Why didn’t Marvel make a proper X-Men movie Announcement at SDCC? At the end of the massive Marvel Studios Phase 4 Hall H panel, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige made reference to mutants on the list of topics he didn’t have time to discuss. The audience in attendance and social media immediately lit up with excitement at the notion that we’ll finally be seeing Xavier’s School for Gifted Children in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The mutants joining the MCU has been something fans have wanted ever since 2012’s The Avengers proved the crossover power of the franchise. Fox’s X-Men movies, while initially beloved, have been mostly lackluster, the series fading away on a low with this summer’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix, one of the year’s biggest flops. Disney buying Fox means the mutants are back in the Marvel Studios stable, removing all hurdles for a top-to-bottom reboot that puts Cyclops, Wolverine, and the rest of the lot in the same universe as Spider-Man and Black Panther.
Feige’s brief, direct mention of the term “mutants” may be exciting in and of itself, seeing as it means the X-Men are coming to the MCU, but it’s also disappointingly vague given that Disney now own the rights. However, studio politics are complicated, and Disney, Marvel Studios, and Feige are playing coy for the sake of making the transition of Fox assets into Disney’s vault as simple as possible.
Part of the conditions surrounding Disney’s purchase of Fox’s IP was that there could no development of anything Fox-owned until the ink was dry and the deal had been finalized. An acquisition of this magnitude has so many moving parts, with so many different conditions surrounding each individual property, Disney have to wait until they have everything in-line before even considering production. This is largely inconsequential because most franchises are their own thing and will either become dormant or continue as normal, but the Marvel stuff is different because Disney will want to fold them into their juggernaut ongoing universe as soon as possible.
We all know it’s going to happen, but Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios need to be careful about when they make it definitive. They don’t want anyone to think they’ve been working on anything X-Men related before the Disney-Fox deal was completed. To suggest as much could raise suspicions and get Disney, Marvel, and Feige in trouble with legislators for over-stepping the bounds of the $71.3 billion agreement. The deal was only finished in March. Even if it was prioritized, getting a movie of this scale up-and-running to an announce-able degree, with a title, major filmmakers, and leads, takes longer than four months.
There are layers upon layers of design and concept work to get through. Even if Marvel just had a logo, they’d be cutting it very fine, and Feige has talked about wanting to avoid making those kind of thin announcements anyway. The MCU Phase 4 slate that was shown was plenty to begin with. Seven Marvel Cinematic Universe productions will release in 2021, across TV and film. Marvel Studios aren’t slowing down any time soon. The mutants are coming, and when they are it’ll be a great cause for celebration. In the meantime, we have plenty to look forward to, and none of it will get Feige and Marvel in legal hot water.
Related: Marvel Secretly Announced MCU Phase 5 Movies At SDCC