It’ll probably be a while before we see the X-Men characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but they are on the way. Marvel Studios reacquired the rights to the mutants when Disney merged with 21st Century Fox earlier this year. This will mean the X-Men getting rebooted and recast again after Fox tried and failed to do that themselves.
Patrick Stewart played the definitive version of Professor X on the big screen (James McAvoy would’ve had a chance with the right script, but he was sadly underserved), so he’s left some big boots to fill. Here are 10 Actors Who Could Play The MCU’s Charles Xavier.
10 Gary Oldman
Professor X is a born leader, so anyone who can play Winston Churchill, one of history’s greatest leaders, at an Academy Award-winning caliber can certainly play him. Gary Oldman was easily one of the most underrated aspects of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, as his subtle, understated portrayal of the ethically conflicted Commissioner Gordon fell by the wayside among a growling Batman and an Oscar-winning Joker.
If he brought the same nuances to Professor X, who takes center stage as the leader of the X-Men, fans would surely take notice. Contrasted with Wolverine’s bombastic quips, this would be a great take on Charles Xavier.
9 Colin Firth
The great thing that Patrick Stewart did with the role of Charles Xavier brought a regal elegance to his delivery style. Colin Firth’s lead performance in The King’s Speech proved he can do this in his sleep. He’s also shown adaptability to a comic book world with his turn as Harry Hart in the Kingsman franchise.
Firth has become a popular casting rumor for the role of Professor X, and it’s easy to see why. Shave his head and give him the Cerebro and he’s definitely got the look, and we know he can pull off an intelligent character.
8 David Oyelowo
Easily one of the finest actors working today, David Oyelowo has shown that he can play serious roles like Martin Luther King, Jr. in intimate performance-driven stories like Selma, but he’s also held his own in big-budget blockbusters. There’s no doubt that he’d make a great Charles Xavier. It’s been reported that Marvel is seeking an actor of color to play Professor X, and while it might just be a rumor, some X-Men fans have been up in arms about it.
Frankly, it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Charles Xavier’s race has never been a part of his characterization or his identity. His whole character is built around his brain, so his ethnicity isn’t important.
7 Stanley Tucci
If Marvel is looking to cast someone who is popular with millennials (this is a common casting technique with older MCU roles: Robert Downey, Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Ruffalo, etc.) and will bring a degree of eccentricity to the role of Charles Xavier, then Stanley Tucci might be the right choice. He’s been underserved in movies like Transformers: Age of Extinction in recent years, but Tucci is a famous actor who is popular with moviegoers and would probably play a great Xavier.
He played the scientist who selected Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger, but the MCU has cast actors in multiple roles before, so it’s not entirely impossible.
6 Daniel Craig
We’ve seen Daniel Craig as a stony-faced James Bond, who rarely smiles and always has a plan. Craig could play Professor X as a genius who is haunted by the mistakes and traumas of his past, with the gravitas of a superpowered A Beautiful Mind. The MCU can differentiate its Professor X with an incarnation that isn’t as old as Patrick Stewart’s but isn’t as young as James McAvoy’s.
Daniel Craig would be the perfect choice for a middle-aged Charles Xavier, and with his tenure as James Bond about to end, he’ll be ready to start a multi-movie arc as one of Marvel Comics’ most beloved icons.
5 Michael Caine
Michael Caine might seem like a left-field pick for Professor X, but it might not be so crazy. We’ve already seen Caine bring plenty of gravitas to one comic book role when he played Alfred Pennyworth in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. He might bring even more gravitas to a role that isn’t just a part of the supporting cast.
Caine playing Charles Xavier would both differentiate the MCU’s version from Patrick Stewart’s definitive portrayal of the character and provide the heavyweight acting chops to compete with Stewart’s Shakespearean-level talents. Plus, Caine’s Cockney accent might suggest a less privileged upbringing, which could help to make Xavier more relatable.
4 Jeremy Irons
There’s no doubt that Jeremy Irons has the acting chops to pull off the role of Charles Xavier, and he’s around the right age to play the character in his most memorable prime. The only gripe is that Irons is currently playing Alfred Pennyworth in the DC Extended Universe.
However, with Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne getting replaced with a younger version played by Robert Pattinson, there’s a chance that Irons’ Alfred will be out, too, and Warner Bros. is doing a total reboot of the character. This would free up Irons’ schedule to allow him to play Professor X in the MCU.
3 Bryan Cranston
Bryan Cranston could probably play Professor X and Magneto since he essentially played both in Breaking Bad. He played a mild-mannered genius scientist when we first met Walter White, and he went on to play a snarling, terrifying villain who justifies his own heinous actions when Walt became the drug kingpin Heisenberg.
The scales are tipped slightly more in the way of Charles Xavier, because we know he’s willing to shave his head for a role and he’s good at making intelligent, science-laden dialogue sound compelling. Plus, Cranston works better as a guy you root for than a guy you root against.
2 Sean Bean
If the MCU wanted to depict Professor X as a grizzled, more bitter version to set him apart from the previous on-screen incarnations of the character – sort of like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but better and more consistent with the source material – then Sean Bean would be a great choice.
Bean is popular with fanboys and has an underrated range as an actor. It would also be nice to give Bean a role in a blockbuster where he doesn’t die straight away – or at least not for a long time, before an epic Iron Man in Endgame-style sacrifice or solemn Patrick Stewart in Logan-style murder.
1 Ewan McGregor
If the MCU is looking to cast a younger Charles Xavier in the mold of James McAvoy’s incarnation from X-Men: First Class, then they should look no further than Ewan McGregor. McGregor’s acclaimed turn as a younger Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy has shown that he can take a character that was made iconic by an older actor and do them justice, please fans, and make the role his own all at once.
McGregor is one of the greatest actors working today, and he’s about to play the villainous Black Mask in Birds of Prey, so he could be playing for a change of pace with a heroic role.