Long-rumoured but only now emerging blinking into the harsh fluorescent light of corporate negotiations, 20th Century Fox TV’s attempt to craft a show set in the X-Men universe is still in the embryonic stages. But if it finally is going ahead, we thought we’d offer up some helpful ideas for characters and concepts that might work in a medium that demands long-form storytelling and less ruinous effects budgets.
Obviously this one comes with more of a risk, since it could potentially mean re-casting some of the key players in the film series, including Cyclops and Jean Grey. And those characters are to be explored further – albeit at a younger age – in X-Men: Apocalypse. But given how fans reacted to the appearance of Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Rogue and Iceman at the end of the film and the erasing of the X-Men: The Last Stand plotline, there is plenty of scope to explore the nooks and crannies of this newly rebooted X-universe. What of other missions they undertook? Smaller battles they fought? And the emotional connections between them? Rogue fans in particular want more of the character and the show could deliver.
No, not a detective series where critical music types tear down various amateur acts while also solving crime… We’re talking the team run by Jamie Madrox (AKA Multiple Man), which probes into crimes committed by super-powered types. Team members include Guido Carosella (Strong Guy), Rahne Sinclair (Wolfsbane) and Theresa Cassidy (Siryn). Considered darker and scruffier than the big cinematic heroes, there is surely plenty to explore with mutants investigating other mutants, though care will need to be taken to keep it distinct from the investigations on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Marvel/Netflix series like Dardevil and Jessica Jones. Bonus? Madrox and the others all have dark pasts that can come back to haunt them.
Another fragment of Days Of Future Past that never quite got the screen time they might have deserved due to the focus on the more recognisable mutants, the younger super-powered types made for a very entertaining start to the film. Plus, it’s more likely that a TV show could secure the services of the actors and then see whether the bigger names could be prompted to drop by for guest appearances. If they have a downside, it’s that they all have powers that would be wildly expensive to depict on a TV budget (molten, metal skin, portals) but there are ways to utilise them that wouldn’t break the bank every week. Sitting around in their leisurewear and reading, for example.
Yes, Quicksilver. Easily the breakout new character from Days Of Future Past, Evan Peters’ portrayal of the light-fingered, fleet-footed mutant overcame initial concerns about his look to establish himself as a favourite. He contributed to one of the more entertaining and memorable superhero scenes in cinema last year and he has plenty of potential, even if Peters might not want to take a TV gig. Again, his powers would be tricky to bring to life, but The Flash is managing super-speed on a weekly basis, so there’s no reason why it couldn’t work. Plus, who doesn’t want to know more about him?
With Professor X increasingly worried about the safety of his charges, he decides to stop training new mutants. But Moira McTaggart convinces him to recruit and train a group of adolescents and help them master their skills rather then sending them out into combat as with the other X-Men. Of course, they’re soon getting into all sorts of trouble, with kidnap threats, battles in the Amazon and tangles with the likes of the Demon Bear. Because, let’s face it, the X-Mansion really isn’t a safe place to house impressionable youths. Members include shape-shifter Wolfsbane (yes, her again); Native American Mirage, blessed with the power of illusions, and Karma, a Vietnamese girl who can mentally possess others. This bunch could easily power several seasons’ worth of stories and crossover to the movies if needed.
Also known as Laura Kinney, she was the result of an experiment to continue the work of the Weapon X programme that gave Wolverine his adamantium skeleton. A clone from genetic material, Laura was trained from the age of seven to become a killer and exposed to radiation to bring out her mutant side. She’s initially used as an assassin and mercenary, but eventually falls in with various heroic X-Men teams. You could easily see a Buffy-style exploration of a young woman’s journey to understand her powers, her past and her problems. Plus she has the sort of abilities (strength, healing, claws) that one can fairly easily portray without breaking the bank. Plus she’s meaner than sack of honey badgers and twice as homicidal.
Originally created by the mutant known as Banshee (Sean Cassidy, as played by Caleb Landry Jones in X-Men: First Class and mentioned as dead in Days Of Future Past), the X-Corps served as a sort of a mutant police force, utilising Banshee’s belief that problems between humans and mutants could be curtailed by stopping big problems before they happened. Among his recruits? Jubilee, Multiple Man (a lot of crossover with these stories, folks) and Radius, who can create an impenetrable personal force field. Their take on the political situation between powered folk and us ordinary types is fascinating, and they’re never quite sure which side of the fight they’re on. TV is the ideal place to dig into such issues, we’re sure you’ll agree.
They probably wouldn’t get Alan Cumming anywhere near the make-up again (and he already has a regular telly job on The Good Wife), but Nightcrawler is a fascinating character that X2 barely scratched the surface of. While his teleportation power is tricky to bring in on budget, it is an effective one and he has such a layered, tragic story (Mystique is his mum dontchaknow) that there’s the scope for a TV series with real impact. While there has been talk that Bryan Singer wants to bring him back for X-Men: Apocalypse anyway, the biggest challenge might be finding someone who can bring the same level of emotion and quirk to the role. Maybe Jake Gyllenhaal. BECAUSE HE WAS IN NIGHTCRAWLER IT TOTALLY WORKS NO YOU BE QUIET.
Why should these stories always focus on the heroes? Seems unfair to us. So how about tackling this rag-tag group of criminal cyborgs whose main mission is to take the X-Men down? They’re a commando-style team of thieves who finance their wrongdoing by pulling off daring heists. Admittedly, in the comics lore, Professor X’s team hands them cans of whup-ass on a fairly regular basis, but these plucky baddies just won’t stop coming back, reforming into different groups. There’s a pitch to be made for a group of loveable cyborg thieves who mostly just want to make their fortune and enjoy the spoils – while just occasionally thinking about the total destruction of Xavier and his mutants.
Fox has made no secret of its desire to raid the archives of its TV shows for reboots and The X-Files is high on the list. Discussions are already under way about the idea, though what form it takes will be entirely dependent on whether Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny come back to take part, especially given their busy schedules. So why not combine the two? We can see it now with X-Factor Investigations helping out the FBI on some of their weirder cases. Though the idea of Scully being a sceptic might be a little harder to argue if she partners up with a bunch of freaks, weirdoes and super-powered mutants. Still, think about it. You’d watch.