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X-Men, Deadpool unlikely to join MCU until at least 2021

For those freaking out over the prospect of the X-Men and Deadpool finally joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the wake of Disney formally taking control of the film and television assets of Fox, Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige has a few choice words: hold your horses, true believers.

Like you, we've been unreasonably excited about the formerly segregated heroes being freed up to play in the MCU's increasingly sprawling sandbox since the Disney/Fox deal officially closed at a minute past the stroke of midnight yesterday. It is, however, our professional duty to be big old party poopers by way of informing you that we're not going to see Wolverine pop up in an Avengers: Endgame post-credits sequence — or for that matter, in any Marvel Studios release any time in the near future. (via Collider)

Feige has been quite clear on Marvel's plans for their newly-acquired properties in the past, and in light of what we now know about the venerable studio's plans for the post-Endgame MCU, we can comfortably state that Logan, Wade, and the rest of the bunch won't pop up in an MCU offering in any capacity until 2021, at the very earliest. In a conversation in April of last year with The Playlist, Feige was asked directly if the deal with Fox "complicates" Marvel's plans for Phase 4, and he burst every balloon in the room with his response. "No, because any of that deal would take a while to get going and years from whenever and if ever it happens," he said, pouring a light drizzle of vinaigrette on that word salad. "So, certainly it won't impact the five movies we've announced, and it probably wouldn't impact anything for a handful of years after that. Because really, we're not thinking about that. We're thinking of delivering on what we promised. Any movie, especially for any characters we don't have the rights to yet until someone tells us we do, would be even further after that." 

It should be noted that this interview took place shortly before the release of Avengers: Infinity War, and in the intervening time period, Marvel Studios has announced even more projects than they had spoken about publicly at that time. Feige can be reasonably inferred to have been speaking of Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far From Home, which takes us up through July. At this point, we know of no fewer than six more MCU projects in active development: Doctor Strange 2, Black Panther 2, Black Widow, Shang-Chi, The Eternals, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. While the potential time frames for the release of the first four are anybody's guess, we know that Eternals is set to begin shooting this year, and that Guardians 3 isn't likely to enter production any time before early 2021, at which point newly reinstated director James Gunn should be finished with his work on The Suicide Squad for Warner Brothers and DC. 

While it's not outside the realm of possibility that a mutant or two could pop up in a cameo in, say, the Doctor Strange or Black Panther sequels, it seems highly unlikely that Marvel would shoehorn in rushed introductions to the iconic characters it's waited for so long to get its hands on. We know what you're thinking: "But Looper, isn't that exactly what they did with Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War?" To which we respectfully retort: no, not so much. Civil War directors Joe and Anthony Russo have gone on record stating that Spidey's inclusion in the film was always part of their plan, a plan which would have needed to be strenuously reworked if Marvel's shared custody arrangement with Sony had fallen through. They also made the excellent point that Spider-Man's origin story, having already been told in cinematic form twice, was familiar enough even to casual fans that his truncated introduction in Civil War felt appropriate.

Also, consider that the only former Fox property expected to join the MCU without being recast is Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool, as the star has discussed the direction that character's third cinematic outing will take as recently as earlier this year. As far as the X-Men are concerned, Feige is reportedly thinking Reboot City; iconic characters such as Charles Xavier, Magneto, Mystique, Nightcrawler, and the guy whose name rhymes with Polverine are expected to be recast with younger actors, and their origin stories retold or even revamped. Of course, casting in general is a time-consuming process, and casting Marvel-style — that is, ensuring that every role is cast as spot-on perfectly as humanly possible — even more so.

In addition to all of this (sorry, but we're taking our lead from Feige in our determination to burst every one of your balloons), the Fox-produced X-Men films have yet to run their course. The release of Dark Phoenix, which is widely expected to essentially put a cap on the nearly two-decade old franchise, is going ahead as scheduled post-merger; it's safe to say that no reshoots are forthcoming for the purpose of cramming a couple of Avengers into the mix. Meanwhile, the status of the really, truly, final Fox X-Men flick — the horror-tinged New Mutants — is about as up in the air as that last balloon we're chasing down with a pin. While principal photography has wrapped, the standard reshoots haven't yet taken place and aren't on the schedule anytime soon; it's been speculated that the movie, which has had a ridiculously troubled production to begin with, may eventually land on a streaming service like Disney+ or Hulu, the majority of which is now also owned by the House of Mouse.

So, while we're as psyched as you are for Deadpool to meet Peter Parker or Professor X to get into a staring contest with Doctor Strange, we must face the facts: it's not gonna happen for quite some time. But, we do know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the former Fox properties will eventually be integrated into the MCU, which we couldn't say with absolute certainty until 12:01 yesterday morning. We know it's frustrating, but just keep in mind that one virtue that Captain America told us every good soldier must have: patience.