While 20th Century Fox's X-Men franchise is looking stronger than ever, with three movies hitting theaters (The New Mutants, Deadpool 2 and X-Men: Dark Phoenix) this year, the long-term future of the series remains uncertain. Last month, Disney purchased 20th Century Fox in a deal worth $52 billion that, when the deal is finalized sometime in 2019, will ultimately bring the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. During a recent interview, X-Men producer Lauren Shuler Donner was asked how she'd feel about working with her former protege, Kevin Feige. Here's what the producer had to say.

"Sure, why not? Look, it's 18 months away, so who knows. For me, I think Bob Iger is one of the smartest men in the country. Alan Horn's an old friend. Kevin Feige was my intern and assistant and then my associate producer on the first X-Men. Kevin and I started the X-Men together, so for me if we work with Kevin, I'm happy."

After graduating from USC, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige landed a job as an assistant for Lauren Shuler Donner, and thanks to his vast knowledge about the Marvel Comics universe, he was made an associate producer on the first X-Men movie in 2000. Over the next few years, he would go on to serve as a producer in various capacities on other Marvel movies such as the first Spider-Man movie for Sony, 20th Century Fox's Daredevil and X2: X-Men United, Universal's Hulk, Lionsgate's The Punisher and many more, before he was named president of production for Marvel Studios in 2007. While the X-Men movies would mark a return to Kevin Feige's roots, so to speak, there is still a long way to go before we'll see any X-Men mutants within the MCU.

What's particularly intriguing is the direction that these new X-Men movies have taken, essentially eradicating the original timeline from the first X-Men trilogy, thanks to the time-bending events of X-Men: Days of Future Past. This year's X-Men: Dark Phoenix will be set in the 1990s, following the trend started by X-Men: First Class, which was set in the 1960s, followed by X-Men: Days of Future Past in the 1970s and X-Men: Apocalypse in the 1980s. It's possible that the next few movies will bring the franchise into the present day if this current formula is followed, which sets each movie in a new decade.

If that is the case, that could be the perfect opportunity to integrate the X-Men franchise into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although no details about how the X-Men will fit into the MCU have currently been given. Regardless, with the Disney/Fox merger expected to be finalized sometime in mid-2019, fans likely wouldn't see the X-Men make their MCU debut until probably 2021 at the earliest, perhaps even later than that. You can head on over to Rotten Tomatoes to read more from Lauren Shuler Donner, including her thoughts on Legion, Deadpool 2 and the #MeToo movement.