7 X-Men Storylines That Would Make Great Television Shows

Fans of the X-Men franchise have been blessed (or cursed, depending on how you look at it), with nine X-Men films and the 10th, Logan, is slated for release on March 3rd of this year. This year will also see the release of the first live-action X-Men television show: FX’s Legionwhich focuses on the relatively obscure X-character David Haller, the schizophrenic son of Professor X. In addition, Fox recently announced that it ordered a pilot for a new, untitled X-Men show. The plot is very vague at this point, but in the 50+ years of history with these characters, there’s a wealth of great story lines from which to pull. Here are 7 X-Men story lines that would probably make for some great television. (Oh, and if you haven’t read the comics, spoilers maybe?)

1. The Phoenix/Dark Phoenix Saga

Chris Claremont is responsible for breathing life into Uncanny X-Men and The Dark Phoenix saga is arguably his best contribution to the title. So for fans, this would naturally make a great storyline to bring to television. A series that put Jean Grey at the center of the story, focusing on her history, her place on the team, her eventual rise to become the most powerful of the X-Men and her ultimate corruption and death would make for a compelling show. In addition, the comic storyline dives into the rest of the team, how they respond to seeing their friend and teammate turn evil and how they respond to her death and the moral repercussions of defending a friend after she’s committed an egregious crime. And most important, a Dark Phoenix television series could help retcon the atrocity of X-Men: The Last Stand, which totally gets the storyline wrong. If the comic can literally retcon Jean’s death a few years after The Dark Phoenix Saga, we should be able to wash that disgusting Last Stand taste from our mouths.

2. Weapon X/Team X

While the 90s cartoon show did touch on this storyline in the episode “Weapon X, Lies and Videotape,” the general public is probably most familiar with the Weapon X history from the other astonishingly bad film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The core of Team X – an all-mutant CIA black ops team, is ripe for an action-based television show. While focusing on the team’s missions, they can also start to question their superiors, getting flashbacks from their past lives that had been wiped by Weapon X, and ultimately tracking down the clandestine organization that created them. Another feather in the Team X cap is that, besides Wolverine, the story does not rely on heavily established characters in the film series, so it really could exist on its own. Unless, of course, a lot of people happen to love those famous characters Mastodon, Silver Fox, and the mighty Kestrel.

3. Mutant Massacre

Outside of Magneto and maybe Apocalypse, Mr. Sinister is one of the more interesting X-Men villains (not to take anything away from the mad genius that is Arcade but, they have some lame villains). Mr. Sinister’s obsession with Cyclops and the ultimate desire to get he and Jean Grey to swap spit so that they would produce the “perfect mutant” would be a great central good/evil theme for the whole series. At the height of their feud comes Mutant Massacre, another Chris Claremont classic which focuses on a war battle between The Marauders and The X-Men after the former attacked the underground mutant group The Morlocks. Mutant Massacre was a big success when it came out and the long time fans of Uncanny X-Men might appreciate seeing this story arc come to life.

4. Astonishing X-Men: Gifted

How about we take back all of X-Men: The Last Stand? Astonishing is a new title that sprung from the mind of Joss Whedon. His entire run on the series – which spans the arcs Gifted, Dangerous, Torn, and Unstoppable, and is chock full of Whedon’s brillance and sharp observations about these characters. Gifted introduces the idea of a “mutant cure,” which was cannibalized for The Last Stand, but is an idea that has big implications in the mutant world. The story also has real-world implications; the metaphor connecting curing mutants and trying to “cure” people of the LGBTQ community resonates loudly in our modern politcal landscape. The examination of each character’s decision when faced with this potential cure would make for some pretty compelling television. And of course in our dream world it is directed by Whedon too!

5. Messiah CompleX/Messiah War

House of M was the single most devastating thing to happen in the X-Men universe, the total decimation of the mutant population from millions down to just 198. It was an enormous change the the world, but it gave rise to an even bigger moment: the birth of the first new mutant. This event sent shockwaves through mutant community, and also sent every group of mutants, good and bad, after this single child. A television show focusing entirely around the battle for this child could last for multiple seasons. But, the really intriguing part of the whole thing comes from the aftermath: Cable, traveling into the future with this child, being hunted by Bishop. Imagine a gruff old man, solely responsible for a child who represents the hope for the whole mutant race, being chased further and further into an unknown, desolate future by a time-traveling bounty hunter.  Taken out of the X-Men universe, that sounds like a pretty incredible premise for a television show, but in the X-Men universe it has much more significance.

6. Giant-Size X-Men

There’s something so appealing about stories that focus on assembling a team to fight an enemy. It’s those origin stories that suck us in and provide the precise motivation our characters desire to head out on their journey. While the original team of X-Men are some of the most beloved mutant characters ever, they started out as a pretty homogenous team of All-American teenagers (with mutant powers, of course). It wasn’t until the Giant-Size X-Men era where the team took on an international feel that is more of a reflection of the times we live in. Let’s find out what happens when 7 mutants from 7 different countries are plucked out of obscurity to save the world from the mutants that would do harm to the human race. It’s a veritable Real World version of the X-Men universe.

7. New X-Men: Academy X

Imagine a Hogwarts where all the students are mutants and they are training to control their mutant powers. That’s what Academy X is like. This storyline focuses on a lot of new teenage mutants that are enrolled in The Xavier Institute For Higher Learning. They are broken into different battle squads that are each overseen by an adult mutant (for example, The Hellions are led by Emma Frost, The Corsairs are led by Cyclops). This storyline has all the makings of a solid high school sci-fi drama, pitting teams against each other, exploring the awkward teenage romance that we all suffered through in high school, except we couldn’t teleport or move things with our mind. In addition, it feels like the one storyline that could actually happen, as it focuses on established characters that have not yet been mined for the cinematic universe. It would probably be much easier to get this off the ground because it would not rely on characters who are so intrinsically tied to certain actors at this point, thanks to the films.

These are just seven options in a long history of great storytelling. It’s about time we got a great X-Men television show, even if it is just a live-action version of the 90s cartoon (without Jubilee please!). Which X-Men storylines would you want to see on your home screen?


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