Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, former friends turned bitter enemies on screen but the best of friends in the world in real life, will not be reprising their respective roles of Professor Charles Xavier and Erik “Magneto” Lehnsherr in X-Men: Apocalypse, the next mega-budget installment in 20th Century Fox’s blockbuster franchise based on the popular Marvel Comics characters.
In a recent interview on Larry King Now, Stewart, who has played the part of Professor X in every X-movie except for 2011’s X-Men: First Class (he made brief appearances in both of the solo Wolverine features), was asked the inevitable question of whether there would be a place for him in Apocalypse. His response is bound to break the hearts of more than a few longtime fans of the series:
“I was learning quite a lot more about it last night, and it is going to be looking very much at the earlier lives of all our characters. And so I don’t think we’ll be making an appearance. Nor Sir Ian McKellen, either.”
It appears as if last year’s spectacular X-Men: Days of Future Past could possibly be the last time we see the older versions of Professor X and Magneto as played by Stewart and McKellen for almost as long as the X-Men movies have existed. As far as anyone is concerned, the roles now belong to James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, respectively (at least until their contracts expire or salary demands get too pricey).
As great as they were bringing these iconic Marvel characters to life, Stewart and McKellen couldn’t play them forever. Their younger counterparts have proven over the last two X-sequels to be talented and worthy enough to be passed the torch, and since this is a rebooted franchise new blood is necessary to keep it healthy and strong as director Bryan Singer guides the series he helped turn into an international box office powerhouse into an uncertain but promising future.
X-Men: Apocalypse, the now Stewart-and-McKellen-less version, opens in theaters on May 27, 2016.