Even though the X-Men film franchise is not as strong as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it still has a lot kick left to keep going. 2016’s Deadpool reinvigorated fans, and the latest release, Logan, did not disappoint by any standards. The two movies have deservedly earned a lot of praise, leading many people to say they’ve both been the best comic book movies to date because of their fresh takes on the genre. This has put Fox in a crucial position—with all eyes on them—to continue to meet the standard their last two films have set. There are five X-Men films currently in pre-production: New Mutants, Deadpool 2, X-Force, Dark Phoenix (a sequel to X-Men: Apocalypse), and the (forever in limbo) Gambit movie. With this wide range of characters, teams, and possible genres, it’s important that all of them set the right tone for each story. And to me, a perfect way of doing that is picking the perfect villain.
Like the MCU and recent DC movies, the X-Men films have followed a very predictable pattern when it comes to their villains. In the span of a single film, a fan favourite baddie is either killed off too early in the story or not given enough depth to have much emotional impact. With the exception of Magneto, who has grown and been the focus of several of the X-Men movies, many of the villains for the franchise are seriously lacking. And by now, even the direction Magneto takes in each film is starting to feel repetitive. The series needs new blood to maintain the positive momentum.
It’s only been in the solo X-movies (all three Wolverine films and Deadpool) that Fox has been able to use other baddies and not rely on the lurking presence of the Master of Magnetism. Being forced outside of their comfort zone and choosing villains that are suitable for the protagonist and story has lead to more hits than misses in the solo movies. Not everything needs to connect back to Professor X and Magneto. However, they still use the same villain motif, killing or ignoring them. I, personally, had no interest in The Wolverine‘s Silver Samurai adaptation and knew all of the action beats before they were going to happen. It was all very predictable.
With ten films currently in the X-Men franchise and five in development, the team at Fox need to choose wisely which villains that want to include; and of course use well before they run out of memorable foes to fight. They need to fit the specific film they’re in and the protagonists they’re facing.
Assuming the producers and writers don’t want to repeat already used nemeses (because some are dead), this list will only have X-Men villains which have not been used in both the movies and television shows—both in the past, currently, and forthcoming. So that means no Mr. Sinister (who was teased at the end of X-Men: Apocalypse and will probably show up in later films), the Shadow King (currently in Legion), or the Morlocks (rumoured to be in upcoming X-Men show, Gifted).
I’m also gonna stay away from aliens/extraterrestrials for the main team movies—not because I don’t like those characters with the X-Men—but because I think Fox should make a series of (lets say at least three) consistently good X-Men team ensemble movies within a contained universe before they set their sights on the stars. So, who does that leave us with?
Although he is best known for his time in the Hellfire Club, Jason Wyngarde, a.k.a. Mastermind, first appeared as an original member of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Mastermind’s powers of creating illusions were weak in his Brotherhood days, but when he joined ranks with Sebastian Shaw and the Hellfire Club, he became a formidable foe who had mastered his powers. He wasn’t only able to cast illusions, but also utilized the ability to alter and remove memories.
Mastermind is most known for his role in creating the Dark Phoenix by manipulating Jean Grey/Phoenix to turn against the X-Men and becoming the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club. Of course, after the events of X-Men: First Class, Fox executives may not want to mention the Hellfire Club again (they burned that bridge). However, they can make Jason Wyngarde an old friend of Magneto; someone who shares his views on mutant supremacy, and has no moral boundaries to get there.
The rumours that the sequel to X-Men: Apocalypse might be a Dark Phoenix story have been confirmed, so bringing in Mastermind would be a great throwback to the comics. Although I would prefer that Fox leads up to the Dark Phoenix by just establishing the Phoenix in Dark Phoenix, this probably won’t happen (just look at the name) because they might feel the need to redeem themselves from The Last Stand. It took several issues for that change to take place, and if Fox really wants to prove they can do it right, they should take their time with it. But I guess if we are going to get the Dark Phoenix in this coming movie, I would just like to see Mastermind be a part of it.
Sophie Turner, who played Jean Grey in Apocalypse, is set to return, and although we don’t know if Dark Phoenix will be set right after the events of that movie or have another decade-spanning time jump, Turner is still a young actor at 21 years old. I would like to see Mastermind involved in a film adaptation of the Dark Phoenix Saga, but I don’t want to watch an older man seduce a young woman to the dark side.
Okay, I know this may look like a joke, but I am being 100% serious with this pick. If the producers want to expand the X-Men universe, starting somewhat small-scale makes more sense. Mojo is the tyrannical ruler of the Mojoverse and a slaver, where he runs gladiator-like television programs. He doesn’t have the typical look of a X-Men movie villain—as a “Spineless One,” he is immobile without the use of advanced technology. He’s a gross blob. All of the past bad guys in the films have been human-looking; even Apocalypse was normal height throughout the movie (except when battling Charles in the latter’s mind). So this could be an interesting change visually.
Mojo, in the comics, is the main villain of Longshot and Shatterstar, who were created as slaves and forced to play in Mojo’s games. Both escaped Mojo and joined the X-Men at separate times, and Shatterstar is a founding member of X-Force. I can imagine Mojo collecting some mutants he finds interesting (Deadpool, Cable, and maybe Domino) and making them fight—possibly in a more Battle Royale style setting than gladiator. It’s then that we’re introduced to Shatterstar and see the forming of X-Force.
The dramatics of a life-or-death battle with the outrageous tone the Mojo (and Deadpool) set would be a good way to meld the serious nature X-Force has with the playful format Deadpool established. The only drawback to this story line is that it all might be too similar to Thor: Ragnarok (coming out this November), and Mojo’s role as a hedonistic, autocratic umpire might read as a copy of Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster. So there’s only waiting until this fall to see if there are too many similarities with both the scenarios and characters.
Like Mojo, Belasco is the ruler of another world in a separate universe called Limbo/Otherplace. His connection to the X-Men is directly tied to New Mutant member Illyana Rasputin/Magik. Belasco kidnapped Illyana when she was a child because he could harvest her pure soul for power. Illyana was able to escape with the help of alternate reality versions of the X-Men, but had aged up severely since she was abducted since time moves faster in Limbo. Magik has since become a fan favourite to a lot of X-Men comics book readers and is now a staple character to the primary roster. To see a movie revolve around her would amazing for a lot of people.
The (first) New Mutants movie’s antagonist has been confirmed to be the Demon Bear, so to suggest Belasco as a villain for an upcoming movie is suggesting there will be a sequel to the teen-focused film. Which…I mean…come on. Its a comic book movie, for god’s sake! This New Mutants movie could see Magik taking her teammates (forcibly?) to Limbo to take down Belasco before he summons the Elder Gods. Throughout the film, we can be given hints or flashbacks as to what happened to Illyana during her childhood in Limbo and why it is her life’s mission/curse to defeat Belasco and oversee the Otherplace.
If Fox were ambiguous to expand their universe by connecting the isolated movies together, this story could be one way doing that. Just like Logan focused on father-son and father-daughter relationships, we could see a brother-sister relation between Illyana and her older bother, Piotr, the famous X-Man Colossus, if the two teams appear in one movie. Piotr is fiercely protective of his sister, and even though she exceedingly capable of take care of herself, she treasures he brother and indulges him from time to time. In one film we can see the young New Mutants team-up with the heavy hitters of the X-Men…or at least interact with each other. Both would be amazing.
The Grey-Summers family is really weird (and gross) at times, and Stryfe is a perfect embodiment of that. As the evil twin of Cable, he’s the opposite of the stoic, metal-armed hero. Stryfe was raised by Apocalypse in the same alternate future as Cable, and grew up to be a petulant, murderous prince who grew up isolated and bored. He has no concern over peoples’ lives—if the live of die, or how he negatively effects them. He unquestionably takes joy torturing others enough to leave a lasting scar.
Depending on how they introduce Cable and his background in Deadpool 2 or X-Force (is he Jean and Scott’s child who was taken to an alternate future ruled by Apocalypse or someone else?), Stryfe’s history will change as well to fit the narratives the films have instituted. X-Men: Apocalypse did not do a good job with the titular villain, and that may sway producers to stay away with his involvement in Cable’s life. But I think they should keep it the same. If Dark Phoenix is atoning for the events of The Last Stand by redoing the (Dark) Phoenix, getting into Cable and Stryfe’s lives could be a way to redeem Apocalypse with a more accurate version of the blue God.
If producers want a more serious X-Force movie (compared to Deadpool) or even a solo Cable movie in the future, Stryfe would be the perfect villain. Sharing, not only the same physical appearance, but similar mutant abilities as well, Stryfe has easily impersonated Cable multiple times (it’s what clones do). Cable and Stryfe are two overly muscular men that are covered head-to-toe in unnecessary armor even though they are extremely powerful mutants. With the insane 90s tropes that these two epitomize and the fact that they’re clones (something Marvel loves), we could get a lot of good zingers from Deadpool to lighten the mood.
Mutants’ greatest enemy has been—and always will be—humans. And much as Marvel comics wants to push story arcs like Avengers vs. X-Men or Inhumans vs. X-Men, the mutant fight is for equality with humankind. And humans like Bolivar Trask, creator of the Sentinels, politician Robert Kelly, and entrepreneur Graydon Creed did not only stand in the way of that progress, but actively fought against it. The fact that they were powerful foes, and have absolutely no super powers, makes them even more interesting I find.
The Purifiers are an extremist group that was started by religious fanatic William Stryker who believe that it is against the wish of God for mutants to exist. Since their first appearance in God Loves, Man Kills, they’ve only been featured sporadically in the comics until the Messiah Complex arc in the mid-2000s. The Purifiers are ruthless and believe they’re fighting a “holy war” against mutants. They have ambushed the X-mansion, killed hundreds of mutants, and even bombed a bus of depowered students after the events of M Day.
Since the films have restricted Stryker to staying with his military roots, his role within the Purifiers will not make sense. In the comics, a man named Matthew Risman was the successor after Stryker had died, but he died shortly afterwards. Risman didn’t leave a lasting impression, so the producers at Fox could write him however they want…or the films could connect it more directly to the X-Men. In X-Force Vol.3, it was revealed that X-Man Rahne Sinclair/Wolfsbane’s birth father had become a leading member of the Purifiers. Reverend Craig Sinclair was cold and abusive to Rahne when she was a child, and he was convinced after her mutation manifested that she was possessed by Satan.
Like Professor X has Magneto, Wolfsbane has her guilt and inner demons, which correlates to her upbringing with her father. The personal connections heroes have with villains is what an audience invests their time into. You can have a group like the X-Men or Avengers fight a faceless hoard of aliens and monsters, but it’ll never be as interesting as a one-on-one fight with an arch villain that directly ties to the hero’s story.
What are you opinions? Agree with the list? Who do you think the X-Men should fight in upcoming films?