James McAvoy Has One Big Complaint About the X-Men

Kevin Feige may want to take notes.

20th Century Studios

James McAvoy is the symbol of a bygone superhero era. As Charles Xavier in the X-Men prequel films, he took the character Patrick Stewart embodied and made him a young, hip academic who wore a lot of corduroy and rocked shoulder-length hair. But superhero movies have moved on to the ever-expanding MCU, allowing McAvoy to look back at his X-Men movies with a critical eye. With the X-Men now on the verge of entering the MCU, could his misgivings actually be rectified?

In conversation with GQ, McAvoy discussed his time playing Charles Xavier. “It was one of the most positive experiences I’ve had with a studio,” he said. “I don’t really [see them as just] money gigs. Days of Future Past I think is one of the better films that I’ve been involved in.”

James McAvoy was an excellent Charles Xavier, but he was soon relegated to the background of his movies.

20th Century Fox

But that love doesn’t exempt the movies from criticism, and McAvoy took issue with how the later X-Men movies treated the dynamic between Professor X and Magneto. “My biggest criticism of what we did throughout the four movies was that after the first movie, we didn’t take advantage of the relationship between [Xavier and Michael Fassbender’s Magneto], which really formed the backbone of the first film,” he said. “So it was like, why did we just eject that massive weapon?”

It’s a fair point. The mutant duo was supposedly the focus of the series, but was soon backbenched for bigger stories that explored the fabric of space and time. However, there’s a possibility this key relationship could get a redo.

The MCU has flirted with fully incorporating the X-Men into its canon ever since Disney purchased 20th Century Fox in 2019. It started with meta references, like Evan Peters being a “recast Pietro” in WandaVision. Then Patrick Stewart’s Professor X and Kelsey Grammer’s Beast popped up in the multiverse for quick cameos.

The Marvels brought Kelsey Grammer’s Beast to the MCU — or at least a neighboring universe.

Marvel Studios

With Deadpool & Wolverine premiering later this year, it looks like the X-Men merger is finally becoming official. But McAvoy isn’t jumping at the chance to revisit the role. “I’m very quick to say, ‘No, I’m done,’” he said. “Or ‘I’m not that bothered about coming back.’ Because you move forward.”

That said, perhaps any iteration of Charles Xavier — be they a variant or a future or past version — could address this complaint and create a new dynamic with Magneto that expands on their unique, heartfelt relationship. No matter how bombastic your movie is, you still need interesting people at its center. With the massive crossover that is Avengers: Secret Wars coming ever closer, now’s the perfect time for the MCU to take notes from one of the men who knows the character best.

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