Ultimate X-Men to Young Wolverine: 5 ways Fox could make a good Marvel TV series

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Nov 25, 2015, 11:22 AM EST (Updated)

News recently broke that Fox is working with Marvel to put together a new X-Men television series, and I have a few ideas for how they could make it work.

Though the studio confirmed they’re deep in negotiations with Marvel to work out the kinks, they didn’t offer any details as to what form a small-screen project might take. All we do know: They want to keep it "exclusively the franchise as it has existed at Fox” while also putting together a concept that could evolve into a long-running franchise, as opposed to a short-form miniseries.

That basically means the project would be set in, or around, 20th Century Fox’s corner of the Marvel universe with the X-Men, and would certainly not connect to Marvel’s small-screen projects like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Daredevil. Despite the fact that Fox has the rights to X-Men, Marvel would have to approve any potential TV project, so it’ll be interesting to see how (and if) this comes together. Sure, Marvel loves money, but they’re not above throwing some spite on franchises that are outside the home stable (see: Fantastic Four).

So, how could a TV series work? There are limitless options, but I have a few ideas I hope Fox might be considering.

New Mutants: Xavier’s new recruits

This option is one of the most obvious, assuming Fox could work out a way to either A) recast Professor X for the small screen, B) put someone else in charge of Xavier’s School (which could work), or C) sign Patrick Stewart up for a recurring role. New Mutants is basically the first X-Men film, though it would be set in the modern day and focused on a new generation of young mutants. It would give viewers a format they’re already familiar with (Xavier’s School/X-Men base) and bring in a fresh cast of young heroes to do the narrative heavy lifting. Potential New Mutants who would be a good fit include Cannonball, Karma, Wolfsbane, Cypher, Magik, etc. There’s a deep bench of characters that are (mostly) unexplored in the films.

X-Force: The straight-up action series

The X-Force is a spinoff team from the main X-Men group and is typically associated with black ops and a more militaristic take on the mutant super-team. A film adaptation of X-Force has been kicking around for years, which means the studio definitely has interest in putting together an X-Force project in some capacity. Repurposing those ideas for TV would be one of the easiest options to get something moving quickly. Assuming they could work out the budget to pull off solid action, it could be an exciting project that stands apart from the films. As for the roster, X-Force has seen dozens (and dozens) of members over the years, from Cable to Sunspot to Hope Summers and X-23. There are a ton of options, assuming they want to stay out of the way of the film franchise.

Ultimate X-Men: Take it alt-universe

Though it's being junked as part of the Secret Wars relaunch, Marvel’s Ultimate universe was once a creative force to be reckoned with. One of the flagship titles? Ultimate X-Men, which focused on a modern-day reimagining of many classic characters — all set in an alternate universe. This would give Fox creative freedom to use the X-Men portfolio to its greatest potential, opening up A-listers like Wolverine, Iceman, Kitty Pryde, Cyclops, etc. for starring roles. Plus, since it’s an alternate universe, you obviously have free license to recast the roles for the small screen and shake up the storytelling without interfering with the films. This would easily provide the biggest sandbox to play in and is similar to what DC has done by having the Arrow/Flash universe on the small screen, with a big-screen Flash set to debut in the coming years. 

Wolverine/[Insert Other Character]: The Untold Stories

I’ll use Wolverine as the example here, since he’s the most well-known and recognizable character (despite Wolverine Fatigue). Basically, instead of a team approach, focus the series on one major character and tell the untold stories that could conceivably fit into the canon, without messing it all up. You’d obviously have to recast the role with a younger actor, but this would give Fox a way to (once again) capitalize on the big guns in the X-Men stable. Worth noting: Hugh Jackman was 30 when he first suited up, so aim for an actor around that age to take up the small-screen role.

X-Factor: The investigative-type series

If you’re wanting to evoke something in the vein of The X-Files, Fringe and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. all within the X-Men framework — this is one intriguing option.  Much like X-Force, this could be a team-based approach that takes the X-Men model and focuses on a lower-tier group of heroes. But, unlike X-Force, X-Factor has been portrayed as an investigative team looking into all the weird in the world of mutants. It’s got everything: science fiction, corporate conspiracies and superpowers. The team has also had a ton of different members, meaning the studio could put together a group that doesn’t interfere much with the film characters (if that’s what they’re wanting to do).

What do you think? What X-stories would you like to see Fox bring to the small screen? Let us know in the comments!

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