As excited as we are about Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, and whatever comes next for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the question many of us want to know the answer to is simple but huge: how will Marvel incorporate the X-Men into its universe once the Disney-Fox deal is done?
Surprisingly, Captain Marvel might actually be the key to answering that question. Here’s why.
The association between Carol Danvers and the X-Men stretches back to 1980 and was born of a particularly misjudged Avengers storyline. In Avengers #200, Danvers (then operating as Ms. Marvel) left the team after falling in love with Marcus, the son of Avengers villain Immortus. So far, so soap opera.
But as part of this story, Marcus kidnapped Danvers and held her hostage. He showered her with affection until she fell in love with him. That’s a problematic enough situation on its own, but Marcus also revealed to the Avengers that he gave Danvers “a subtle boost” from his father’s mind-control machinery. Essentially, he had brainwashed her into falling in love with him – and the Avengers, having heard this, let her go anyway believing it was what she wanted.
Note that this wasn’t an intentional part of the story – it was a product of misjudged writing. At the time, comics historian Carol A. Strickland wrote a famous piece of comics criticism, “The Rape of Ms. Marvel” (originally published in the fanzine, LoC #1) in which she highlighted the poor treatment of the character and women in comics generally.
Strickland believed the essay would amount to little, but whether by design or coincidence, Chris Claremont (who had previously written Danvers in her solo title) read the essay. He responded by writing Avengers Annual #10, in which Spider-Woman rescues a woman only to find that it’s Carol Danvers, initially amnesiac and powerless, and no longer wanting anything to do with the Avengers.
In the story, Danvers – having recovered her memory with the help of Professor X – faces the Avengers and articulates her feelings of anger and betrayal that they let her leave with Marcus. She then remains with the X-Men to continue her recuperation and unofficially joins the team. It’s a great story that does its best to correct a terrible injustice done to the character. Certainly worth reading with the added context of the above.
So what does that have to do with the MCU? Clearly, no one wants to see the mistakes of this storyline repeated, and the MCU isn’t likely to do any version of it. But it does at least show how the worlds of the X-Men and the Avengers can intersect around Carol Danvers.
For example, Avengers Annual #10 reveals that Rogue, a mutant with the ability to absorb the memories and powers of anyone she touches, is the reason Danvers has lost her memory. Rogue’s adoptive mother Mystique (who also appears in the story) was already one of Danvers’ arch-nemeses and responsible for the death of Danvers’ boyfriend. Mystique may be most closely associated with the X-Men, but she actually first appeared in Ms. Marvel #16 (1978) as a shape-shifting infiltrator.
This, then, is how Danvers could introduce the X-Men to the MCU. A future solo film could introduce Mystique and Rogue as antagonists – they are, thanks to their involvement in the Fox X-Men franchise, both well-known members of the X-Men mythos who would excite viewers.
A Captain Marvel sequel will almost certainly be due around the same time Marvel Studios will be ready to start weaving the X-Men into the MCU (if indeed that is Marvel’s intention!), so introducing them in the context of Captain Marvel would be an easy way to draw on the comics and give the hero some foes she can’t necessarily simply incinerate.
In addition to this, it would allow Rogue to have her comic-book origin as a villain-turned-hero, which wasn’t explored in the Fox series. It would also allow Mystique to have her place as a villain without tying her to the increasingly bizarre baggage of the Fox movies. Crucially, it would establish mutants in the MCU as people who interact with superheroes outside of mutant affairs.
Best of all, it would give the incoming X-Men an organic reason to start interacting with the Avengers without immediately teaming up. In the comics, Rogue joins the X-Men to get help with problems resulting from her theft of Carol’s memories and powers. Xavier, unwilling to turn away a mutant in need – especially one who could be a villain if left unguided – takes her in. But this makes Carol angry and could give the Avengers a reason to distrust the X-Men. The mutants would, after all, be harboring someone who attacked one of their own.
This is all speculation, of course, but it’s speculation tied to the comics-fidelity of the MCU so far. Marvel Studios might do something completely different – but the fact that Danvers, Mystique, and Rogue are so closely tied together means there might just be something in it…