I’m going to give Disney some free advice about how to handle their incoming Fox X-Men properties. Let’s be honest – they need it because they’re going to do the same thing that Fox did (twice) and if this happens…I’m finished with the franchise. Mr. Feige – pay attention, please. This will be the only time I will give out free advice.
DON’T MAKE THE DARK PHOENIX SAGA!
There are so many other stories that you can make. The great thing about the current MCU is that they’ve gone deep into the Marvel lore to find stories. Guardians of the Galaxy? Only the hardcore Marvel fans knew of it. Avengers? Holy cow…gathering a decade of stories, keeping everyone together and making an engaging, coherent storyline. Sheer genius, sir. Wrapping everything up in a satisfying way – giving the soldier the send-off he wanted? Gold.
Saying that…don’t do the Phoenix Saga. Yes, it is easily the most recognizable story from the X-Men. It is a great story. A tale of corrupting power, sacrifice and man’s place in the universe. It is the ultimate myth.
But there are others.
Allow me to introduce to you the one that is so relevant to today’s times and moral issues, even though it was in the 80’s (which says more about maintaining status quo than anything else): God Loves, Man Kills. Yes, there are some things in it that have come up in other X-Men films, but since we can all look away and mutter something about alternate realities. Now that the X-Men have come back home to the MCU, we can make this story as wide and as deep as we can.
For those of you who might have missed this, I am going to give you a quick summation lovingly cut and pasted from Wikipedia:
Magneto is investigating the murder of two mutant children who were killed by henchmen of the Reverend William Stryker. Stryker, who murdered his wife and newborn son after his son (a deformed mutant child) was born, seeks the wholesale extermination of mutant kind while presenting himself to the public as a fire and brimstone preacher, spreading a message claiming that mutants are abominations in the eyes of God. After a television debate with Professor Charles Xavier, Stryker (who knows that Xavier is a mutant) kidnaps him, forcing the X-Men to team up with Magneto to find their mentor.
Xavier has been hooked up to a machine that will use his psychic power to kill all the world’s mutants via cerebral hemorrhage. At a revival meeting, where a popular US Senator (who is a closeted mutant) is in attendance, Magneto and the X-Men confront Stryker and rescue Xavier. In the end, after Shadowcat and Nightcrawler successfully bait Stryker into admitting kidnapping Xavier and his plans for mutant genocide, Stryker is shot in the chest by a security guard when he tries to murder Shadowcat in public.
Magneto and the X-Men part ways, with Magneto politely turning down an offer by Xavier to join the X-Men and renounce evil. However, before he leaves, he reminds the X-Men that Stryker may have the final victory, as already his defenders rally to him as he awaits trial for his crimes.
Yes – there are a lot of things taken from this and glued on X-Men 2, but we can keep the base story: a demagogue playing to the fears of the masses and steering us towards the brink of war (civil or otherwise), people judged solely on appearance, the use of religion to justify murder – either of an individual or a group of people. It’s sad that this comic is thirty-two years old and not a whole lot has changed.
We can make a lot of cosmetic changes – we don’t need William Striker. Call him Joseph Sparrow – Reverend Sparrow to his followers. He runs one of these mega-churches that dot the landscape like how grasshoppers can dot a wheat field, but his message is not right out of the Prosperity Playbook. Nope, he’s a Calvinist through and through. He believes that there are The Elect – people that God has set aside for salvation whether they want it or not. What makes them The Elect? Well, I can tell you what doesn’t. Shooting eye beams, reading minds and walking through walls is a quick and steady path to Hell. He preaches hellfire and brimstone that’s due to those that God has shunned. He calls them inhuman. He calls them minions of that Fallen Angel, that Wicked Serpent and the Prince of the Air. His message is getting out and getting more and more popular.
While the reverend doesn’t specifically say that the only good mutie is a dead mutie…he’s leaving a lot in between the lines. He’s got a follower who can read between those lines very well and has connections to people who think that the path to Heaven can be paved with broken skulls as well as gold. This will be our dragon and we’ll call him Peter. Peter is our holy head-knocker. His heart is on fire and his knuckles are bloody for Christ.
Professor Charles Xavier watches our Reverend carefully. Being a telepath, he’s aware of how powerful a group of people lined up for a common cause can be. He guides his pupils to try to be the better man. People like Reverend Sparrow will come and go, what matters is the community and that you serve it to the best of your abilities. There is someone else who is watching the growing popularity of the reverend.
Erik Magnus Lensherr, a.k.a. Max Eisehardt, a.k.a. Magneto. He’s like Xavier in that he knows the power of the mob, but unlike Xavier, it was a painful education. He begins to make his plans, waiting for the trigger (literally) to be pulled. He gathers his own army of the dispossessed and the downtrodden mutants. We are coming to a growing, three-way conflict. One that will change how the U.S. and possibly the world deals with the growing Mutant Menace.
I won’t do the whole film treatment here, but I’m just going a little into it so that it can be demonstrated that this story can work. It can be the end of Phase 5 (?) and not only involve the X-Men. We can have something like this lurking in the background for the other films, along with the other mutants. Something that would make the ones that are in the know eager for the next film to come out and have the non-Marvel people watch the films again to see the breadcrumb trail leading to the last movie.
Mr. Feige – this movie can be done. Should be done. Needs to be done and done by your more than capable staff of writers (I’m also free if you want me to come in and be a story editor. Free timewise, but relatively inexpensive moneywise). Having the X-Men and their properties is the chance to widen the Marvel Universe and open so many little known and compelling stories (Illyana Rasputin, for example). Please do the right thing. Please, please stay away from Dark Phoenix.
Thank you for your time. All of you. Check out my books on the right side of the screen. Grab one and see how good I am to write “God Loves, Man Kills” the movie…or at least the novelization.