Inside X-Men ’97’s Risky Wolverine Decision: MCU’s X-Men Reboot Takes Daring Leap

X-Men ’97 doesn’t cater to Wolverine’s popularity, and it’s a model that the MCU should follow if they want their X-Men films to stand out.

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in X2 and Wolverine in X-Men '97

X-Men ’97 takes Wolverine in a bold direction, but it’s one that the MCU should follow when the X-Men enter the universe. 2000’s X-Men adapted Marvel’s mutants to the silver screen in exciting fashion. While characters like Patrick Stewart’s Professor X and Ian McKellen’s Magneto are excellent adaptations of the characters, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine was the standout and became the immediate fan-favorite. He wasn’t the main character but was the centerpiece of Fox’s marketing for the X-Men films, and he also received three solo spin-off films.

Wolverine has always been a great character, but the X-Men have plenty of other intriguing mutants to follow. X-Men: The Animated Series understood that and folded Wolverine into the mix with other mutants, like Cyclops, Jean Grey, Rogue, Gambit, and Beast. X-Men ’97 continued that trend, sidelining Wolverine in favor of the other mutants who have equally interesting storylines. While Wolverine remains a popular character, the MCU should follow this model for its X-Men.

The MCU Need To Keep Its Focus Off Of Wolverine Like X-Men ’97

Gambit powering up Wolverine's claws in X-Men '97

Wolverine has appeared in nine films and will make his 10th appearance this year in Deadpool & Wolverine. It’ll be awesome to see Jackman’s iconic portrayal of the character debut in the MCU, but Marvel shouldn’t ride Wolverine’s popularity for its X-Men. The main X-Men team, including Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, and Rogue, are interesting characters with so many storylines from the comics to choose from. Even outside the main X-Men, there are dozens of amazing mutants that Marvel can incorporate into its films.

By focusing on the other X-Men, the MCU can stand out from the Fox films, which spent much of their focus on Logan. Even in the First Class timeline, Jackman still made a cameo in First Class and Apocalypse and had a lead role in Days of Future Past. The X-Men are a team of young mutants developing their powers and growing as leaders under Professor X’s tutelage, and the MCU needs to focus on that and expand it. Yes, Marvel will need a Wolverine, but it can mix him into the team rather than putting him at the forefront.

Th MCU Should Focus On A Few X-Men At A Time

Xavier teaches a class on the Astral Plane in X-Men '97

One reason X-Men ’97 has succeeded so far is that it gives equal time to each character it wants to develop. One episode may be focused on Cyclops and Jean Grey, while the next is focused on Gambit, Rogue, and Magneto. It knows that audiences love many of these characters, but they can’t all be the stars of each episode. Marvel can follow a similar template with its movies, where a few members of the X-Men are the focus of one film, and it changes for each one. This way, everyone can develop before a massive climactic event.

The best X-Men films are the ones that focus on a few select mutants. First Class succeeded by keeping the attention mainly on Professor X and Magneto, and others like X2 and Days of Future Past featured plenty of mutants but mainly centered around mutants like Jean Grey, Mystique, and Cyclops. The less-beloved X-Men films like The Last Stand and Apocalypse included too many mutants and felt overcrowded with colliding stories. The MCU should focus on only a few at a time but switch things up so each character gets equal screen time.

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