To comic book fans, X-Men is one of the most fruitful franchises in the Marvel stable. Not only have the heroes that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created in 1962 launched numerous other teams, including X-Factor and the New Mutants, but many of its characters have gone on to star in their own solo series, including Storm, Cable, and, of course, Wolverine. But that’s not been the case for the mutants’ movie counterparts. While Wolverine has enjoyed a trio of solo movies of wildly different quality, and Deadpool’s third outing is in the works, the X-Men on screen have been largely relegated to being team players.
Of course, 20th Century Fox wanted to create more solo movies after X-Men Origins: Wolverine, including stand-alone adventures for Magneto and Professor X. However, between Wolverine’s poor performance, itself preceded by the lackluster X-Men: The Last Stand three years earlier, solo projects were set aside in favor of the prequel X-Men: First Class. The success of First Class renewed interest in the team, allowing for three more sequel films with the new cast, as well as The New Mutants. And with this interest came again plans for solo movies, including an adventure for Hank McCoy aka the Beast, played by Nicholas Hoult.
The Beast movie never came to fruition, and Holt wrapped his take on the character with the disappointing Dark Phoenix. But a Reddit user has leaked the script to r/MarvelStudiosSpoilers, giving us a glimpse of the furry mutant’s planned movie. Written by Byron Burton, based on a story he developed with X-Men veteran John Ottman, X-Men: Fear the Beast pits Hank against classic baddie the Wendigo. The movie also features the lineup introduced in X-Men: Apocalypse, as an early Danger Room sequence gives Jubilee, Jean Grey, Storm, and Cyclops a chance to show off their powers.
Opening with an appropriately literary quote from Samuel Johnson, Fear the Beast finds McCoy contacted by desperate colleague Dr. Paul Cartier, who has been cursed to transform into the monstrous Wendigo after eating human flesh. As McCoy travels to northern Canada to help Cartier, he must come to terms with his own animalistic side. And, of course, Wolverine shows up.
X-Men: Fear the Beast represents just another missed opportunity for Fox’s X-Men. Despite the overall mixed reviews given to Apocalypse, many loved the idea of a young X-Men team in the 1980s, the team’s comic-book heyday. Fear the Beast would have let us spend more time in that era and fleshed out one of the most important mutants. But it was shelved instead for Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants, ending the Fox run on a down note.
Although Disney has proven itself willing to devote resources to lesser-known characters, it has been taking its time bringing the X-Men to the MCU. A few mutants have made themselves known, most notably Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan and Namor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but the proper team has yet to appear. When the X-Men do show up in the MCU, Beast will likely be among them, as he is a founding member of the comic book team. But will he get his own solo movie? If the MCU continues to follow its comic book roots, the answer is probably, yes.