One of the current hotly-debated topics regarding Avengers: Endgame ironically has nothing to do with the actual events of the film itself. Ever since the Disney-Fox merger deal was completed, Marvel fans have been discussing how Fox Marvel franchises like X-Men and Fantastic Four will first get introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Avengers: Endgame is understandably being looked at as a prime candidate for a first tease of the X-Men and F4 joining the MCU. However, any survey of fan opinion quickly reveals something pretty surprising: Marvel fans seem to be split right down the middle over whether or not Avengers: Endgame should tease the X-Men and Fantastic Four as part of its post-credits button scenes. Comicbook.com's Matt Mueller already did an extensive breakdown of why Endgame shouldn't include any X-Men references - now let's explore the opposing side, and detail why Avengers: Endgame can - and should - be our first tease of X-Men and Fantastic Four in the MCU!
Brave New World
While we know absolutely nothing about the finer points of the Avengers: Endgame's storyline, it's fair to assume that the film leave us in a different version of the MCU than the one Thanos decimated with his Infinity Gauntlet Snap. If that's the case, then one of the final obligations of Endgame would understandably be giving MCU fans a brief tease of what this brave new world is all about.
That process would include showing how the established MCU characters all find themselves facing new status quo after the events of both Infinity War and Endgame - as well as the development or evolution of certain elements we know would one day lead somewhere big (like Nova). However, it could also serve one final key purpose, which would give Marvel die-hards a major thrill...
If Endgame takes on the responsibility of providing an ending that lets fans get a brief peek at a new MCU status quo, then it's hard to identify good reason why to leave the X-Men and Fantastic Four out of those teases. It's understandable why some fans are currently worrying: no one wants to see a half-ass and rushed introduction to these characters, which Marvel fans have been waiting a decade to see onscreen alongside the Avengers. The thought of seeing versions of, say, Prof. X, or Magneto, or Reed Richards, or Dr. Doom who can't be fully shown onscreen because casting isn't officially done yet, doesn't really excite the mind.
However, if Endgame gives us a tease of what the new status quo of the MCU is all about, then there are hundreds of ways to tease the X-Men and Fantastic Four becoming part of that reconstituted universe, in a manner that would thrill die-hard fans without disrupting, confusing (or possibly even registering) with more casual viewers.
One idea that's been circulated is seeing a restored earth and hearing or seeing TV/Radio broadcasts that help tease the new MCU status quo (the buzzing media snippets being a stark contrast to the eerie emptiness and silence of the post-Snap Earth when the film begins). Those media broadcasts could be a cacophony of competing reports, which also contain a treasure-trove of Easter egg references. Again, references to the X-Men and Fantastic Four could be rolled off in any number of indirect ways - such as references to the Xavier School, Weapon X program, Future Foundation, Storm family, Baxter Building or various characters from X-Men and Fantastic Four, in their civilian guises.
A close second to this idea would be giving MCU fans a small visual cue, like seeing Nick Fury pull up to iconic locations like the Xavier Institute, or having a character driving through Manhattan where we see the former Avengers Tower being rebranded as the Baxter Building. Again, these are the sorts of references that don't even have to be the main focus of an Avengers: Endgame end credits scene, but would be another layer of insider knowledge that would spark months (if not years) of speculation and discussion, until the X-Men and Fantastic Four finally made their official MCU debt.
The best part of a subtle indirect reference to the X-Men and Fantastic Four in Avenger: Endgame is that there's plenty of time for Marvel Studios to pull it off. It's naive to think that Kevin Feige and his team haven't been speculating about and planning for this for quite some time - and there are certainly workarounds for any lingering contractual hangups between how Fox and Marvel can use these characters. With the final Fox X-Men movie Dark Phoenix arriving a month after Endgame, Marvel Studios coudl still thread the needle of giving a major spike to X-Men chatter, without causing an continuity confusion.
That's my take on the situation - let us know how you feel in the comments, or let me know directly @KofiOutlaw.
Avengers: Infinity War is now available on home video, and Captain Marvel is now in theaters. Upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universemovies include Avengers: Endgame on April 26th, and Spider-Man: Far From Home on July 5th.
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