Disney Scores New Hit MCU Series, ‘X-Men’ Falls behind as ‘Deadpool and Wolverine’ Looms

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Credit: Disney Plus

The ongoing animated revival series, X-Men ’97, may be critically acclaimed, but it is lagging far behind a hit Marvel Cinematic Universe just as Disney pins all its hopes on another mutant-related project, Deadpool and Wolverine.

Wolverine and Deadpool stand in the middle of a deserted street, dressed in their superhero costumes, with a damaged pharmacy and debris in the background.
Credit: Marvel Studios

It is fair to say that the MCU is at something of a crossroads. After nearly two decades of unprecedented success, Marvel Studios faces dwindling box office grosses, increasing viewer disinterest in its Disney+ series, and a pervading sense of “superhero fatigue” that exists whether Disney CEO Bob Iger wants it to or not.

After the high-profile failure of The Marvels (2023), Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige and Bob Iger have decided to pull back and regroup. According to the Disney CEO, multiple MCU projects have been canceled, and the upcoming theatrical release schedule has been winnowed down to only “one or two” movies a year.

Related: Marvel Officially Bans Deadpool, Now-Removed Star Speaks Out

The most immediate and prominent of those is Deadpool and Wolverine, which will team up the titular duo (Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman) in a Multiversal adventure that is expected to result in the introduction of the X-Men to the MCU proper.

Marvel has a lot riding on the idea that the world’s greatest team of mutant superheroes will give it the boost it needs, but some troubling data from the Disney+ streaming service is not a great sign.

All of the X-Men in casual clothing in X-Men '97
Credit: Marvel Studios

According to a Variety report, the X-Men ’97 series is lagging far behind other Disney+ shows in 2024 viewership, indicating that the desire for mutant-related content might not be as strong as Marvel hopes. X-Men ’97 has actually been defeated by Echo, the mildly well-received series starring Alaqua Cox; Echo has 11.8% of total Disney+ streaming hours, nearly double X-Men ’97‘s 6.8%.

Significantly, both Marvel series were trounced by Percy Jackson and the Olympians at 23.3%

Alaqua Cox as Echo/Maya Lopez in 'Hawkeye' with her hand held up
Credit: Marvel Studios

That says that, while the animated series may have a serious nostalgia draw for diehards, it is not the outright hit that the studio wants. X-Men ’97 is being rapturously received by critics and holds a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it turns out that critical acclaim is not actually the same thing as widespread popularity.

This is a serious problem for Deadpool and Wolverine, which is essentially a high-powered nostalgia machine for the 20th Century Fox X-Men movie franchise. It relies almost solely on the draw of seeing Hugh Jackman back as Logan alongside Ryan Reynolds as the Merc with the Mouth.

Related: ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ Director Dismisses MCU, Ignores Canon

Deadpool holding a small, suited creature, standing next to Wolverine, with a serious expression, in a gloomy urban setting from Deadpool 3.
Credit: Marvel Studios

Deadpool and Wolverine will see the title characters being enlisted by the Time Variance Authority and tasked with stopping some Multiversal danger, which appears to be Cassandra Nova (Emma Corrin), the twin sister of Professor Charles Xavier.

In the Deadpool and Wolverine trailer, we see various minor characters from the X-Men franchise, such as Aaron Stanford reprising Pyro from X2 (2003) and Jason Flemyng as Azazel from X-Men: First Class (2011); it is expected many more cameos are involved, further pushing the nostalgia aspect of the movie.

The film, which is directed by Shawn Levy from a screenplay he co-wrote with Ryan Reynolds, Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Zeb Wells, is being promoted as the “savior” of the MCU both as a meta-joke in dialogue and in real life.

But so much of the film depends on people being excited by their memories of X-Men projects in the past, and considering X-Men ’97 is being crushed by Echo and Percy Jackson, things could go sour for mutantkind.

Cyclops and Jean Grey in X-Men '97
Credit: Marvel Studios

Do you think X-Men nostalgia is enough to make Deadpool and Wolverine a hit? Tell us in the comments below!

Deadpool & Wolverine stars Ryan Reynolds, Hugh Jackman, Emma Corrin, Morena Baccarin, Rob Delaney, Leslie Uggams, Karan Soni, and Matthew Macfadyen. It is scheduled for release in American theaters on June 26

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