Marvel Studios and Marvel comics come face-to-face at the Hellfire Gala, alongside other celebrity cameos.

Ever since Disney finalized its deal to buy 20th Century Fox, fans have wondered how the X-Men might be added to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Some of the most iconic Marvel characters ever, the X-Men movie rights were so valuable in the '90s that the publisher sold them to Fox in order to avoid bankruptcy. But that meant when Marvel created its own studio with 2008's Iron Man, they no longer had the ability to adapt their mutant characters. Now that all the pieces are in place again, how might MCU mastermind Kevin Feige and his team bring the X-Men into the big-screen fold? 

This question is particularly urgent because the MCU loves adapting recent comic book storylines, and the current era of X-Men comics is the most popular and critically acclaimed in decades. Starting with the 2019 events House of X and Powers of X, Marvel's mutants have banded together to form an independent nation-state on the living island of Krakoa. The X-Men and their allies are currently celebrating their ascendancy with the Hellfire Gala, a huge high-fashion party where the rest of the world has been invited to Krakoa to witness the power of mutant culture. 

Almost every major Marvel character is in attendance, from Captain America to Doctor Doom. But there is also a smattering of real-life celebrities who have been drawn into the comic. X-Men #21, the latest chapter of the Gala storyline that hit stores on Wednesday, brought all of the aforementioned threads together by having Feige himself appear at the Gala and strike up a conversation with Cyclops. It makes for a cute meta moment that directly nods to the uncertain relationship between the X-Men and the MCU. 

"So, what's your story?" Feige asks the X-Men captain.

"Well, it's complicated," Cyclops replies with a smile.

Kevin Feige, X-Men
Credit: Amy Sussman/FilmMagic; Marvel Comics

Complicated is right! That's the whole thing about the House of X era: Despite the zeitgeist-grabbing fresh take on these characters, the Krakoa set-up is also fueled by decades of Marvel comics history, and therefore would be difficult to adapt as the first story of emergent mutants in the MCU.

This is not the first time Marvel personnel have shown up on a comic. Jack Kirby and Stan Lee tried crashing the wedding of Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman in 1965's Fantastic Four Annual #3, and found themselves thrown out. Plus of course, we have the rich history of cameos by Marvel creators in Marvel movies -- Lee most prominently, but also longtime X-Men scribe Chris Claremont showed up in X-Men: The Last Stand and ground-breaking Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick showed up in Brie Larson's superhero debut. Claremont also makes an appearance in this week's issue.

Other celebrity appearances at the Hellfire Gala in X-Men #21 include Eminem, Marc Maron, Method Man, George R.R. Martin, Patton Oswalt, and Meredith Salenger. Conan O'Brien pops up in Excalibur #21, which also hit stores on Wednesday. See if you can spot them all!

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