X-Men fans hoping to see Wolverine, Professor X and the rest make their debuts in the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be waiting a “very long time”.
Disney, which owns Marvel Studios, owns the rights to the X-Men universe since it merged with 20th Century Fox.
But Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige says the next five years of Marvel films is already planned out – and doesn’t involve the X-Men.
“It’ll be a while,” Kevin told entertainment website iO9.
“Phase Four” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) begins after the release of Avengers: Endgame on 26 April.
Endgame will probably be the last we see of the characters and actors that have been the biggest part of the MCU so far – like Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man. He kicked off the whole thing with the first MCU film in 2008.
“It is two very distinct things and I hope they’ll feel very distinct,” Kevin told iO9 when asked how future Marvel films would compare to previous ones.
The Marvel Studios president says Marvel wants to continue telling stories with characters that the audience knows, as well as introducing characters that “even hardcore fans, comic fans, have barely known or barely heard of“.
Shang-Chi, a Marvel character who so far hasn’t really featured outside of the comics, is reportedly heading to the big screen soon.
The film will follow the Black Panther template, according to Deadline – focusing on Shang-Chi’s Asian-American heritage and featuring a largely Asian-American cast.
And The Eternals, a cosmic race who look like humans but are actually much further evolved, look likely to become Marvel’s next big thing.
You might have heard of one of them – Thanos. He’s an Eternal with the Deviant gene, which explains why he’s wreaked so much havoc in the Marvel universe.
Angelina Jolie and Kumail Nanjiani have been linked to The Eternals film so far.
As for Marvel characters we know, we can expect a Black Widow movie, as well as Black Panther 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3, to be part of Phase Four.
Which doesn’t leave much room for the X-Men right now.
Dark Phoenix, thought to be the final X-Men film featuring the core cast of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Sophie Turner, is out this summer.
There’s also a spin-off, The New Mutants, to be released at some point. But those will likely be the last X-Men films with 20th Century Fox involvement.
Deadpool is also now part of the Disney family, having previously been owned by Fox.
It’s unclear what will happen to planned 20th Century Fox films like Gambit, who’s part of the X-Men.
When asked how the Disney/Fox merger would affect the X-Men, Kevin said Marvel has been working on its five-year plan “before any of that was set”.
“Really it’s… less about specifics of when and where [the X-Men will appear] right now and more just the comfort factor and how nice it is that they’re home. That they’re all back.
“But it will be a very long time.”