10 Lessons The MCU Needs To Learn From Fox’s 10 Top Rated X-Men Releases

  • Marvel Studios can learn a lot from 20th Century Fox's top ten highest-rated X-Men franchise movies and TV shows.
  • Deadpool and Wolverine are heavily featured in Fox's highest-rated X-Men projects, raising excitement for the MCU's Deadpool & Wolverine.
  • Marvel Studios' X-Men projects should include origin stories, lesser-known mutants, and should take place in both movies and TV shows.
20th Century Fox's X-Men franchise may have delivered some disappointments over the years, but many of its movies and TV shows were highly-rated, so Marvel Studios can learn some valuable lessons when developing its own X-Men projects in the MCU. Fox's X-Men franchise kicked off in 2000 with the release of X-Men, introducing the likes of Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Hugh Jackman, and Famke Janssen as some of Marvel Comics' most iconic mutant heroes and villains. In the following two decades, the X-Men franchise spawned twelve additional feature films and two TV shows before concluding with 2020's The New Mutants.
Fox's X-Men franchise unfortunately delivered some lackluster projects, with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Dark Phoenix, and The New Mutants failing to garner a positive reception. However, many installments of the two-decade-long X-Men franchise were actually very successful and well-received, achieving high scores on Rotten Tomatoes, and contributing to the entire franchise grossing well over $6 billion at the global box office between 2000 and 2020. Despite being a franchise of highs and lows, Marvel Studios can learn some valuable lessons from the highest-rated projects in 20th Century Fox's X-Men franchise, particularly since the MCU's official X-Men reboot is now in production.
Top 10 Highest-Rated 20th Century Fox X-Men Projects
Critics Score
Audience Score
X-Men: Days of Future Past
X-Men: First Class
Deadpool 2
The Gifted
The Wolverine
2:05 Related MCU X-Men Movie Gets First Update In 8 Months Marvel Studios" upcoming X-Men movie reboot takes a step forward as the Marvel Cinematic Universe project finally lands a writer for the film.
10 Deadpool Is The Perfect Character To Introduce The X-Men To The MCU Both Of Deadpool's Solo Adventures Were Hugely Successful Close Ryan Reynolds will bridge the gap between the Fox X-Men franchise and the MCU in 2024's upcoming Deadpool & Wolverine, and the highest-rated X-Men projects prove that he is the best person for the job. Both of Deadpool's solo adventures in Fox's X-Men franchise are highly-rated, and the character is widely regarded as one of the strongest aspects of the franchise, despite being mostly disconnected from the wider world of the X-Men. Deadpool and Deadpool 2 performed very well for Fox, and this will likely be repeated in the MCU.
Not just repeated, but Marvel Studios' Deadpool & Wolverine is expected to surpass the success of its predecessors. This is perhaps thanks to the entertaining partnership between Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman, both on and off camera. Two of the biggest stars in Hollywood being involved in the same project is a massive draw for Marvel Studios and the MCU.
Your browser does not support the video tag. Related The MCU's Next $1B Movie Box Office Success Just Got A Lot More Likely Deadpool & Wolverine is the strongest candidate to pass the $1 billion mark for the MCU in years, and a new broken record makes that even more likely.
9 Wolverine Should Still Be A Key Part Of The MCU’s X-Men Storylines Wolverine Appeared In Most Of Fox's Highest-Rated Projects While Hugh Jackman will be returning as James "Logan" Howlett's Wolverine in Deadpool & Wolverine, Marvel Studios is expected to recast the clawed mutant for the MCU's official X-Men team. This will see a new actor take over from Jackman, and could sideline the character after years of being the focus in Fox's X-Men franchise, but this may be a mistake. Six of Fox's top ten highest-rated X-Men projects feature Wolverine, and 2017's Logan is top of the list, so audiences certainly love the legendary X-Men member.
Wolverine being so popular in Fox's X-Men franchise means Marvel Studios should give him an ample amount of attention in the MCU's X-Men reboot. Of course, this doesn't mean Wolverine needs to be a leading man again, as Marvel Animation's X-Men '97 proved, but he must get some substantial moments. Wolverine is still a very exciting character that deserves exploration in the MCU.
Related X-Men: 20 Actors Who Could Play The MCU's Wolverine Keanu Reeves? Jason Momoa? Tom Hardy? There are plenty of actors that could play the role of Wolverine admirably, so let"s check them out.
8 X-Men TV Shows Work Well To Accompany The Movies Both Of Fox's X-Men TV Shows Are Highly-Rated 20th Century Fox produced only two TV shows to accompany the X-Men film series: The Gifted and Legion, both of which premiered in 2017. Both of these shows are among the top ten highest-rated projects in Fox's X-Men franchise, proving that Marvel Studios should also develop X-Men-focused TV shows alongside its upcoming feature films. With the recent rebranding of Marvel Television, this is more likely than ever, so the MCU's world of X-Men is surely about to expand massively.
Legion focused on Professor X's son from an alternate timeline, while The Gifted is set in the same world as the X-Men movies, but the shows didn't connect to the films or to each other at all. This will likely be different in the MCU, as Marvel Television's shows connect directly to the MCU's feature films, establishing a more clear shared universe that will work well to develop the X-Men's storylines.
No MCU-set X-Men TV shows for Disney+ have yet been announced.
7 Marvel Studios Needs To Adapt The X-Men’s Biggest Stories Days Of Future Past & Old Man Logan Are Just A Couple Massive Stories Fox Adapted Now that Marvel Studios has the film rights to mutants and the X-Men, any number of iconic Marvel Comics storylines could be adapted into the live-action MCU. Fox's highest-rated X-Men projects could hint at which storylines viewers may want the most, as the likes of 1981's Days of Future Past, 2008's Old Man Logan and 1982's God Loves, Man Kills all formed the inspiration behind some of the franchise's most successful movies. As well as suggesting stories that Marvel Studios should re-adapt, this list also omits one the MCU should avoid.
20th Century Fox made two major attempts at bringing Marvel Comics' Dark Phoenix Saga into live-action, first led by Famke Janssen's Jean Grey, and later by Sophie Turner's. Both of these attempts were disappointing, and were poorly-rated, suggesting Marvel Studios may be better off avoiding the Dark Phoenix Saga in the MCU, at least for the time being, anyway.
20th Century Fox's Dark Phoenix Saga Attempts
Critics Score
Audience Score
X-Men: The Last Stand
Dark Phoenix
Related Marvel Has Adapted The Best X-Men Story 4 Times, But Which Is Best? The X-Men’s Dark Phoenix Saga is one of the greatest comic book stories of all time. While some adaptations have done it justice, others have not.
6 MCU’s X-Men Should Be More Experimental Several High-Rated X-Men Projects Experimented With Genre & Story Close Several projects among the top ten highest-rated in Fox's X-Men franchise experimented with genre, storytelling, character, and style, so Marvel Studios shouldn't be afraid to be a bit wild with its upcoming X-Men projects. By their very nature, mutants and the X-Men are fantastical, sometimes-ridiculous characters, so this should perhaps be reflected in the style in which they're delivered in the MCU. Marvel Studios has recently been experimenting more, so this could continue in the MCU's future.
While Deadpool delivered an outright comedy, and Logan took on more of an indie feel, Fox's TV shows set adjacent to the X-Men movies also played with different story elements. The Gifted, at its core, was a coming-of-age story focused on Lauren and Adam Strucker, while Legion entered a more psychological and supernatural realm, which was incredibly effective at delivering its narrative, and made it the second-highest-rated X-Men project, just falling behind Logan.
Related 10 Explanations The MCU Could Use For Why The X-Men Are Appearing So Late The MCU has finally moved into Phase 5, but there is no sign of the X-Men. However, there are possible explanations for why they"re arriving so late.
5 More Mutants Than Just The X-Men Should Get Attention Fox's Highest-Rated Projects Aren't Just X-Men Movies While six of the top ten highest-rated projects in Fox's X-Men franchise focus on the X-Men or separate members of the team, namely Wolverine, the others are partially or completely separated from the titular superhero group. Legion, Deadpool, Deadpool 2, and The Gifted all focus on mutants outside the X-Men, and were praised nonetheless. Since Marvel Studios' X-Men reboot is already in production, there's no doubt the MCU's future mutant storylines will kick off with the team itself, but the MCU should branch out after that.
Even in the highest-rated X-Men movies, other mutants were put in the spotlight. These include Caliban, Nightcrawler, Sebastian Shaw, and X-23, among others, proving that Marvel Studios doesn't need to only focus on the X-Men. There are also hundreds of mutants from Marvel Comics that never got attention in Fox's X-Men franchise, so Marvel Studios can differentiate itself entirely by exploring these new characters.
Related Recasting X-Men '97's Mutants For The MCU's Live-Action Franchise X-Men "97 has brought back classic incarnations of many X-Men characters, and adapting them into live-action would require the right actors.
4 Marvel Studios Should Shine A Light On Lesser-Known Mutants Legion, X-Men: First Class & The Gifted All Explored Lesser-Known Mutants By exploring the stories of more mutants outside the X-Men team, Marvel Studios has the perfect opportunity to focus on some lesser-known mutants from Marvel Comics. This is something that 20th Century Fox also excelled at, particularly when developing the stories of Legion, X-Men: First Class, and The Gifted. First Class debuted the likes of Banshee, Darwin, and Angel, who hadn't been seen until that point, while Fox's TV shows in the X-Men franchise did an even deeper dive into Marvel Comics' mutant history.
Legion's focus on David Haller was inspired, particularly when pitting him against the Shadow King, potentially a truly terrifying villain in the MCU. The Gifted, while giving attention to many lesser-known mutants, focused on the likes of Blink, Thunderbird, the Stepford Cuckoos, and Polaris, who deserve even more attention in the MCU's future. This would be a great way to expand the MCU's future mutant-centric storylines.
David Haller is the mutant son of Professor X and Gabrielle Haller in Marvel Comics, with his dissociate identity disorder allowing him to access a huge number of powerful abilities.
3 Marvel Studios Should Show The X-Men’s Origin Story X-Men: First Class Is One Of The Highest-Rated X-Men Movies 2011's X-Men: First Class is the fourth-highest-rated project in Fox's X-Men franchise, and quickly became the franchise's most popular installment at the time of its release. Acting as a prequel to the original X-Men trilogy, First Class explored the meeting of Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr and the formation of the first X-Men team, who banded together to take down Sebastian Shaw and the Hellfire Club. The success of X-Men: First Class means Marvel Studios could repeat a similar storyline, focusing on the origin of the titular team.
At this point, it's unclear whether the X-Men are already secretly operating in the MCU, or if they'll come together for the first time in Marvel Studios' X-Men movie. Repeating X-Men: First Class would give Marvel Studios the opportunity to reinvent the team from the ground up, however, perhaps introducing a more comic-accurate first line-up for the X-Men, which Fox never did.
Marvel Comics' original X-Men team formed in 1963's The X-Men #1 and comprised Charles Xavier's Professor X, Scott Summers' Cyclops, Bobby Drake's Iceman, Hank McCoy's Beast, Warren Worthington III's Angel, and Jean Grey's Marvel Girl.
2 A Strong Cast Will Make The MCU’s X-Men Projects Even Better Fantastic Performers Were Attached To Most Of Fox's High-Rated Projects One thing that all the highest-rated projects in Fox's X-Men timeline share is a strong cast. 2000's X-Men introduced some legendary actors as powerful mutants, such as Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen being cast as Professor X and Magneto, and this only developed over the years. Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, James McAvoy, and Michael Fassbender all became household names thanks to their brilliant performances in the X-Men franchise, and this can be repeated with a new X-Men cast in the MCU.
There is a lot of pressure on Marvel Studios to recast the X-Men with strong performers, as audiences have grown to love Fox's various X-Men teams. After recent updates for the casts of other MCU projects, including The Fantastic Four, Agatha All Along, and Blade, however, there's no doubt that Marvel Studios will bring powerhouse talents in for X-Men, repeating one of the best aspects of Fox's X-Men franchise.
Related Picking The MCU’s X-Men Team From mutants the X-Men films never really explored like Emma Frost to established characters like Storm, here’s what Marvel’s X-Men lineup should be.
1 Professor X & Magneto Must Still Be At The Core Of The MCU’s X-Men Stories Professor X & Magneto Are At The Heart Of Fox's Highest-Rated X-Men Projects Close Professor X and Magneto are at the core of every good X-Men story, so they must be reinvented for the MCU. Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr's philosophical battle sums up the entire allegory of the X-Men perfectly, as Xavier believes that humans and mutants can co-exist peacefully, while Lehnsherr believes mutants to be superior. The rivalry between the old friends was key to Fox's X-Men franchise, and is something that will surely be revisited in the MCU.
The fact that the friendship and rivalry between Professor X and Magneto has been such a massive focus throughout Marvel's history means their MCU debuts are likely imminent. Many actors have been suggested to take over as Professor X and Magneto in the MCU, but no casting choices have yet been confirmed. These legendary mutants are expected to be crucial to the MCU's X-Men stories, just as they were for 20th Century Fox.
Marvel's X-Men Not Yet Rated ActionSuperhero Marvel's X-Men is the tentative title for the future debut of the legendary Marvel mutant superhero team in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 
Studio(s) Marvel Studios Upcoming MCU Movies
Release Date
Deadpool & Wolverine
July 26, 2024
Captain America: Brave New World
February 14, 2025
May 5, 2025
The Fantastic Four
July 25, 2025
November 7, 2025
Avengers 5
May 1, 2026
Avengers: Secret Wars
May 7, 2027


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