Bryan Singer's return to the X-Men franchise he jump-started may have been one of our riskiest box-office gambles of 2014, but X-Men: Days of Future Past proved itself a big hit. Its epic time travel plot allowed for original stars Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen to appear alongside their younger counterparts from X-Men: First Class, played by Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy.
Aside from injecting fresh energy into Fox's major comic book franchise, Days of Future Past served a reset of sorts for the entire continuity and introduced a host of mysteries for the next film, X-Men: Apocalypse. Beyond a new but ancient villain in the title character (played by Oscar Isaac), Apocalypse will also introduce younger versions of the original film's lineup alongside franchise mainstay Wolverine (Hugh Jackman).
However, it appears that Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen will not reprise their characters in Apocalypse. While speaking to Larry King (hat tip CBM), Stewart was asked if he would be in Singer's DoFP follow-up. He responded in the negative, saying: "No. Nor Sir Ian McKellen, either."
Stewart further explained:
"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."
Fans of the two iconic actors may be disappointed, but shouldn't really be surprised. Days of Future Past was not quite a clean slate for the X-Men franchise, but it was close enough for the producers to skew younger in casting central characters like Cyclops, Storm and Jean Grey, and we've known for a while that the Fassbender and McAvoy versions of Magneto and Professor Xavier would take center stage and conclude the story introduced in First Class.
With Fox expanding their inter-connected X-Men movie universe to include Gambit, Deadpool and maybe even a Fantastic Four crossover, it seems more and more like the Days of Future Past appearances of Halle Berry (Storm), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), James Marsden (Cyclops) and Famke Janssen (Jean Grey) were part of a coda for the original X-Men cast's saga.
Still, there is the question of the cliffhanger ending of DoFP, which hinted that Professor X at least will appear again in a future installment. With the X-Men series now back on solid ground and moving forward, we may see Stewart and/or McKellen again, if only for one last go-round.
X-Men: Apocalypse will be released on May 27, 2016.