Following the juggernaut films that were Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios could have gone in any direction. At that point, the amount of goodwill they’d built up as a result of their previous work was at an all-time high. They were also closing a deal with Fox to buy the rights back to their most bankable properties prior to the MCU in X-Men and the Fantastic Four. Given the fact that they could have gone in any direction they wanted, why did Marvel choose to sit on their two biggest properties and instead focus on lesser known cosmic characters and a Multiverse? It’s a fair question and one a few people had asked prior to seeing Marvel’s full slate of events. But even after seeing it, one could still look at their plans and ask why mutants aren’t getting the nod and Marvel’s First Family is only batting clean up in Phase 6 right before the Avengers films close the story out.
The answer to the question is probably more complex than we have time to discuss here today, but I would be willing to stake my invisible shekels and doubloons on a few different factors playing a strong role in their decision to wait. I think the biggest factor at play here is the simplest one and that’s the fact that there is no rush. Marvel has all the time in the world to play around with different scenarios before launching the mutants. Everyone and their brother knows that the inclusion of the mutants is going to be Marvel’s most scrutinized event since the time-traveling events of Infinity War and Endgame.
Before we go any further, I want to stress a fact that I believe to be true and I’ll couch it within a really neat fact. They have this really cool piece of tech at Cornell University called a tunneling electron microscope. This badass is so damn powerful that you can actually get visible and clear images of honest to god atoms. That’s right, it can take a picture of atoms, which are impossibly small and the very foundation upon which our universe was built. Even if someone were to use that microscope to analyze the upcoming Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars, it still wouldn’t be as potent as the level of fan analysis that will be done on Marvel’s ultimate decision of how to place the X-Men within the larger content of the MCU.
Fans of Frasier will appreciate that last paragraph, but it remains true. That’s why Marvel is in no rush and actually benefits from taking time to make sure their inclusion is done well and lives up to what fans ultimately hope to see from the venerated comic film studio. In some ways, it’s probably much less stressful to develop that property under those circumstances and that’s also likely to be the reason the First Family doesn’t appear until the very end of the Multiverse Saga. Marvel understands the importance, but is clearly dedicated to the idea of getting it right before getting it out. Given the disasters we’ve seen with this franchise in the past, thank Galactus this is the mindset.
Given that the Celestials and the Eternals seem to also be part of their plans if we look at Marvel’s trademarks in the film department, it would seem likely that these Marvel “Gods” will play some role in the inclusion of mutants. If nothing else, Marvel fully intends to explore their powers after they explore the Multiverse and probability alone would suggest mutants would be wrapped up in that as one cannot imagine Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige sitting on the X-Men for not just one full saga, but two. That would be about 10-15 years before we saw them and that would be financially idiotic. It’s really not even worth mentioning because it’s so ludicrous but it helps frame their inclusion within the context of the Celestials, so I mentioned it anyhow.
But why the Multiverse when they have so much other stuff they could do? It’s pretty simple. If we’re to assume that the smaller version of notable events we’ve seen in the MCU are their official inclusion and there’s no reason to think they aren’t, then Secret Wars is the most bankable story they have after events like Civil War, Kree/Skrull War, Kate Bishop, and the upcoming Wakandan and Atlantean throwdown. It was literally created to sell toys and be mass marketed. Somehow it also became a beloved story despite only being created to chase after marketing dollars and the aforementioned toys. But the story is super badass because it’s a contest of superheroes and supervillains having to both work with each other and fight one another for a prize. It’s basically a superpowered tournament and who doesn’t love those?
The Multiverse is also a critical tool when setting the stage for an entire race of people that somehow seemed to go unnoticed or undiagnosed by the superhero community. Having a story-telling mechanism that allows you to introduce an entirely different and new world of superheroes who get their powers in a slightly different way seems pretty important to the end goal, no? Beyond that it allows Marvel to travel anywhere and introduce almost anything, but all without the power of some goofy stones. It was also teased throughout the end of Phase 3 and finally given to use in Phase 4. That means it’s not some last minute device they came up with because they didn’t have other stuff to use. This path always led here and for good reason.
I’ve always loved the concept of the Multiverse and without it, fans were never going to get that beloved Spider-Man story. It’s also central to most of the important stories Marvel tries to tell. It’s also the most comic thing in the world and one of the reasons we buy these stories. We want to see/read stories of our heroes/villains facing entirely different versions of the people they’re used to dealing with on a regular basis. It adds that extra flair that only comics can give us on the scale that we crave.
I guess a metal-clawed man with anger issues is cool, but I think the Multiverse is cooler. It gives Marvel more leeway to tell different stories than the narrowly focused mutants would allow. This isn’t to say that stories involving mutants aren’t compelling, they’re some of the most compelling, it’s just that the Multiverse allows for a greater range of storytelling across a much wider spectrum and it also allows for the very quick inclusion of mutants as opposed to having their story drag out over an entire saga to find a way to include them. Whichever you prefer, you’re ultimately going to be getting both at the end of the day so it’s not even a situation where you have to choose between them.