Fans have been waiting to see how Marvel continues to handle their newly-acquired X-Men characters. They’ve been gradually introducing new mutants to the MCU while having added a variant of Patrick Stewart’s Professor X to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Of course, this variant did not exist in the actual Marvel Cinematic Universe, so we’re still waiting to see how such X-Men characters will be included in the future. Now a new rumor suggests that Disney will race-swap a number of X-Men characters for the MCU.
This rumor comes via That Park Place, where a toy industry insider shared the alleged information. As one might imagine, there’s a lot more to do than simply introduce the X-Men into the MCU film franchise. They have to plan out a massive merchandising campaign the same way they do with other such Marvel characters. Obviously this includes games, toys, clothes, and plenty of other options to choose from. However, it appears that we’ll have a few very different X-Men characters being represented by this merchandise and their inevitable film appearances. Specifically, and as mentioned above, Disney allegedly plans to race-swap several X-Men characters with plans to reduce the number of Caucasian characters in the superhero team.
Firstly, the insider claims that Disney thinks their planned X-Men race-swap will be more widely “accepted if the incoming « swapped-in » actor is a bigger name, with the thinking that the more marquis the name, the harder it is for fans to object or criticize it.” Furthermore, Disney wants to keep “reigning in budgets somewhat, at minimum setting caps.” Though this would have to work with their “winning formula” going forward which is based around “cameos.” Interestingly, cameos are a part of the next element to introduce these new X-Men characters.
Although they “need to talk to another guy to get more,” the insider insists that “select Fox-Avengers will be included as « bait » and as « jobbers » for new « Disney » X-Men.” This will result in more of the “bait & switches” that fans have been complaining about. So, rather than reduce the amount of bait & switches, they are aiming to use what’s been described as “better bait.” This has been described in the following way:
“The Fox actors are considered « top notch bait ». At first glance, this « better bait », when it rolls out will likely be FALSELY interpreted by some fans as Disney « listening to the fans ». It’s not. It’s a cynical money play, which also has a component to shut up those manufacturing licensed products (« see, see, we gave you a white male hero for a few minutes, so what are you complaining about? »).”
They further explained that “the baiting with character/actor stunts aims to also sell the characters which are Disney’s real interest. In pro wrestling it’s called « jobbing », where an established big name who pops with fans is used to put over, sell, or at least make more palatable a new character the wrestling promotion wants to push. Watch for this to get even more glaring going forward.” As such, fans might have to prepare for additional bait & switches for the continuing MCU. Additionally, it appears that they are working on creating more LGBTQ representation within the X-Men brand. As for the “X-Men” title, which has gained criticism for the use of the word “Men,” it appears that it’s still unchanged as of now.
Additionally, “one Marvel mid-line creative” apparently claimed that they have to have “white men be more present than we want to” as they try “to find a palatable-to-them balance between the minimum property authenticity to ensure commercial success and their main focus of « being reflective of not only today’s society but also of the society of tomorrow ».” This means that we could see gender-swaps in addition to race-swaps, though there aren’t any reports made on that front just yet.
Finally, the toy industry insider claimed that their info comes from “2nd and 3rd removed sources at Disney,” but that “3 of them have said that one of the main objectives is to « continue to move on, to transit from white men », even if this means leaving money on the table.” They further explained that Disney knows “« unfortunately white men are the money in the whole revenue stream chain, which includes multiple viewings, more merch at higher price points, secondary media spends, etc. We want to give the minimum possible needed to get the most that we can out of them. We’ll have to throw them a couple of bones.»”
Of course, all of this information should be taken with a grain of salt. But Disney has been taking great strides to make a more diverse and inclusive Marvel Cinematic Universe. It certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see race-swaps or gender-swaps made for their new versions of the X-Men. As such, we’ll just have to see how this rumor develops as we get closer to seeing Disney’s actual plans come to fruition.