Although many have celebrated the news that the Fantastic Four and the X-Men will be integrated into Marvel Studios' much coveted cinematic universe following Disney's recent acquisition of Twenty-First Century Fox, the repatriation of Marvel Comics' mutants into the same shared universe as their leading heroes does cause a slight conflict of interests, both narratively and commercially. Over the past decade, Marvel Studios has raised the public profile of characters such as Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Captain America and other less widely known superheroes and successfully brought them together to form the MCU's super army; the Avengers. However, for almost two decades Fox has done the same for Marvel Comics' leading team of wayward mutants; the X-Men. While in the X-Men movie universe, Professor X's student and tutor superhero team have only faced other antagonistic mutants such as Magneto, Dark Phoenix, and Apocalypse, fans of the X-Men comic book source material or the five-season TV series will be aware that the Charles Xavier's school for the gifted have also faced many non-mutant and even extra-terrestrial adversaries such as the Sentinels and the Shi'ar Empire.
As such the MCU is left with a dilemma - with the X-Men soon to be integrated into the MCU alongside the Avengers, does Marvel Studios really need two superhero forces tasked with defending the Earth? Can Marvel Studios really justify an increase in world ending confrontations in a cinematic universe where the Earth has already been threatened by the Chitauri, Dark Elves, Loki, Ultron, Red Skull, Hydra, and Dormammu? While it is highly possible and likely that Kevin Feige and his creative team at Marvel studios could very well just reboot the X-Men and associated characters, introducing them through starring and guest roles on both the big and small screens, the success of movies such as Deadpool, and Logan, and the recent TV serial The Punisher could see Fox push the X-Men movie universe towards a more mature audience.
Recently when Fox announced that one of this years three planned X-Men movies would be delayed until February 22nd, 2019 industry commentators least expected it to be The New Mutants. Of the three aforementioned movies, which also included X-Men: Dark Phoenix and Deadpool 2, The New Mutants was to be the first released on April 13th, 2018, with Deadpool 2 following May 18th, and Dark Phoenix November 2nd. With Dark Phoenix being a sequel to 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse and Deadpool 2 the sequel to 2016's successful r-rated Deadpool, some are speculating that The New Mutants has been delayed to allow for reshoots to further emphasize the inferred horror elements of the movie's narrative. With the departure of Hugh Jackman from the X-Men movie franchise and the original cast having already paved the way for their younger incarnations, many fans and industry watchdogs are expecting to see the X-Men rebooted now that they will be introduced into the MCU. Following the huge critical and commercial success of Deadpool and Logan, it seems that studio Fox may be suggesting to Disney that such a reboot of the X-Men movie franchise should be r-rated.
With the inclusion of other r-rated Marvel Studios properties such as Venom, Punisher, and rumors of an MCU inclusive reboot of Blade, the X-Men and Deadpool could help Marvel Studios add more diversity, creativity, and social commentary into their multi-billion dollar cinematic universe simply by widening the franchise's audience beyond that of young audiences, possibly using the moniker Marvel Knights for such r-rated content. Should Fox's plan work and Marvel Studios successfully embrace r-rated comic book movies within its shared universe, we could potentially see other franchises widen their target audience with r-rated installments. Could we see a Star Wars movie depicting the darker side of everyone's favorite galaxy far, far away such as an r-rated Boba Fett movie or r-rated Sith TV serial? Could we see a Street Fighter vs Mortal Kombat, with fatalities? Could we see a darker addition to the Harry Potter-verse?