While 20th Century Fox’s X-Men film franchise has gotten far more flak than it deserves over the years, it’s hard to name very many things it actually did better than Marvel Studios in terms of its adaptations. Sure, Fox (prior to being acquired by Disney) was far more experimental with its Marvel movies — especially towards the end with excellent R-rated genre films like Deadpool and Logan — but the consistent quality of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is sort of hard to compete with.
After all, while Fox and other non-Marvel Studios production companies have definitely done right by certain Marvel Comics characters with their own adaptations in the past, Marvel itself has often proven its ability to do portray those characters better than anyone else can. The likes of Daredevil, the Punisher, Ghost Rider, the Hulk and arguably even Spider-Man are evidence enough of that. However, as heavily criticized as some of its X-Men movies have been, there is one character Fox did manage to portray even better than Marvel Studios did: Quicksilver.
The X-Men film universe’s version of Quicksilver — dubbed Peter Maximoff — made his debut in 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past (which is easily in the running for the best film of the franchise). Played by Kick-Ass alum Evan Peters, this version of the wicked-fast mutant was depicted as a carefree, Pink Floyd-loving, fast-talking kleptomaniac. A time-displaced Wolverine, who knew and older Peter, comes to enlist the younger version’s help in his, Professor X and Beast’s journey to prevent Mystique from killing Bolivar Trask.
While Quicksilver wasn’t in the whole movie, he certainly made his moments count. In addition to generally being a hilarious addition to the cast, his now-iconic slow-motion sequence set to Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle” that takes place when Wolverine and company break Magneto out of the Pentagon quickly became the talk of the town upon Days of Future Past‘s release. While the film certainly could have benefited from even more of Quicksilver’s antics, it’s safe to say he stole the show and helped send audiences home happy as is.
While the X-Men universe’s Quicksilver left fans wanting more in a “we love this guy” kind of way, however, the MCU’s Quicksilver left them wanting more in a “what, that’s it?” kind of way. With Disney and Fox having previously agreed to share the rights to the Maximoff twins — Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch — expectations for the MCU’s first real portrayal of Mutants (even if they couldn’t actually call them Mutants at the time) were pretty high, given Marvel Studios’ aforementioned reputation. And while Scarlet Witch continues to be a major player in the MCU to this day, her twin brother wasn’t quite as lucky.
Marvel Studios technically introduced its version of Quicksilver first, with both he and Scarlet Witch debuting during the post-credit scene of 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier — which arrived in theaters one month before Days of Future Past. The duo’s first full appearance came a whole year later in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Age of Ultron is a film that people tend to rag on a little too much. While arguably the weakest of the Avengers tetralogy, it’s still a fine superhero film in its own right. And make no mistake, while Fox’s version is ultimately the better one, Age of Ultron did a solid job with its own Quicksilver. Right out of the gate, the MCU’s Maximoff Twins were praised for being depicted as Eastern European, in keeping with their comic book counterparts. As opposed to Days of Future Past‘s Peter Maximoff, the MCU’s Quicksilver also got his comics-accurate name of Pietro. What’s more, acclaimed actors Aaron Taylor-Johnson (who coincidentally starred alongside Peters in Kick-Ass) and Elizabeth Olsen were tapped to portray Pietro and Wanda Maximoff, respectively — and they had a solid look to boot.
As mentioned before, Age of Ultron faced its share of criticism. One scene in particular that generated a fair amount of discourse was a twist taking place in the film’s finale when Quicksilver sacrificed himself by taking a barrage of bullets for Hawkeye and a child the archer was protecting. While the backlash towards this development was blown a bit out of proportion and the moment itself was perfectly fine, there’s definitely still a case to be made that the MCU’s Quicksilver never got to reach his full potential, especially considering the fact that Taylor-Johnson was genuinely great in the role.
In fact, even now — half a decade later — there are still constant rumors and speculation regarding if, when and how Marvel Studios could bring Pietro back. On top of that, the way in which Pietro died led to numerous posts online poking fun at how he was defeated by bullets, while Fox’s Peter Maximoff was so fast that he could redirect bullets in mid-air. These were mostly just jokes, mind you, but they did still highlight the apparent fact that Fox saw far more potential in Quicksilver’s abilities than Disney did at the time.
Peter’s stock continued to rise with the release of 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse, another film that tends to be unfairly dismissed. Whereas the MCU’s Quicksilver was dead and gone, X-Men‘s Quicksilver was given a larger role in Apocalypse, complete with an even bigger and better slow-motion sequence. This time around, Peter saves nearly every single person from the exploding X-Mansion (sorry, Havok) to the tune of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” — a scene even the film’s detractors have acknowledged as being excellent. Whatever your opinions on Apocalypse are, there’s no denying that Quicksilver’s sequence alone made the film worth the price of admission. Moreover, Peter just generally had more to do in this film, with Fox clearly realizing it had a genuine star on its hands following the success of Days of Future Past.
Granted, Fox’s track record with Magneto’s children isn’t exactly spotless. While Quicksilver was fantastic in Days of Future Past and Apocalypse, he noticeably took a backseat in Dark Phoenix. And while Polaris got a good showing in the television series The Gifted, Fox never even really bothered with Scarlet Witch. As far as Wanda goes, Marvel Studios definitely wins, with the hero not only playing a major part in the Avengers films but also set to co-star alongside Vision in a Disney+ original series that comes with Doctor Strange implications.
Still, as consistently good as the MCU is, it’s not infallible. And while Marvel Studios’ version of Quicksilver was fine for what he was — and had a great performer backing him — Fox’s version of the silver-haired speedster was definitely utilized a lot better, becoming one of the X-Men franchise’s biggest attractions while his MCU counterpart fell by the wayside. It just goes to show that even though you’re on top, that doesn’t mean you can’t still learn a thing or two from others. And if there’s one Fox character Disney can learn from going forward, it’s Evan Peters’ Quicksilver.
While Marvel Studios is known for definitive adaptations of Marvel Comics characters, Fox's X-Men films did get one over on the MCU with Quicksilver.