For years the Xmen stories have floundered. Xmen titles have become synonymous with mediocrity. Within the past several years we have seen an Xmen vs Avengers arc that theoretically should have been awesome. Instead, it was simply ok. We have witnessed old, time displaced characters reintroduced when (minus Jean Grey) their current versions were available for use. We have witnessed Cyclops become a neo-magneto, and magneto flip-flop from villain to Xman again and again. We have seen the Xmen attempt a utopian society off the coast of San Francisco only to ultimately to have the house divided in Schism.
Now Marvel has taken two new and very different approaches to the future of their Xmen line-up. Marvel has announced that Xmen 92 will become an on-going series after the events of Secret Wars concludes. Also revealed recently, was the confirmation of a rumor that had been swirling the web for months. After Secret Wars, the Xmen will be facing another species threatening catastrophe. The Terrigen mists are not only killing mutants, but sterilizing them as well.
It seems as though half the internet is searching for a conspiracy theory. Many seem to believe that somehow Marvel has concocted this plot to sabotage Fox and the Marvel properties they own. While I do not doubt a Marvel executive somewhere chuckled every time he read a negative Fantastic Four review, I seriously doubt everything involves backdoor politicking. Could this be feasible, sure but it is highly improbable.
Let’s examine the facts. Truth is Xmen is one of the biggest franchises in Marvel publishing history. It is a cash cow movie property that, regardless of any new developments or storylines in the comics, has enough source material for decades of films. Damaging the Xmen line of comics now does nothing to deter the already established Xmen movie fanbase. Furthermore, Marvel also receives a cut of the profit from any revenue generated from their licensed properties. So logically while they are spitting out two films a year, studios like Fox and Sony are further coating Marvel’s pockets with their own usage of their properties.
The truth is all signs point to the Inhumans replacing the Xmen in the Marvel Universe. Sure, Inhumans do seem to be the focus of Marvel heading into the future. They are investing a lot of energy in developing Inhuman characters because that is a franchise similar to the Xmen that Marvel owns all rights too. Therefore, Marvel could reap all the benefits from the Inhumans properties. It’s logical to promote a brand that you can fully exploit.
However, that doesn’t mean Marvel does not have a plan for the Xmen? It’s believed that Marvel is using the terrigen mists to usher in the Xmen’s demise. Just like the Legacy Virus would end the mutants. Just like Scarlet Witch ushering in the era of decimation would end the mutants.
The Xmen have faced species endangering threats before. Marvel has never completely rid themselves of the Xmen franchise. Actually, if the conspiracy were true, why are former Xmen appearing in prominent roles in the All New All Different Marvel Universe? Shadowcat is in a romantic relationship with one of Marvel’s rising properties in Starlord. Why would Marvel allow Sunspot to take a significant role with the New Avengers line-up? Both of those characters movie rights are owned by Fox, Marvel can’t use them in any movies.
The truth is, Xmen has been mediocre for a while. Why? The Xmen titles have lost their way. Xmen as a franchise no longer has a strategic creative direction. Could this be due to the fact that Xmen aren’t a movie franchise at Marvel’s disposure? Maybe there is some possibility of that being true. However, a lack of focus does not prove an intentional attempt to denigrate and tarnish the franchise, thus weakening its profitability. That’s just not good business. And one thing we have learned about Marvel and parent company Disney these past few years, they are all about good business.
Xmen fans, the truth is the Xmen have gotten too large. The mutant population has outgrown the Xmen’s initial mission. Through the years, that core theme has never changed, yet the team continues to evolve. Mutant nations were formed, utopia’s of varies types were created, the Xmen have even integrated into the avengers in a sense, with the unity team Uncanny Avengers.
Now Marvel is taking the franchise in two unique directions. Xmen 92 is in essence pressing the reset button on the Xmen and returning them to a golden age era. Will segregating the Xmen franchise into its own separate universe solve the issue at hand? It might appease the fans. It’s not an altogether bad idea. The Xmen are not special in a world with half a dozen Avengers teams and a growing influence of Inhumans. So in Xmen 92, Xmen can return to a small group of individuals trying to save a world that hates and fears them.
Extraordinary Xmen will usher in an era in which the Terrigen Mists are both sterilizing and killing the mutant species. Mutants around the world are dying and government organizations and civil groups alike are pouncing on the opportunity to kick them while they’re down. Marvel has used a plotline similar to this as recently as decimation nearly a decade ago. The question is, will any of it matter this time. Sure the Xmen will find a way through the danger, that’s part of the thrill. However, will there be any lasting consequences?
The truth is there are too many mutants and too many Xmen. It’s time to cull the herd. Both of these announcements seem to hint at Marvel taking this direction. Most of the mutants we know and love need to go, new and old. The Xmen were always better as a small strike team that encountered threats. There seems to be a need to return the status quo. I believe Marvel recognizes this need. So the Terrigen Mists could be a means to an end.
Truth is sometimes less is more. A purge of the franchise that has for too long been left to its own whims is in order. I am saddened to realize that a lot of our favorite Xmen characters may need to bite it, but the truth is…it’s time for them to go. Only then can the franchise return to saving a world that hates and fears them. The truth is, the state of the Xmen is in need of a purge.