The X-Men film franchise owes a deep debt to X-Men: The Animated Series, without which there likely never would have been the fan support/demand necessary to usher the X-Men movies into existence. However, ever since Bryan Singer introduced the world to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and the rest the franchise hasn’t really looked back, content to keep cranking out movies and not care so much about TV, where a couple of new X-Men animated shows have come and gone without much fanfare (although Wolverine and The X-Men was actually quite good). All of this despite the fact that an ensemble-based concept like X-Men almost lends itself better to TV than film.
At long last, Fox is finally trying to take advantage of that, recently ordering the pilot for a live-action X-Men TV series set in the universe of the films.
After Apocalypse, the X-Men movies have seemingly hit a financial and creative wall. Deadpool might be the new steward of the franchise, especially with Jackman hanging up the claws after Logan. As such, it makes sense to explore what can be done with the franchise on TV, especially with DC’s still-growing Arrowverse and Marvel’s own run of success on Netflix (and, to a lesser extent, ABC). This doesn’t mean the end of the X-Men movies, just that Fox is finally open to extending the universe of the movies into live-action TV. However, what do we really know about this potential new show? And what does it have to do with Legion, the other X-Men TV show that’s apparently an X-Men TV show in name only?
Let’s break down what we know:
1. The only thing that’s been ordered at this point is a pilot. There’s no guarantee this will ever make it on the air.
Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer, but it’s important to start off by remembering this is not like one of those Marvel shows on Netflix where when we first hear about it we know we’re talking about something which will get a full season of episodes. Nope. That might fly on streaming, but the broadcast networks don’t like to just hand out full-season orders if they don’t have to. So, whatever this X-Men show is going to be it’s going to have to go through the traditional TV pilot season to get there.
2. If the pilot does get picked up, the show will air on Fox, and have no more than 13 episodes per season.
And cue the ever-increasing list of strong genre shows which were canceled before their time by Fox. So, yes, the network that canceled Firefly will be responsible for this X-Men series. To be fair, though, that was a long time ago, and Fox is likely to be far more patient with X-Men since superhero properties are kind of a big deal in movies and on TV right now, or hadn’t you heard? In fact, Fox also has a DC comics property, Black Lightning from Arrowverse uber producer Greg Berlanti, in development right now.
As for the episode count, the plan is to make a heavily serialized series without any obvious filler episodes, and the producers think 10-13 episodes is the ideal length for such a show.
3. The plot revolves around mutant kids on the run from society.
Here’s the semi-official logline: “The untitled project revolves around two ordinary parents who discover their children possess mutant powers. Forced to go on the run from a hostile government, the family joins with an underground network of mutants and must fight to survive.”
4. Bryan Singer will direct the pilot.
In addition to directing the pilot, Singer will also serve as executive producer, repeating the role he played in helping to get shows like House and Battle Creek off the ground before going away and trusting others to take over. Make no mistake, though. This is not Bryan Singer’s show. Due to his connections to the X-Men movies he always has some say in what is done with the franchise, and with this particular series he has chosen to help usher it into existence. However, the person actually creating the show, writing the pilot script and due to step in to handle day-to-day duties should the show go to series is Matt Nix. Speaking of which…
5. The guy who created Burnt Notice is creating the show.
So, this isn’t Matt Nix’s first rodeo. He also created or helped to develop TV shows like The Good Guys, The Comedians, Complications and ABP, a cop drama which will soon premiere on Fox. He has been described as a “die-hard X-Men fan
6. It will somehow connect to the movies.
When pressed for exact details at the Televisions Critics Association Winter Press Tour, Nix explained:
“A fan of the movies but also the comics would not be disoriented at all as to where this fits in the mythology,” he said. “If you look at the movies, which take place from — they started in 2003 to now — they don’t all line up perfectly. I’m not slavishly fitting them into a particular slot. But at the same time, if you like the world of the movies, there are definite nods to the movies. It exists in the same general universe.”
The inevitable follow-up question was whether or not this was sort of like Agents of SHIELD and if there’d be any direct tie-ins, to which Nix responded:
“In a general way, it acknowledges that events like the events that have happened in movies have happened. But it’s not up to date. It’s still evolving so we’ll see how much that comes in. It’s certainly ‘Since this happened in X-Men: Apocalypse, all of these things are happening,’ which I think is cool but they’ve already done that.”
7. It will have nothing to do with FX’s Legion
Nix’s new X-Men series has often described as the first foray for the franchise into live-action TV, but that’s not true. Noah Hawley’s forthcoming FX series Legion is technically the first live-action X-Men show. The main character played by Dan Stevens on the show is actually Charles Xavier’s son in the comics and just might be the most powerful mutant in the world. The difference, though, is Legion is said to be an X-Men series in name only, completely unconnected to the movies and not overly beholden to the source material. So, just because Legion is built around a character who is actually Professor Xavier’s son in the comics doesn’t mean we should ever expect Patrick Stewart to show up on the show.
Legion is its own thing, existing on an island by itself, and this new X-Men series will reportedly have nothing to do with it.
8. There will be a mixture of new and familiar characters
As Nix explained:
“[I get to invent] some. It’s designed to sidestep questions like, ‘Where is Wolverine?’ You have to answer those questions. I didn’t want to do anything where it’s like, ‘Wolverine is just off-screen.’ It exists in a world where those questions are answered without needing to name a lot of names or spend a lot of time dwelling on that issue. Within that, there are a certain amount of [familiar] characters that I can use and am using and then other characters I’m inventing — but everything is invented with a nod toward the existing mythology. … When I was pitching the show, I pitched some characters that appear nowhere in the mythology but the guys from Marvel, when I started describing them, all gave each other knowing nods where [they understood what I was doing].”