MCU’s ‘X-Men’ Takes Major Step Forward (And Two Steps Back)

in Marvel, Movies

A close-up image of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and intense expression, wearing a yellow and black suit, seemingly viewed from a low angle in "Deadpool 3.

Credit: Marvel Studios

If there’s one addition the Marvel Cinematic Universe needs to include, it’s Charles Xavier’s band of mutants uniting together to fight the forces of evil. As the X-Men began to take shape in the MCU franchise, the project finally found its scriptwriter, but it might also have been doomed from the start.

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

Given the success X-Men ’97 has had on Disney+, it makes sense that a proper live-action adaptation needs to be next on the docket. The last time we heard from the franchise was The New Mutants (2020), a sci-fi horror film that had no connection to the MCU. The time for Wolverine, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and Storm to join one of Disney’s most prominent series is long overdue, but will the most recent development throw a wrench in their plans?

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It was recently revealed that Michael Lesslie has signed on to pen the script for Marvel Studios’ new X-Men film. While most might be thrilled that the team is finally making its MCU debut, that news comes with a heavy caveat when looking back at Lesslie’s career.

Michael Lesslie’s X-Men

A well-dressed person stands in front of an X-Men logo, which features bold yellow lettering outlined in red against a black background. The individual, possibly hinting at a major step forward for the MCU, appears to be in formal attire, including a dark suit and tie.
Credit: Inside the Magic

The official report from Deadline made the following announcement,

“Following the success of its animated series X-Men ’97, Marvel Studios is now ramping things up on its live-action X-Men movie with Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes scribe Michael Lesslie in negotiations to pen the movie. The film is still in early development with no talent or director attached and no release date set. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige will produce.”

There’s no denying that Lesslie has some notable film credentials under his belt, but whether he’s the right voice to bring the X-Men to life is highly debatable. While he might have adapted epic stories like Macbeth (2015) and Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes (2023) with Rachel Zegler, which garnered much publicity, his history with over-the-top sci-fi movies hasn’t been great.

Related: New ‘X-Men’ Movie Reportedly Replacing Magneto as Main Villain

Lesslie might have cut his teeth on dramas, but anything involving the X-Men needs more than that to represent the source material correctly. His Hunger Games prequel might have gotten some attention, but one only has to look to his disastrous Assassin’s Creed (2016) adaptation to get a decent understanding. With a Rotten Tomatoes consensus review that describes it as a “joyless, over-plotted slog,” is this truly the person fans want representing one of the most poignant and popular series in Marvel Comics?

Will Lesslie Lessen the Message?

The cast of X2 walking toward camera
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Even without the star power of actors like Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Sir Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier, or even Ryan Reynolds as the dangerous and delirious Deadpool, the X-Men and their stories are still some of the most powerful narratives in Marvel. Whether it’s God Loves, Man Kills or the Dark Phoenix saga, any new adaptation needs to have that emotional, character-driven weight to back it up.

Related: Report: Marvel’s New MCU Avengers Cast Revealed

If the X-Men are truly coming to the MCU, as the report states, their script needs to be nothing less than Shakespearean (which might be why Lesslie was picked). However, it must also have the trimmings and trappings of a large, colorful, classic comic-book action movie. Given what we know about the writer’s filmography, that might be something he struggles with.

Granted, this writer is more than willing to admit it’s unfair to assume the quality of a product still in development. Still, anyone who pens a script about Marvel’s mutants needs to have an intensely thorough understanding of what makes them such icons. In short, this needs to be more personal than The Hunger Games.

Are the X-Men already in jeopardy? Tell Inside the Magic what you think in the comments below!

in Marvel, Movies

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