The news that Disney are finally acquiring 20th Century Fox has opened up possibilities that many of MCU fans thought they could only dream of. Properties such as the X-Men, X-Force, New Mutants, Wolverine, Deadpool, the Fantastic Four, the Silver Surfer, the Savage Land, the Starjammers and the Shi’ar are all coming home and could potentially interact with your favourite Avengers on screen. However, one character’s transition from the Fox-verse may be a tad problematic. I’m talking of course, about the X-Men’s greatest foe, the Master of Magnetism: Magneto.
Now, one key aspect of the MCU is that most of the events happen in a coherent timeline. On the whole, this makes it easier for all of the characters to interact with each other without the need for time travel, cosmic catastrophes or some other mystical Marvel mayhem to occur every time we want Ant Man to interact with say, Spider-Man (I like the bug guys). Sure, that sort of reality-altering madness may be happening in Avengers 4, but it’s best not to become too reliant on these tropes.
It's not too late to make this pair Magneto's children...
Magneto aka Max ‘Magnus’ Eisenhardt aka Erik Lehnsherr undoubtedly has one of the most tragic and emotional origin stories of all time. A Jewish boy in Nazi-occupied Poland, the young Max (or Erik), witnessed his family die in Auschwitz and it was in this moment of unspeakable trauma that his mutant powers surfaced. Nonetheless, the stretch of logic arises when you consider the fact that, as a self-aware child during the Holocaust, Magneto would have to be at least ninety years old in the present day.
Theories batted around by clueless internetees (like YOU) have included giving Magneto the ability to age more slowly (à la Wolverine), making his family the victims of a more recent genocide and worst of all, creating a fictional atrocity in a made-up Marvel country like Sokovia for him to suffer through. But these are… not great, as they would lessen the impact of the character’s motivations. Also, the latter could potentially be offensive, given the weight of the subject matter. So, the best course of action is to keep his classic origin intact. Otherwise, Disney risks destroying one of the most poignant story lines in comics.
How to Do It
Okay, now for the main event. Imagine a post-Avengers 4 world where there are mutants around the globe, but there is no mutant ‘identity’. People born with special abilities are classed as unique freaks of nature by their peers, but the word mutant is not even in the public consciousness yet. Nonetheless, there are some that have made this realisation and have begun to unite people that are born with abilities under their own ideologies. Throughout the 20th Century, Magneto was one of these, a terrorist with a small group of followers committing racially motivated attacks on government facilities in the name of mutant liberation.
What Magneto knew at this time that we did not is that SHIELD was under the control of Hydra, a splinter group from his old enemy the Nazis. And what’s more, they were kidnapping mutants, performing eugenic experiments on them and covering up their existence to the world. Therefore, Magneto’s attacks became ‘natural disasters’ or ‘factory accidents’ because SHIELD had the power to manipulate the facts. At least, they did, until Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where SHIELD had to declassify many documents and as a result, video footage of Magneto freeing mutants surfaced online.
Since then, in the darkest reaches of the internet (you know the parts), the footage has spread, and the rise of the mutant identity is causing racial tensions and persecution. Also, #MagnetoWasRight totally becomes a thing. The mutant secret is out and SHIELD are in big, big trouble from mutant activists.
But where is old man Mags in all of this? Of course, he’s in hiding, because he knows that he can no longer take on the government physically in his poor health. Nonetheless, he regrets that he is now too old to take advantage of the work he has done for mutantkind. He cannot lead the revolution because he is hooked up to a machine that keeps him alive. The man’s like a hundred years old, give him a break! But, boy is he still intimidating and charismatic. He could kill you with a spoon if he wanted to and of course, he still wears his iconic helmet to stop Xavier, or any other telepath, finding him.
Also, he is cared for by a group of young, frustrated and desperate mutants calling themselves ‘The Brotherhood of Magneto’ who have gathered around him since the data leak. His old acolytes have been captured or killed and his new team consists of mutants like: Avalanche, Pyro, Blob, Destiny and Rogue (with full Southern sass, of course). Whilst most of the Brotherhood are like his Manson family, attacking humans because they believe they are racially superior, mutants like Rogue are just there because they have nowhere else to go and feel like persecuted outsiders.
Plot and Conclusion
A good X-Men team to start with would be a more diversified version of the original 5: Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel (hear me out) and Iceman, who can be the first openly gay superhero in the MCU. This helps to reinforce the message that mutants are a persecuted minority and what’s even better, it’s all in the comics (*gulp* triggered comments about forced diversity inbound). Another change that the film would benefit from would be to make Professor X younger than Magneto because then he would represent a newer, more progressive voice that speaks for equality, as opposed to Magneto’s jaded and bitter ideology. Furthermore, as Angel was one of the most under-utilised characters from Fox’s franchise, would it not then be wise to make this version vital to the narrative for a change? Sure, the power of flight alone can be rather boring, but Angel has also been known to heal people, so we can tweak this slightly and make it so an effect of this ability – under certain circumstances – is to restore youth to the people he is healing. And now we have a plot.
The race for Angel (or some other youth-dealing mutie) is on. If he falls into the Brotherhood’s hands, then Mags will return to full strength and the path to human subjugation begins. But, Xavier and his youthful team – ever the sticklers – are out for peaceful mutant-human cohabitation. The metaphor here, of course, would be that the young X-Men team must destroy the outdated beliefs of division and replace them with new ideas of unity. Oh, and for popcorn’s sake, we’re gonna have that big, badass battle with ‘youthified’ Magneto and his team at the end for everyone who's just in it for ‘splosions. How does that sound, eh? Are you… attracted by these ideas? Or repelled?