Are Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan Coming Back to Marvel?

Professor X and Magneto may not be done with their chess game yet. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight while promoting season 3 of Picard (which is supposed to be really good), Stewart was asked if he’d be returning to play Charles Xavier after his brief appearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. His initial response is a bit jokey:

“Charles Xavier? Well, I am looking to borrow his wheelchair if we’re to do much more Star Trek or standing up is becoming a bit of a problem… I can’t say about what Charles’ future might possibly hold.”

It sounds like he’s at least open to returning as the founder of the X-Men. But there’s more than just that standard remark; Stewart was next asked about his friend Ian McKellan – who played Xavier’s best friend/archenemy Magneto in several of the X-Men films – and his reaction to Stewart’s role in Multiverse of Madness.

“Actually, it went very well. He did say something like [‘Hey, I would’ve done this!’], yes that’s true… But we’re not done, Sir Ian and myself. We’re… we got plans.”

That seems as close to a confirmation as you can get without a press release that these two will be back in a future Marvel film. Entertainment Tonight speculates that it could be in Deadpool 3, or whatever they end up calling it, which is already slated to feature Hugh Jackman’s return as Wolverine. This is based on an interview Stewart did with, where he said, “I’ve been told to standby [sic]. I know nothing more than that, honest.” And that’s a good bet; seeing the Stewart-McKellan-Jackman triumvirate again would be a thrill, and Deadpool makes a point of referencing the X-Men movies as much as possible in his films.

But I think they could be saving them for something else, or at least also putting them in something else. Now that we’re in the thick of the Multiverse Saga, and they’re going to need something beyond the also-rans they’ve set up as the next Avengers team to sell The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars, I would bet that Xavier and Magneto will make an appearance there, along with Wolverine. Secret Wars is more likely, as they’re all major players in the original comic story. The evidence may be scant at this point – amounting to tidbits from actors here and there and the underperformance of Marvel’s current output – but it’s slowly piling up, and I really think they’re at least going to try to get as many beloved versions of the Marvel heroes back as they can. Several outlets are freaking out over a recent quote from Marvel executive Stephen Broussard, who said to io9 that Robert Downey Jr. was “[off the] table.” He seemed to be talking about bringing in the new heroes to take the places of the old ones more than closing the door on RDJ coming back for the big finish, if you read his comments in full. A lot rests on whether Downey would even want to come back, of course, but I think they’re going to do everything they can to get him, as well as the rest of the Avengers. Whether or not any of this is a good idea creatively is open to debate – and, I’m sure, not a concern of Marvel’s or Disney’s – but considering what we’ve gotten lately and what we have to look forward to, fan service may be the best we can hope for now.  

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