For devoted fans, the death of Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) in X-Men 3: The Last Stand (Spoiler Alert?) remains one of the worst mistakes ever made in the realm of superhero films. And while Bryan Singer bringing the character back from the dead for the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past was welcome news, exactly HOW Professor X will be resurrected has remained a secret.
Patrick Stewart previously promised that Professor X's return would be explained in the film, and our conversations with Singer and the (big) cast of the film present at Fox's Comic Con 2013 press conference got us thinking: what if Professor X isn't just alive, but kicking?
It was no surprise that a question arose about what elements of X-Men 3 - directed by Brett Ratner - Singer would be keeping intact, and which parts he would be 'fixing.' Reiterating that some of the continuity would be re-written by Days of Future Past, Patrick Stewart chimed in on his initial reaction to Singer's return to the series:
"I heard about this movie, and was immediately filled with such sadness. Because - most of you probably wont 'recall, but at the end of 3 I was vaporized by Jean Grey. And that really hurt, by the way.
"So my assumption was: there's going to be Ian, and Halle, and Hugh and everybody back, but it won't be me. But...something happened. And...I'm not allowed to talk about that."
At this point, Bryan Singer took over. Any fears that the director was attempting to keep the return of Professor Xavier under lock and key seem to be misplaced; while the reasons for his resurrection aren't known, Singer doesn't seem concerned over fan reactions:
"Characters come back to life in comics. Whenever I do something, I can't just do it flippantly. I have to at least believe in the idea, the conceit. So, in my own mind I understand how Xavier is alive from X-Men 3. There's a beat at the end of X-Men 3 after the credits when his consciousness is inside of this woman in a hospital. And then you take that, you mix it with some powerful mutants - mutants can do a lot of cool stuff, so you can imagine - anything's possible."
Singer went on to explain that unlike previous films in the X-Men series, Days of Future Past will be dealing with some heavy science fiction. Besides the time travel elements, the impression was given that the same sci-fi logic powering the Sentinel program may have something to do with Professor Xavier's newfound lease on life.
But even if we accept that Singer has come up with an explanation that he's satisfied with (like, say, the reality-altering powers of Scarlett Witch, who may be featured in the movie), and Professor X's consciousness finds its way back into a new body, the question remains: why would he still be paralyzed? In the comics, Dr. Moira MacTaggert grew the Professor a new, cloned - and walking - body. Since the same Dr. Mactaggert has been played by Olivia Williams in X-Men 3 and Rose Byrne in First Class, this could also be the solution on film. Perhaps even as a button scene at the end of The Wolverine.
It's impossible to know for sure, but more suspicious teases arose when the cast was asked about what fans could expect from the new costumes. Hugh Jackman assured everyone that the black leather wouldn't be called on once again:
"In the future, the X-Men suits are...really I'm just pausing in case I'm going too far...are unbelievable. First of all, a hell of a lot more comfortable to wear than in X-Men 1 or 2, but they look really amazing. And...people in the future wear suits who've never worn suits before. That's all I'm going to say."
We're hard-pressed to think of anyone in the immediate cast who hasn't suited up with the team at one time or another, especially in the 'future' timeline that Jackman alludes to. Of course, there was always one member of Charles Xavier's family who never received their very own uniform: Dr. Xavier himself. Since he was confined to a wheelchair, his psychic powers never warranted any battle gear. Could a new body be one that Dr. Xavier uses to protect his team physically, as well as mentally?
Add the fact that one way in which Xavier regained the use of his legs in the comics was coming into contact with Apocalypse - a villain long rumored to appear in DOFP - and the question becomes even more intriguing. We've already seen a Charles Xavier standing in mysterious new clothing, so it's seeming more and more likely that Professor X will be in the middle of whatever fight happens to occur in the film.
Professor X's wheelchair is sure to make an appearance in the movie, even if he isn't seated in it. Take ALL of this as speculation on our part, but for fans of Patrick Stewart's Xavier, the best may be yet to come.
What do you think of these comments? Will you have problems accepting Xavier's return regardless of how convoluted or unbelievable the explanation may be? Or do you think another plot point is behind all this secrecy? (Do want to see Prof. X kicking ass and taking names?) Sound off in the comments.
X-Men: Days of Future Past hits theaters May 23rd, 2014.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.