When it was announced a few weeks ago that Disney was moving to purchase the entertainment parts of 20th Century FOX, fans of Marvel were thrown for a loop. There are a few extra players still in the mix here and there, but at this point, the rights to the main characters of the Marvel-verse are owned by either one or the other of these companies. So, what would it mean for 20th Century FOX's X-Men films if the merger went through? Now our first X-Men spin-off is officially happening since the announcement, and it gives us a clue of what sort of films FOX is betting Disney will want to keep around once everyone is under one roof.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the newest film, which has been working under the codename "143" is actually the next stand-alone X-Men spin-off, featuring Ellen Page's character, Kitty Pryde.
143 is a code name for the project which sources say will focus on the character Kitty Pryde, a mutant who can phase through objects. The character was played by Ellen Page in 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand and 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past.
It was previously reported that Deadpool director Tim Miller had moved to start scripting a new X-Men spin-off back at the beginning of January. The Hollywood Reporter reveals this is, in fact, that project and Miller will be teaming up with Brian Michael Bendis, who is one of the major authors in the comic book world.
The code name gives a bit of a hint to where the story might be drawing from as well:
The project's code name is a reference to Uncanny X-Men No. 143, one of the earliest Pryde stories and her first solo adventure in which she faces a demon alone in the X-Mansion. The issue, by her creators Chris Claremont and John Byrne, was published in 1981.
Why would this project be one that 20th Century FOX is banking will hold even after a Disney merger? Because though the Marvel Cinematic Universe at Disney has been absolutely dominant at the box office and in the pop culture wars, there's one place where their competitors, the DC Extended Universe over at Warner Brothers scooped them completely, and that was in getting the first female superhero to the big screen.
While Marvel has counterpunched Warner Brother's Wonder Woman with Thor in November and now Black Panther this weekend, there's no denying the DCEU took home a win – Wonder Woman finished third in the overall box office for 2017, behind only Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Beauty and the Beast. Marvel is now racing to play catch up with the twice-delayed Captain Marvel film in 2019, and finally hiring a writer for the should-have-been-greenlit-in-2012 Black Widow. Being handed another female-driven stand-alone already in the works when they get the keys to 20th Century FOX's studios later this year will certainly be a nice bonus.
The only question that fans have is why Kitty Pryde and not the character Storm? With the huge media storm around Black Panther at a fever pitch, one would think 20th Century FOX would try to take advantage and announce a Storm stand alone, especially since she eventually marries T'Challa in the comics.
But Kitty Pryde comes with a background of her own, one none of the Marvel films from any studio have yet to grapple with: She's openly bisexual. A Kitty Pryde film could include the first superhero to be shown in an LGBT relationship on screen. Page, who plays her, is openly gay herself, making this an attractive option to have in the works for both the film's assumed star, and for Marvel to make good on their claims of wanting a more inclusive world of superheroes.