Even diehard X-Men fans have to admit that Fox’s mutant-filled franchise was not in the best of shape when it was finally put out of its misery upon Disney’s buyout of the company. On the other hand, despite Dark Phoenix and the loss of Hugh Jackman after Logan, Fox still had a ton of projects in the works that they clearly hoped would fuel the X-Men universe for another decade or so.
Obviously, however, none of these projects ever came to pass once Fox was swallowed up by the Mouse House and Marvel Studios took command of the Children of the Atom. But for a moment, let’s wonder what could’ve been and take a look at every X-Men movie that never happened, including those that died long before Disney ever entered the chat.
Deadpool 2 made no secret of the fact it was setting up an X-Force movie, but unfortunately, all this franchise set-up came to nothing once Disney assumed control of the Merc with the Mouth. Of course, Ryan Reynolds will be back for Deadpool 3 in 2024, but it’s currently unclear if Josh Brolin’s Cable and Zazie Beetz’s Domino will return alongside him and Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine.
Whatever your feelings about the necessity of a Gambit solo movie, you have to feel a little sorry for Channing Tatum over the failure of his passion project to get off the ground. After years stuck in development hell, this superhero heist romcom was finally going places, until Disney canceled the project permanently just months ahead of its planned start date.
The New Mutants 2 and 3
The New Mutants once looked like a very promising YA/horror take on the X-Men universe, but it ultimately sunk without a trace upon its release in 2020. Originally, director Josh Boone had a full trilogy planned for the teen team. Antonia Banderas would’ve played Sunspot’s father in the sequel, with new members including Warlock and Karma. Not to mention Jon Hamm would’ve turned up as Mr. Sinister.
As with Gambit, Kitty Pryde was another popular character Fox was looking to build a movie around. Deadpool‘s Tim Miller was attached to direct, with comic book maestro Brian Michael Bendis working on the script. Hailee Steinfeld was the internet’s preferred option to play the adolescent mutant at the time, although she ended up joining the MCU as Hawkeye‘s Kate Bishop.
Logan was such a huge hit for Fox that it’s no surprise they were looking to follow it up with an X-23 film, following what happened to Wolvie’s clone daughter Laura Kinney (Dafne Keen) next. Logan helmer James Mangold would’ve returned to helm the picture. Honestly, with Jackman back in Deadpool 3, it feels like the door is still open on more from Keen’s character in the MCU.
Remember when James Franco nearly starred as Multiple Man in his own movie? No, well, that was a thing. The Spider-Man trilogy actor was all set to play Jamie Maddox, the mutant private eye who can replicate himself, in a film written by Wonder Woman and The Sandman‘s Allan Heinberg. This one seemed to be on the fast track, too, before the whole Disney situation happened.
In 2017, X-Men producer Simon Kinberg confirmed that an Alpha Flight movie was likewise in early development. For those not aware, Alpha Flight is Canada’s premier superhero team in the Marvel universe, with Wolverine sometimes counted among their number. It’s now up to Marvel to decide whether they have any room for the group in their plans.
At the same time as the Alpha Flight announcement, Kinberg revealed that Exiles was another concept that was being developed. In the comics, the ever-changing Exiles team is made up of heroes who have been removed from their proper universes and divergent timelines due to temporal “hiccups.” Honestly, this project would be much more at home in the MCU. Get on it now, Kevin Feige.
Fear the Beast
Here’s one that had mostly flown under the radar until very recently. Nicolas Hoult might’ve gotten the chance to star in his own movie as Hank McCoy in Fear the Beast. The full script for the project, as written by Byron Burton and based on a story by Burton and X-Men veteran John Ottman, leaked online this December, allowing fans a glimpse at a spinoff we didn’t know we needed.
Other canceled projects
X-Men 4 and 5
After The Last Stand concluded the original trilogy, naturally Fox’s first approach to finding ways to continue the X-Men franchise was to simply make more movies with the same cast. Producer Lauren Shuler Donner initially pitched X4 and X5 to director Bryan Singer, with the idea being that the fourth film would lead directly into the fifth, much like X2 and TLS.
X-Men Origins: Magneto
Of course, this didn’t end up happening and Fox instead pivoted to prequels. After Origins: Wolverine, the next port of call was going to be a prequel based around Magneto, with Ian McKellen due to reprise his role for a framing narrative that would’ve revealed Erik Lensherr’s past. Once this one was canceled, these concepts were instead reworked into First Class.
Before First Class happened, though, Fox also had the pretty forward-thinking idea of creating a mega-crossover of all the Marvel characters they had the rights to. The event movie would’ve borrowed from the Civil War storyline, long before Captain America 3 was a glint in Marvel’s eye, with the various heroes battling it out over the Superhuman Registration Act.
X-Men: First Class 2
Matthew Vaughn’s initial pitch to Fox was to have First Class begin a trilogy that would conclude with Days of Future Past. However, the studio got so excited over Days they fast-tracked it, causing Vaughn to walk away. He’s since revealed that his First Class sequel would’ve continued the 1960s setting and possibly introduced a new Wolverine, perhaps played by Tom Hardy.
In the run-up to 2015’s Fantastic Four, Fox was keen to capitalize on the First Family by devising a crossover movie with the X-Men. Unfortunately, Josh Trank’s reboot stunk up cinemas so bad this one never got very far along, dooming the studio’s second attempt to bring the two properties together. Something tells us Marvel might manage to make this a reality in the near future.