by Miller C. Lashbrook
I have been thinking a lot about mutants this past week, and so to lean into that, in this post, I am going to share 10 Mutants from the Marvel Comics that I really look forward to seeing adapted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. These mutants are not necessarily my top 10 (that will be another list) and are not in any particular order.
1. Jean Grey
Jean Grey is one of my favorite mutants. She saw plenty of screen time in the Fox X-Men films plays by Famke Jensen in the original trilogy and then Sophie Turner in the new timeline. There is something missing from both of these performances however. Both depictions of Jean get close at times to the girl-next-door/power house that is Jean Grey, but I think never getting to see Jean really get too much screen time with her other X-Women took away from her character. One of the best part of Jean as a character in the comics is her friendships with other characters, especially Storm. If you are looking for a more modern comics story to give you an idea of Jean Grey as a character, check out X-Men: Red (2018). In this series Jean leads her own team of mutants against antimutant terrorism.
2. Mystique (and Destiny)
Anyone who has seen my Twitter profile recently would know that I love Mystique (she is my avatar). Rebecca Romijn played an amazing adaption of the character in the original three X-Men movies and Jennifer Lawrence was an okay (be it very different) version of the character in the new timeline. Neither of these versions of Raven Darkholme really was the comic book version. And Mystique’s wife Destiny has never been brought to the screen. I would love to see this couple brought to the screen together and established as partners in romance and crime from the beginning of their time in the MCU. Mystique needs to be played by a queer actress and someone who can play coy and cool all at once. If you want a great look at Mystique as a character, Johnathan Hickman’s X-Men (2019) #6 is perfect.
Scott Summers is one of those mutants that fans either love or hate. Many Emma Frost and Jean Grey fans see him as the lesser side of those relationships. But, Scott Summers is such a complex and interesting character that has been watered down in his animated and film adaptations. I think the best jumping on point for the X-Men in the MCU would be the Giant-Size X-Men team from the 70’s X-Men Comics. This team would allow Scott to be a real leader, but also include characters like Logan, who may not always listen to Scott. Scott works best when he is a reluctant leader with imposter syndrome who’s leadership is questioned. For an interesting time in Scott’s history as a character, check out Uncanny X-Men (2013).
Kurt Wagner a.k.a. Nightcrawler is my fiancé’s favorite mutant. While the White House action sequence at the start of X2 is an amazing scene neither of the on-screen versions of Kurt thus far have really captured the fun side of Kurt. He is the team member that is everybody’s friend. He needs to be someone with a heart that has fun. And please let him use a cutlass and swashbuckle. Amazing X-Men (2014) is a great team book led by Kurt.
Bobby Drake has had an interesting run as a character, but at his core, he has always been the goof of the team, someone who has a little too much fun as a superhero. In the original X-Men, he was the youngest and most immature member of the group. The biggest change to his character recently was the retcon of his sexuality with him coming out as gay. I think that it is key that an opening gay actor plays Bobby in the MCU. They can have his coming out story be part of the narrative or have him already out when he is introduced, I don’t think that matters too much, but regardless he needs to be way more fun than the version we got in the Fox X-Men films. If you want to get to know Bobby as he is now, Iceman (2017) is great way to get to know him.
Rogue is such a great character with so much depth, starting her journey as a villain in the Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) and Uncanny X-Men comics. The movie version of Rogue is a very different take on the character, making her more of a goth girl and closed off. One of the best parts of Rogue though in the comics is that she is closed off, but on the outside is a show-off and a bombshell. That juxtaposition is what makes her such an interesting character, and what makes her relationship with Gambit so endearing. I need to see flying and super-strength rouge in green and yellow with the bomber jacket on the big screen.
Gambit is one of the most fun X-Men of the 90’s era. He is a ham and loves the ladies. He also has a soft side though, loving his cats. The biggest thing that the MCU needs to get right though, is his powers. Tough Gambit is best known for turning cards into bombs, his kinetic energy powers are so much more complex than just throwing cards. The writers and directors being inventive with his powers will be a key to getting his character right. Mr. and Mrs. X is a great mini-series to get to know both Rogue and Gambit.
Illyana Rasputin is the badass little sister of Colossus. She is my favorite character from the New Mutants comics. She was in the New Mutants movie in an okay adaption. I do not blame Anya Taylor-Joy however, but the writers and director. Magik could be a fan-favorite character for the MCU if done right for fans of all kind. The current run on New Mutants (2020) has some really fun moments with Magik that are a great introduction to who Illyana is as a character.
9. Emma Frost
Emma Frost is such a wonderful character that was one of few misses of X-Men: First Class. Emma may work under someone, but she is no one’s underling. Emma Frost is someone who is always planning and scheming. She is one of the mutant leaders in the comics that sits between Magneto and Professor X ideologically. She wants to fight for her fellow mutant, but also doesn’t mind making a little profit along the way. Emma Frost is a character that has so much swagger that even if you hate what she is doing, you can’t help but love her. Marauders (2019) is a wonderful series in general, but helps you to get to know the scheming White Queen.
10. Rachel Summers
Rachel Summers is the only mutant on this list that has yet to be adapted to the silver screen. Rachel Summers is a complex character to adapt, due to her time travel/alternate reality related back story. A lot of ground work would need to be laid with mutants in the MCU before she can enter, but she is such a fun and powerful character, I need to see her on the screen. Her friendship with Kitty Pryde is one of my favorites and her sort of mother-daughter relationship with Jean is fun to see. For a modern look at her character, check out X-Factor (2020).
I will end by saying that the Fox X-Men movies had some great highlights, but at times definitely failed to capture the fun of the X-Men. If the MCU can embrace this fun AND the mutant metaphor, they will be on their way to success.