A Call to Action (Figures): Where Have All the X-Men Gone? (Part 2)

Part 1 of this article was released last Wednesday, which you can read here. If you don’t got time for that, the quick recap is that I’m doing an in-depth analysis of the rumor that Marvel has been skimping on the X-Men merchandising to try to get their licenses back from 20th Century Fox. A look at the Marvel Universe, Marvel Legends, and Marvel Select toylines since circa 2008 showed that the breakdown in action figures (I’m excluding other merchandising because I know about action figures and don’t know about t-shirts, etc. For more on that, check out this great article on io9) is 58.4% Marvel (all properties Marvel still has film rights to), 22.1% X-Men, 5.1% Fantastic Four, and 13.7% Spiderman. I also explored a few alternative explanations for the lack of figures, before I got to the most convincing piece of evidence.

Since 2008, Marvel has produced action figure lines in support of Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, Thor, Thor: The Dark World, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Captain American: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Amazing Spiderman, The Amazing Spiderman 2, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and The Wolverine. Conspicuous by their absence are the two latest X-Men team movies: X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

A few of the Marvel movies figures.

We can spend all day arguing about why Marvel isn’t merchandising the X-Men movies. Personally, I’m not convinced that Marvel’s objective is to get the licenses back, but think that there may be a degree of incompetence that’s contributing to this as much as anything else. But there’s evidence to say beyond the shadow of a doubt that Marvel is giving the characters they have the movie licenses for a hell of a lot more attention.

I’d say it’s a…Longshot. Or at least that correlation does not equal causation.

Whatever their reasoning, this is a bad choice. For one thing, if they are trying to get their movie rights back, this isn’t an effective strategy. In fact, First Class grossed $146,405,371 and Days of Future Past grossed $233,914,986 without merchandising, while X-Men Origins: Wolverine grossed $179,883,016 and The Wolverine grossed $132,550,960 with merchandising. In other words, lack of merchandising didn’t harm either movie that didn’t have it. They actually made more money than the last two X-Men movies that did have action figures. Marvel could have had more of it if they’d gotten behind those movies. Sure, they would’ve split it with 20th Century Fox, but it would still be worth more money than not making the action figures. And isn’t making the most money the objective for any film studio? (I don’t believe it should be, but I believe it is.)

The only figure worth getting from X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

The same way Marvel’s merchandising is losing money by excluding Black Widow and other female hero Scarlett Witch (how are there only two after this many movies? And a shout out to the Black Widow cosplay protest, which is awesome!) from much of their merchandising, they’re losing money by not supporting the X-Men films.

The only X-Man Marvel is willing to Merchandise.

I reached out to the press team at Marvel for a comment about what’s going with the lack of X-figures and other merchandise on May 27th and have received no response at the time of this writing.

No matter what Marvel’s trying to accomplish by losing this money, they are frustrating me and others, both as superhero and action fans. It’s not in anyone’s best interest to stop production of action figures of popular characters in support of financially successful movies, and does not come off in a way that flatters Marvel.

A Call to Action (Figures) is a weekly column published on Wednesdays, chronicling my rants and raves about all things action figure. Next week I’ll be talking about the rise of video game action figures!

Did I get it right? Will Marvel make action figures in support of X-Men: Apocalypse next year? Let me know in the comments!

By Bryan Stewart

Bryan first discovered an appreciation for action figures at an early age, setting up elaborate GI Joe ant hill attacks, complete with firework pyrotechnics. Due to the high injury rate for the Joes, replacements were a constant necessity.


  1. Here’s a theory, which of course is my own opinion and nothing has officially been said, but someone is probably going to go all over the Internet and say Marvel said it:

    Marvel isn’t making action figures outside of the Marvel Studios movies because their action figure partners (Hasbro, DST, etc.) can’t make figures for ALL Marvel’s blockbusters AND other studio’s movies like X-Men. They can only make enough figures to support Marvel’s movies without completely saturating the market with Marvel figures, since there are so many Marvel movies each year.

    Thinking deeper on it, it really seems like this could be possible. Past years at SDCC Hasbro has said that they can’t make many of the comic book Legends people want because they need to make Legends lines that support the Marvel movies. Though, they are still trying to release the comic book figures in some way, they can’t release a full line of them because then they would miss out on say, Ant-Man for example.

    I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on this theory. It really makes sense in my eyes.

    1. That sounds depressing, but pretty likely. I wish they’d give each movie its own line, and just like the comics line do what they’re going to do. Of course, that’s not the most profitable thing, so they never will.

  2. Well, personally and as part of the scientific community, I think several parents have lumped the X-men line of action figures in with childhood vaccinations, in the sense that both are the root causes of autism. These gluten free fanatics fear that such heroic and epic figures may begin a cycle of violence and neurological programming that will render their children autistic serial killers. Parents these days ugh

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