• 15 Pieces Of Unused Concept Art From Marvel’s Forgotten Futures
    Sep 29, 2017

    Throughout Marvel’s history, heroes like the X-Men and Avengers have encountered a myriad of possible futures and alternate timelines. While some of those futures have been bright or hopeful, most of them have been heart-breaking tales of mankind’s total annihilation. When the promise of a new millennium ignited imaginations in the early 2000s, Marvel commissioned some of the hottest artists in comics to imagine what the future might hold for its world-famous superheroes. Over the course of four “Millennial Visions” specials, these artists came up with nearly 100 thrilling, tragic and utterly bizarre takes on the future of the Marvel Universe, freed from the bounds of continuity.

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    Now, CBR is taking a look back at these pieces of unused concept art from Marvel’s abandoned futures. In this list, we’ll be looking at futures involving X-Men, Marvel’s street-level heroes and the rest of the Marvel Universe. While none of these ever really came to fruition, some of these ideas directly influenced that era’s stories. Others made eerily accurate predictions about Marvel’s future that only recently came to pass. Regardless of their influence or accuracy, each of these futures remains a tantalizing look at what Marvel’s world could have, or might yet still, become.

    15. X-MEN: REBORN

    While Ethan Van Sciver and Geoff Johns redefined Green Lantern for the modern age in the mid-2000s, they offered their take on the X-Men in X-Men: Millennial Visions 2001. In the near-future of 2006, Apocalypse uses Charles Xavier’s psychic powers to activate the latent powers of 220,000 mutants. This incident killed Professor X, crippled Jean Grey and merged her with the mutant-detecting Cerebra. Amid rising anti-mutant sentiment, Storm became a villain in this world and flooded Washington D.C., and Angel reformed the Hellfire Club.

    With a broken Cyclops acting irresponsibly, Beast took his place as the X-Men’s calm center. That timeline’s X-Men also included the newly-married Gambit and Rogue, along with new recruits like the monstrous Morlock Litterbug and Electric Eve. Thanks to the new Weapon X Program, Wolverine was given adamantium-laced teeth and muscles, and Colossus’ organic metal skin was also coated in the unbreakable metal.


    With movies like The Terminator, pop culture is filled with futures where wars between humans and robots tore the world apart. In most of those stories, the robots are the bad guys, but that’s not the case in J.H. Williams III’ “Captain America: The Artificial American Dream.” In that Marvel Knights Millennial Visions 2001 story, a cybernetic Captain America became the face of the robot rights revolution.

    After humans and mutants made peace in that version of the Marvel Universe, Perks, “intelligent machines,” were developed and took over the menial tasks that humans didn’t want to do. After the machines began to feel and dream, humans went on the offensive and began attacking the robot’s peaceful protests. Inspired by the legend of the long-dead Captain America, the Perks created a battle-ready robot in his image to fight for a world where humans and machines could coexist.


    Since 2014, Jane Foster has broken boundaries in the Marvel Universe and thrilled fans as the Goddess of Thunder in The Mighty Thor. In Colleen Doran’s X-Men: Millennial Visions 2001 story, the X-Men’s Storm became the Goddess of Thunder in another timeline. After becoming disillusioned with the mutants’ never-ending struggles, Ororo Munroe spent more time riding nature’s most destructive winds.

    In the midst of the raging storms around them, Storm and Thor, the avenging God of Thunder, began to grow close. The Norse goddess Tarene, who once dated Thor, took notice and attacked the mutant. In the battle’s wake, Storm picked up Tarene’s hammer, and the spirit of the fallen goddess possessed her. Storm transformed into the Goddess of Thunder, with a hammer and new powers that were on par with the might of Thor and his Mjolnir.


    Thanks to a continuing resurgence in prominence that includes Netflix shows like Luke Cage and The Defenders, Power Man and Iron Fist are far more well-known today than they were in the early 2000s. That didn’t stop Lee Ferguson from reimagining the duo in Marvel Knights Millennial Visions 2001. In that world, Danny Rand, the Iron Fist, was crippled in battle and went into seclusion.

    Without his support, his former partners Luke Cage and Colleen Wing were killed fighting weapons smugglers. Their other partner, a battle-damaged Misty Knight, went to Danny for help in rebuilding her bionic arm. With a number of upgrades and new weapons, Knight became the new, bio-mechanical Iron Fist. Driven by revenge and grief, Danny used the Rand Corporation’s resources to create a nuclear-powered suit of armor and became the new Power Man in honor of his dead friend.


    In both comics’ Marvel Universe and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the threat of Loki compelled Marvel’s mightiest heroes to join together and form the Avengers. In Marvel Universe 2001 Millennial Visions, Chris Batista created a world where the children of the original team formed a new generation of Avengers to fight Loki once again. After Loki became a techno-wizard and destroyed Minneapolis, the Thor of the future, Dargo Ktor, lost his hammer and went into hiding.

    Years later, Tannan Six, one of Loki’s shock-troopers, stole Thor’s hammer and Captain America’s shield from Loki’s trophy room. While on the run, he ran into Tatiana Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch’s descendant. Together, the pair joined a rejuvenated Thor, Iron Man’s descendant Thaddeus Stark, Wasp’s descendant Deva van Dyne and the immortal Hercules to take on Loki as the new Avengers.


    In the early 2000s, Rogue starred in X-Treme X-Men, which followed a team that was searching for the diaries of the late precognitive mutant Destiny. While those books were destroyed before they could ever be used for much in the Marvel Universe, that quest dramatically reshaped Rogue’s life in Alex Maleev and Bill Rosemann’s entry in X-Men: Millennial Visions 2001. In that world, the X-Men learned that Destiny’s partner Mystique had faked the diaries to distract the X-Men.

    Despite that, Rogue absorbed Destiny’s future-telling abilities from her repeated exposure to the leftover skin cells and hair on Destiny’s belongings. In a possible nod to Maleev’s co-creation Jessica Jones, Rogue left the X-Men to become a private eye. Using her precognitive powers and her newfound love for the thrill of the hunt, this Rogue tried to search for the truth in between her false apocalyptic visions.


    While most of the Millennial Visions entries focused on the future, a few of them rearranged the Marvel Universe in a more contemporary fashion. In Marvel Knights Millennial Visions 2001, Ryan Bodenheim and Buddy Scalera re-imagined Elektra as a cyborg assassin in “Elektra: Death on Two Legs.” While Marvel’s Elektra has famously been resurrected from the dead by the mystical ninja group, the Hand, this world’s Elektra was an antisocial high school student who died at her prom.

    Thanks to a group led by General Nick Fury, Elektra was brought back as a fourth-generation Elektra-Class NinjaBot who was designed for covert European missions. On her first outing, she was tasked with assassinating Victor Von Doom, that world’s Doctor Doom. Although her superiors told her to abort her mission at the last second, she didn’t listen or didn’t care, and caused an international incident by killing the Latverian monarch.

    8. X-MEN: UTOPIA

    In most alternate realities, the X-Men’s future is dark, depressing or deeply disturbing. In a rare optimistic twist, that’s not the case in J.H. Williams III’ “X-Men: Utopia,” from 2000’s X-Men: Millennial Visions. In that world, Charles Xavier’s dream of a world where humans and mutants co-exist came to pass after the X-Men stopped a presidential assassination attempt. Led by a middle-aged Cyclops and Jean Grey the X-Men became a nationwide police force where mutants, humans and robots work side-by-side.

    In this world, Storm took over as the headmaster of Xavier’s school and led a team that included Nate Grey, an alternate reality version of Cable, and the hallucination-causing Psychedelia. While that was a brighter future for most X-Men, Wolverine suffered a massive brain injury that enhanced his violent tendencies. Disgusted with the new world order, Wolverine took Magneto’s place as a mutant supremacist and the X-Men’s chief rival.


    While the Fantastic Four are still in the midst of their lengthy absence in the Marvel Universe, they had a devastating impact in the world of Liam Sharp’s entry in Marvel Universe 2001 Millennial Visions. In “The Thing: Vurtuvurse,” almost all of society was part of an immersive virtual reality program called the Vurturverse. Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman lived in eternal wedded bliss in this world, where the avatars of the living and the dead intermingled.

    When the Human Torch tried to join the Vurturverse, something went wrong. Due to his unique cellular makeup, he killed eight billion others the moment he was “plugged in.” In the wake of this incident, Ben Grimm, the Thing, gained some of the Human Torch’s pyro-kinetic powers in the digital world. Even though he couldn’t move in the real world, the Thing lived on as a virtual hero for over a century.


    In the real world, 2004 marked the release of Sam Raimi’s superhero classic Spider-Man 2. In Kilian Plunkett’s entry for Marvel Universe 2001 Millennial Visions, that year marked Spider-Man’s death. In that world, the Sinister Six, a group of Spider-Man’s villains, grew into the Noxious Nine with the addition of the Rhino, Scorpion and Carnage.

    In the wake of a battle between the Nine and Spider-Man at a nuclear power plant, Carnage, Mysterio, Electro and Spider-Man all died. The other surviving villains, including Doctor Octopus, Vulture and the Lizard, were all mutated in a blast of the plant’s radiation. In an ironic twist, each of these animal-themed villains gained a new beastly appearance based on their respective animal namesakes. Some characters were also permanently bonded with their equipment, so Doctor Octopus’ robotic tentacles became more natural and squid-like.


    A few years after his well-received run on X-Force ended, Adam Pollina offered his take on the X-Men’s final days in 2000’s X-Men: Millennial Visions. In “Remnants,” the mutant-hunting Sentinels decided that the best way to exterminate all mutants was to wipe out the entire human race. Despite the combined efforts of the Avengers and the X-Men, only three heroes survived to make a valiant last stand.

    After his wife, Rogue, and their children were killed, Colossus smashed his way through his grief and despair. During the Avengers’ final battle, the mighty Thor sacrificed his life to save Boom Boom, the explosive young X-Force member. The group’s last member was Chamber, a young mutant with psionic powers that consumed most of his torso. With a shaky plan to deactivate every Sentinel at once, those last three X-Men were the last, best hope of a fallen world.


    In sharp contrast to the oppressive pessimism that permeated through most of these timelines, a few “Millennial Visions” took a more comedic approach to Marvel’s characters. One of those entries was Amanda Conner’s “Black Widow: Children, Children” in Marvel Knights Millennial Visions 2001. In the far-off future of 2017, that world’s genetically-engineered Black Widow, Galina Tsarfin, lived up to her namesake and had 123 children.

    In the Russian government’s effort to create “The Strongest Spider,” they used a combination of Black Widow and Spider-Man’s DNA to create children who would hopefully have superpowers. In another nod to her namesake, this Black Widow killed the scientists who came up with this idea and turned her attention to her new charges. While one child already had four eyes and spider-like teeth, the other 122 were still too young to display any special abilities.


    In the late 1990s, the villain-turned-Avenger Hawkeye joined Thunderbolts and tried to lead the titular group of former villains onto the right track. In Pablo Raimondi and Bill Rosemann’s entry in Marvel Universe 2001 Millennial Visions, Hawkeye tried to reform criminals through less conventional means. After successfully rehabilitating that first group of semi-reformed villains, he tried to guide another group with the help of the mind-controlling Ringmaster.

    Hawkeye began forming a team out of some of Marvel’s lesser villains, including Whirlwind, Stilt-Man, the Wrecker and Batroc the Leaper. With the Ringmaster’s help, he mind-wiped them into submission and gathered more prominent villains like Taskmaster and the Absorbing Man. The new, expanded Thunderbolts roster fought among themselves, and Hawkeye began to wonder if Ringmaster was trying to take over the team. To make matters worse, he also notice signs that Ringmaster’s programming was starting to wear off.


    While most of the “Millennial Visions” never amounted to much, Jim Calafiore’s entry in 2000’s X-Men: Millennial Visions predicted a shocking number of X-Men tales. While possessed by the Shadow King, Wolverine killed Professor X, but was crippled by Xavier’s psychic defenses. Driven by guilt, he became the X-Men’s new mentor. His team included an older Nightcrawler and the healer Plague, who absorbed the mutant-killing Legacy Virus.

    In an idea that predicted the time-tossed X-Men: Blue heroes, a teenage Kitty Pryde was plucked from the past and joined this modern team. Apocalypse’s son, Armageddon, joined these X-Men, just like his Marvel Universe counterpart Genesis did a decade later. Long before Colossus became one of the Phoenix Five, the Phoenix Force took over his lifeless body to join the X-Men in this world. This entry also introduced Nightcrawler’s daughter Nocturne, who starred in the long-running alternate reality series Exiles.


    In the early 2000s, Deadpool was popular enough to star in his own well-regarded series, but he wasn’t anywhere near the global icon he is today. With that in mind, Joe St. Pierre’s Deadpool-centric entry in X-Men Millennial Visions 2001 is quite forward-thinking. In “Deadpool: I’m Available,” Sebastian Shaw, the villainous leader of the Hellfire Club, hired Deadpool to wipe out the X-Men.

    Despite his status as a jokey character, Deadpool accomplished this monstrous task in a story the predicted Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe. After three years of slaughter, Deadpool’s hit list quickly grew to include all mutants. While Wolverine, Banshee, Northstar and Sunfire managed to survive, Deadpool took macabre trophies like a pair of Wolverine’s claws and used Beast’s blue-furred hide as a pelt. While this version of Deadpool didn’t appear again, he stands as a sharp reminder of the deadly assassin lying beneath Deadpool’s charming exterior.

    Keep it locked to CBR for all the latest on Marvel and the rest of pop culture! Let us know which of these futures you’d still like to see in the comments!

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