Yesterday, Fox confirmed it had ordered the pilot for a new live-action X-Men series. Unlike Legion, FX’s mutant-centric show set to debut in two weeks, this one would acknowledge the events of what’s happened in 20th Century Fox’s film franchise.
Showrunner Matt Nix (best known for Burn Notice), talked about how the show would fit into the universe already set up by the films, which go back to 2000. Nix recognized that considering the X-Men films themselves didn’t follow a specific chronological timeline, he didn’t feel pressured to strictly follow what’s been happening in that universe.
“If you like the world of the movies, there are definite nods to it,” Nix said, as reported by IGN. “It definitely exists in the same general kind of universe, if that makes sense. I guess I’d say in a sort of general way it acknowledges that events like the events that have happened in the movies have happened, you know what I mean?
“But it’s not to date, it’s still evolving. We’ll see how much that comes in. It’s certainly not ‘Since this happened in X-Men Apocalypse now all of these things are happening!’”
Nix said that the show is specifically designed to avoid questions like “What’s going on with Wolverine,” which the showrunner added he’ll leave to X-Men feature film directors. The show will be able to stand completely on its own without the aid of overarching stories existing off-screen.
With all of this speculation, and little information about what the show will be about aside from following a family with mutant children on the run from an oppressive government, it’s hard to understand just how the new X-Men series will co-exist with the films.
Based on what Nix has said, it feels like the series will follow the same formula Marvel and ABC’s Agents of SHIELD has worked with since it debuted. Although there were early appearances from Marvel Cinematic Universe actors, like Samuel L. Jackson in the show’s second episode, for the most part the characters were able to stand on their own. Major superheroes from the MCU like Thor and Iron Man, although mentioned, never actually appear.
Instead of trying to tie every episode into the film franchise, the show’s writers simply acknowledge what’s happening and move on. Nix is looking to do something similar with his X-Men project. While there might be a mention of Wolverine or Cyclops, the series won’t be about trying to meet up with any big name mutants.
Part of that, of course, may have to do with the rights issues that still exist between Marvel and Fox. Although Fox owns the rights to all the X-Men characters, and anyone who identifies as a mutant — remember the Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch drama in Avengers: Age of Ultron? — Marvel still needs to sign off on any television production. Fox could potentially include X-Men characters on the show, but Marvel would have to agree to it, and there’s a possibility that the company would not.
Like everything superhero related, the endless headache that comes with trying to figure out who owns the right to which characters on what platform could all end by working together. There was some hope that Marvel and Fox’s cinematic empires would find a way to work together, much like Marvel and Sony did for Spider-Man, but Marvel Entertainment CEO Kevin Feige has said multiple times that’s a long ways off.
For now, Marvel and Fox will have to co-exist on the small screen. FX’s Legion premieres on Feb. 8. Fox’s untitled X-Men series does not currently have a premiere date.