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Will We Ever See Professor X In A Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie?

Professor X hasn't made his way to the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet, but he has appeared in many Marvel movies. In fact, over the course of 17 years, he appeared in 12 films across the X-Men universe. From his first live-action appearance in 2000's X-Men to his swan song in 2019's Dark Phoenix, Charles Xavier has had quite a lengthy journey on the big screen. He's also been played by two incredible actors: Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy. Professor X is a household name, but since Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, it remains to be seen what the studio plans to do with the character.

The X-Men will eventually appear in the MCU at some point, but will Professor X be part of that team? It's possible those in charge will want to mix things up, and seeing as how Charles Xavier has gotten so much screentime at this point, it may be time for a changing of the guard. Much of the previous X-Men films have focused on Charles' relationship with his longtime frenemy Erik Lehnsherr, a.k.a. Magneto, so Marvel may decide it's time for a change of pace. We'll look at all the signs pointing to his return to live-action films, but we'll also cast some doubt. There are a lot of X-Men out there, and it may be time for another character to become a fan favorite. 

There are already rumors of a return for Professor X

Pretty much from the moment it was announced Disney was acquiring 20th Century Fox, everyone knew the X-Men and Fantastic Four were finally going to be part of the MCU at some point. Kevin Feige even hinted early on that there were plans to bring in the two teams at some point during Phase 5. While fans will have to wait a while, it does seem as though the studio is interested in bringing the X-Men to play with everyone else within the next few years. 

Rumors swirled in 2019 that Marvel was considering portraying Professor X and Magneto as people of color. The reaction was mixed, to say the least, but for a short while, it definitely seemed like Marvel was pushing ahead with developing an X-Men film, and the story would involve Professor X and Magneto to a certain extent. 

Those rumors are spotty

From the 2019 reports, it sure sounded like the Marvel team was interested in bringing Professor X into the MCU. The problem is that there weren't any reputable sources associated with the rumors. In fact, they were seemingly spun from a single quote made by Marvel chief Kevin Feige, who said, "So, the notion of representation on screen, in front of and behind the camera, somebody asked me once, so is Black Panther a one-off? I said, no, it's not a one-off." Feige is just interested in having more diversity onscreen. He didn't say anything specifically about making Professor X and Magneto people of color, and there aren't any other insider sources indicating that's the truth. 

In actuality, there are no confirmations that Marvel Studios is looking to cast anyone as Professor X at the moment. It doesn't mean it's not happening behind closed doors. We just don't know what their plans are as of this moment. 

Professor X is important to the Marvel mythos

When you think of the X-Men, who pops to mind first? Probably Wolverine. But second on that roster is likely Professor X. He's been with the team since the beginning of the comics saga in 1963. He's the older, wiser mentor to the younger X-Men, being a trusted voice of reason when the team has squabbles. For heaven's sake, the name of the school where the X-Men congregate is called Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.

Without Professor X, there would be no X-Men. There would be no one to get the team together and send them off on missions. Even if he's not the main character of the MCU's X-Men movie like he was in X-Men: First Class, it's safe to say he'll be in the movie to some capacity. Perhaps he'll be an "Ancient One" archetype where his role is more subdued, and he mostly just helps others while another member of the X-Men team has a stronger character arc. But it just seems like he has to be there in some capacity, right?

Marvel Studios wants to change up established characters

We can already get an idea of how the MCU will handle the X-Men and Fantastic Four by looking back at the way they've handled Spider-Man. This is another character that had a ton of movies before debuting in the MCU, so general audiences already had a good idea of what to expect. The results have been Spider-Man movies unlike anything that came before. The films have relied on villains we'd yet to see on the big screen, and there's been the notable absence of Uncle Ben (outside of a few noteworthy Easter eggs). This is a different kind of Spider-Man from what we're used to, and these can all be seen as necessary changes to make the MCU Spider-Man feel organic and unique. 

If we apply this principle to the future X-Men films, then we can expect some other noteworthy changes. Marvel's X-Men movies are likely to use different villains from what we've seen before. Maybe there won't be as much of a reliance on making Magneto a big bad. But this could also mean a departure for Professor X. He's had his time in the sun, and Marvel Studios may want to give other, younger characters a chance to become icons. Cyclops never really got a chance to be in charge in previous X-Men movies, so perhaps the MCU will be where he can finally do something other than getting his girlfriend stolen by Wolverine.  

Kevin Feige wants Patrick Stewart to return

Anyone stepping in to play Professor X would have some big shoes to fill. James McAvoy brought a great deal of nuance to the character, but there's just something about Patrick Stewart that's so perfect. His look is a virtually exact fit for the comic book character, and he brought sage compassion to the role. You really felt like he cared about the kids he was overseeing. And we're not the only ones who think so. 

In January of 2020, Patrick Stewart revealed he met with Kevin Feige to discuss certain opportunities in the MCU. Stewart said, "I met with Kevin Feige a couple of months ago and we had long, long conversations. And there have been moves and suggestions, which include Charles Xavier." So apparently, Feige was at least interested in opening up the opportunity for Stewart to return. And there would even be some precedent for this. After all, J.K. Simmons returned to the role of J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man: Far from Home. It's clear Marvel Studios isn't afraid of using what's worked in the past and bringing it into these new films. Could Patrick Stewart follow in these footsteps?

Patrick Stewart doesn't want to return

When Kevin Feige comes calling, you pick up the phone. While Feige may have been interested in bringing Patrick Stewart back as Charles Xavier, it seems as though the meeting wasn't enough to nudge him back into the role — Stewart has stated that he doesn't want to return to the role following his dramatic ending in Logan.

Hugh Jackman said repeatedly that he has no intention of returning to the role of Wolverine, and it seems like Stewart is on a similar page. According to Stewart, when he saw a screening of Logan at its Berlin premiere, he felt incredibly emotional over the film and actually had to wipe away a tear. He was open to returning at one point if the studio wanted him to, but now he's adamant that he has no plans to play Professor X again. Perhaps he only wanted to meet with Kevin Feige to offer suggestions about what he should look for in the next Professor X. Of course, there's always the possibility that without Patrick Stewart coming to the role, maybe Feige doesn't want anyone to take it. 

Marvel could court any actor they wanted

So let's say Marvel isn't able to get Patrick Stewart back as Professor X. That doesn't necessarily mean the role has to remain empty. There are plenty of great actors out there, champing at the bit to play the part and become part of the MCU. All you have to do is search online for two seconds to find a plethora of articles fan-casting the part. And honestly, there are some good contenders out there. 

It's easy to see how Marvel would be able to court an established, respected actor to the role of Professor X. After all, they got Anthony Hopkins to play Odin and Robert Redford to portray Alexander Pierce. Numerous names come up whenever fans talk about recasting Professor X, including the likes of Tom Hanks, Jeremy Irons, and Colin Firth, just to name a few. Fans are passionate about Charles Xavier, and Marvel would do well to listen to them and make sure to include him in some capacity in future X-Men films. 

Marvel faces obstacles to bringing X-Men into the MCU

One big problem the MCU will face is that it's now been around for a while, and the X-Men are showing up late in the game. In the comics, mutants have been around forever, with some being thousands of years old. Even if the X-Men have only been around for a few decades in this universe, where were they for the battle against Thanos' army in Avengers: Endgame? Were they just hanging out at the school waiting for everything to blow over? 

There have been numerous theories regarding how the X-Men might join the MCU, including mutants coming from another dimension or even Scarlet Witch creating mutants through her powers. This all begs the question: if mutants are going to be a new thing within this universe, then where is the place for the mentor? There are certainly ways to bring Professor X into the mix, and it all comes down to what Marvel wants to do and how they want to incorporate an entirely new set of superheroes into a world that has already seen aliens and super-soldiers. 

The final say

So can you expect to see Professor X in the MCU at some point? Probably. While the MCU will likely change some things about the X-Men, Professor X is too important to ignore. He may not have as much of a role as he's had in prior movies. The face of the X-Men going forward is likely to be someone younger who can stick around on the team for years to come. Professor X may be relegated to more of a supporting role. He could be a big name actor to draw in audiences, but they may also go with lesser-known actors to fill out the ranks of the younger X-Men. Marvel films have done this in the past, and it's worked out well — even launched some careers. 

His personality may also change to accommodate a different aesthetic. Instead of being the sage mentor, he may be more flawed. We saw a little bit of this with the James McAvoy Professor X, but it's possible the MCU will lean into it even more. He could be more of a Nick Fury-type character whose heart's in the right place, but resorts to shady means to get what he wants. Again, this is all just speculation, but it's fun to think about. One thing is certain: After the Disney/Fox merger, it's hard to imagine a Marvel Cinematic Universe without Professor X.