X-Men Could Join the MCU as 'Nephilites,' Not Mutants – Screen Rant

MCU fans desperately want Marvel to make plans for the X-Men’s movie debut, but a potential link to the Eternals could mean that’s already underway.
Warning: contains spoilers for Eternals: Thanos Rises #1!
Ever since Disney’s acquisition of the movie rights to the X-Men, fans have debated how mutants can enter the MCU. The X-Men comics are a huge franchise, boasting many characters who are already more famous and beloved than Iron Man was prior to his MCU debut. Marvel has been understandably reticent to simply drop mutants into existing continuity, but a recent comic raises the possibility that the MCU’s Phase Four could lay the groundwork to introduce the X-Men by connecting them to the Eternals.
Eternals: Thanos Rises #1 is a special one-shot from Kieron Gillen and Dustin Weaver depicting the Eternals’ ideological struggle over whether they should be allowed to interbreed. The Eternals are superhuman beings created by the Celestials to safeguard Earth and manage their other artificial race, the Deviants. Though they often look and behave like superheroes, they’re actually a complex biological machine, and no Eternal is surplus to requirements. They’re all immortal – reborn on death – and their family structures (and even personalities) are designed to drive them to fulfill their design. Because of this, Eternals don’t breed like other species… or at least they’re not supposed to.
Related: The X-Men Finally Pick a Villain Perfect for Their MCU Debut
The comic serves as an origin story for Thanos – the ultimate project of his father Mentor and mother Sui-San, and the tragic success of their attempt to create a true Eternal child. This is something Eternals can’t usually do, though that doesn’t mean they can’t create offspring. In fact, Eternals can breed with other species such as humans and Deviants, creating beings known as Nephilites – “enhanced offspring” who are more than mortal but far, far less than Eternal. As these comics redefine the Eternals prior to their appearance in the MCU, fan attention is laser-focused on those ideas the story brings to the fore, and it’s possible that Nephilities are stressed here as the beginning of a plan to merge them with the idea of mutants in movie canon.
In the comics, mutants decidedly aren’t Nephilites, but rather Homo Superior, the next evolutionary step for mankind. But the MCU has a history of fudging this kind of designation when needed, such as when the Collector and Grandmaster were seemingly downgraded from their cosmic role in the comics, or when Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘s Ego described himself as a Celestial. Depicting mutants as humans who gain powers from an Eternal lineage would be an easy way to establish the concept in the context of the movies Marvel has planned in the near future. Plus, given humanity doesn’t know about the Eternals, mutants could be treated much the same as they are in the comics, randomly manifesting powers in a world that hates and fears them.
Turning mutants into Nephilites wouldn’t even be a significant betrayal of comics canon. The comics have established that some mutants were known as Cheyarafim and Neyaphem in the distant past (i.e. 1,000,000 BC), and even that they are the source of much prejudice against the supernatural, back when they were called “witchbreed.” Even the evolutionary explanation for mutation isn’t core to the characters, who have also been depicted as the result of radiation, genetic tampering, and even Celestial intervention.
What it means to be a mutant has been flexible in Marvel’s past, and with the MCU now foregrounding the Eternals, it makes sense to merge Nephilites and mutants if it unlocks access to iconic characters like Wolverine, Storm, and Magneto. Whether this is the direction the MCU will choose for the X-Men is still to be seen, but fans will undoubtedly have their eyes glued to the Eternals comics in a continued effort to discern which ideas are there to lay groundwork for upcoming MCU decisions, and which are just there because they make for a great comic story.
Next: The X-Men’s Version of Thanos is Marvel’s Most Dangerous Villain
Robert Wood is a comics editor for Screen Rant and the author of ‘The False Elephant (and 99 Other Unreasonably Short Stories).’ He received his Master’s in English Literature from Lancaster University, and now happily spends his days applying it to Daredevil and the Hulk.

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