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All the ways the Marvel movies have already hinted that the X-Men exist

From Professor X to Kamala Khan

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Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Ever since the Walt Disney Company acquired 20th Century Fox, Marvel Cinematic Universe fans have wondered when they would get to see the long-awaited reunification of Marvel Comics’ most famous houses: the Avengers and the X-Men. It may have taken half a decade, but it seems the mutants are finally making their presence known in the MCU.

Piece by piece, Marvel movies and television shows are building a path that leads right to Professor Xavier’s Westchester mansion. Here’s a compilation of everything we know about mutants and the X-Men in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Kamala Khan is the Marvel movies’ first confirmed mutant

(L-R): Iman Vellani as Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan, holding up her hand, which is glowing with strange energy, and Matt Lintz as Bruno in Ms. Marvel. Image: Marvel Studios

In the final moments of her television series, Kamala Khan’s (Iman Vellani) tech-minded BFF Bruno gave her some pretty weird news: There was something in her DNA that none of her immediate family shared. Something “different. Like... like a mutation.” In the soundtrack of the scene, an electric guitar flicked through the first seven notes of the infamous theme song from 1992’s X-Men: The Animated Series — literally underscoring the significance of the word.

Kamala isn’t a mutant in the comics, so the reveal came as quite the surprise to fans, as it was the first time in MCU history that the concept had even been acknowledged.

Wolverine exists, possibly?

“Man fights with metal claws in bar brawl” news headline in She-Hulk hinting at Wolverine appearance Image: Marvel Studios

In a somewhat less serious hat tip to mutantkind, the second episode of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law featured a little Easter egg hidden in a quick shot of Jennifer Walters’ fruitless search for a new career. On the page’s related stories list, a headline reads “Man fights with metal claws in bar brawl.” There aren’t too many people in the real world who get in bar fights with their metal claws, but there are Marvel characters for whom it happens, like, every other Tuesday — most famously, Wolverine.

This could mean that Wolverine is alive and snikt-ing. Or it could be a joke. But we live in hope.

Professor X in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

A hand that belongs to Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness trailer Image: Marvel Studios

2022’s Doctor Strange sequel gave us windows into a whole handful of parallel universes, but none more prominent than Earth-838, in which mutants exist and Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) is the leader of a cabal of powerful superheroes called the Illuminati. But, it’s important to underscore: Earth-838 is a parallel earth of the one we usually see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This Professor X doesn’t belong in “our” world.

But does this mean that Patrick Stewart is going to play Professor Xavier in the main universe of the MCU? Not really. Only one of the six Illuminati in Multiverse of Madness actually matched up, character and actor, to someone in the main MCU.

But any way you slice it, this was still the first appearance of a core X-Men character in the entire history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Quicksilver was in WandaVision... sort of

Evan Peters as Pietro Maximoff aka Quicksilver in WandaVision standing in the door wearing a leather jacket and Hawaiian shirt like a wacky sitcom brother character Image: Marvel Studios

But not so for tertiary X-Men characters! Sort of. Siblings Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch began their Marvel Comics lives as mutant characters who hung out with the Avengers, which, once they had been reimagined as characters who got their powers from the Infinity Stones, gave them a door to the MCU.

When the Scarlet Witch’s own TV show, WandaVision, premiered, many fans were on the edge of their seats, waiting to see if — now that Marvel Studios had recouped the X-Men — Wanda would get to be a mutant again. The surprise appearance of Evan Peters, who played Quicksilver in the 20th Century Fox X-Men movies, as Wanda’s super-speedy brother Pietro (i.e., Quicksilver, who in the MCU had died in Age of Ultron) only drove speculation into a frenzy.

But alas, the show’s conclusion revealed that Peters’ character was actually a normal human bystander who’d been ensorceled into a likeness of Wanda’s brother to drive her to the brink. Was this the Marvel Cinematic Universe playing with the idea of mutants? Yes. Was it an actual mutant character? No.

Mutants in the future MCU

A huge number of X-Men characters stand arrayed around Moira and Professor X sitting on a bench, in promo art for House of X/Powers of X from Marvel Comics. Image: Mark Brooks/Marvel Comics

Marvel’s Merry Mutants haven’t arrived yet — but all signs at Marvel point to it being soon. So what do we know about the future of the X-Men and the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Deadpool will be in the MCU

Deadpool 2 - Deadpool holding up a tiny boombox Image: 20th Century Studios

Marvel Studios has promised to continue 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool franchise with star Ryan Reynolds in the lead — and this time, it’ll be set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe! A new, R-rated Deadpool film is currently in development, with Free Guy’s Shawn Levy set to direct. Considering how many X-Men characters — including the Xavier school and mansion — featured in the first two Deadpool movies, it would be a real departure for none to appear in the third.

An X-Men movie is coming... sometime

In 2019, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told a screaming San Diego Comic-Con crowd that the studio was in production on an MCU-set X-Men movie. Since then, we haven’t heard a peep. But Feige has said that the MCU’s take on the X-Men will be “quite different” from 20th Century Fox’s. For now, we’ll just have to wait until Marvel finally spills the beans on how it’ll bring some of the most popular Marvel Comics characters of all time to the biggest Marvel movie universe of all time.