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James McAvoy opens up about his '‘biggest criticism’ looking back on Fox's run of 'X-Men' films
Professor X says the sequels dropped the ball in chasing the dynamic between two of its most interesting mutants.
Going back to the 2010s, the Fox-owned side of the Marvel universe produced an X-Men movie output that met with a mixed reception from fans. Films like 2011’s X-Men: First Class, 2017’s Logan, and 2016’s Deadpool (and its 2018 sequel) achieved a broad consensus of approval from audiences, while later installments like Dark Phoenix (2019) and the long-delayed The New Mutants (2020) left both fans and critics pining for a Disney-owned future that might take the franchise in a fresh direction.
As Charles Xavier, James McAvoy held court over much of the proceedings through the course of four X-Men films (plus a brief turn in Deadpool 2). And while he still prizes his time as Professor X, he looks back with at least one regret over how the series could’ve captivated viewers after getting off to a strong start in First Class (his first X-Men film).
“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 Magento [Michael Fassbender],” McAvoy recently shared with GQ. “[That] really formed the backbone of the first film, so it was like, ‘why did we just eject that massive weapon?’”
McAvoy and Fassbender set down a killer dynamic in First Class that hinted the mutant pair were bound to explore a deep relationship in future installments; one that perhaps could play Xavier’s principled, pragmatic sensei role against Magneto’s more gung-ho ethos as a superhero maverick more eager to ask forgiveness than permission for his high-stakes choices. But after getting off to a promising start in First Class, the focus on their relationship all but fizzled in subsequent X-Men installments.
Still, McAvoy reflects with fondness on his time sporting the chrome-dome look for Marvel. Being a long-term piece of the X-Men movie puzzle “was one of the most positive experiences I've had with a studio,” he admitted. “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.”
With Disney now in control of the mutant side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and Wolverine fan favorite Hugh Jackman reportedly set to appear in the upcoming Deadpool 3), there’s no way to know whether McAvoy might again be offered the chance to play Xavier in upcoming films that could bring the X-Men into the MCU fold. But at least we can count on Peacock for a blast from the distant past to check out how McAvoy’s journey first began: It’s the place to stream X-Men: First Class anytime you catch the mutant mood.