox only complicated matters, with the Mouse House seemingly treating Fox’s movie like an unloved stepchild. Williams, in a Rolling Stone story with her Game of Thrones co-star Sophie Turner, said, “Who knows when the f— that’s gonna come out?”
The irony? Tuner played the title character in Dark Phoenix. The Stark sisters — Game of Thrones reference — can’t catch a break as mutants.
Can the ‘X-Men’ be saved?
Even if The New Mutants never sees the light of day, it’s hard to imagine Disney would completely abandon a franchise that had been so successful up until the very end. Altogether, the 12 movies in the series, including the two Deadpool films, have made more than $6 billion worldwide, with an average of $502 million per movie. Disney won’t leave that money on the table forever.
People are no doubt waiting for the MCU to “save” the X-Men, just as some people say they saved Spider-Man. But according to Marvel’s creative chief Kevin Feige, the mutants are not top priority right now.
He told io9: “It’s all just beginning and the five-year plan that we’ve been working on, we were working on before any of that was set. So really it’s much more, for us, less about specifics of when and where [the X-Men will appear] right now and more just the comfort factor and how nice it is that they’re home. That they’re all back. But it will be a very long time.”
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