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Rumors continue to swirl around Fox's New Mutants, which promises to add an element of young-adult supernatural thriller to the X-Men film franchise. After a recent interview with Anya Taylor-Joy, the internet is buzzing with excitement at the possibility James McAvoy will be reprising the role of Charles Xavier in the movie. Are these rumors likely to be accurate, and what role could Xavier play in the film?
What We Know
Josh Boone's New Mutants promises to be a comic-book-accurate supernatural thriller, and Fox is currently scouting for cast. According to countless sources, one of Fox's most sought-after stars is Anya Taylor-Joy, whose tremendous success in The Witch and Morgan has caught the studio's attention. Taylor-Joy would be the perfect actress to portray the demonic sorceress Magik, although she's yet to give any indication that she's taken on the role.
Asked about her reaction to possibly working with her Split co-star #JamesMcAvoy, she gave an intriguing response:
“I mean, I think James is already a part of it, isn’t he?”
Now, let's be clear; this is not, as some sites are claiming, official confirmation that McAvoy is reprising his role. That said, in a recent interview with ComicBook.com, McAvoy sounded a lot more positive about returning than his #XMen co-stars Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence. He observed:
"If they offer me a really good part, I’ll be in. If it’s not a really good part, I’ll be like ‘Eh, I’ll think about it.’ But I’ve always loved playing Charles and I’ve always had pretty interesting things to do as Charles, so if that continues, then yeah, of course I’d love to take part."
Now, it's important to note that neither of these quotes can be taken as evidence that James McAvoy is on board for the film. That said, he sounds willing, and I'd expect Anya Taylor-Joy to be in the know — whether as someone currently in discussions with Fox, or simply as James McAvoy's co-star on Split. It looks fairly likely that Fox's script includes Professor Xavier, and that McAvoy is on board.
What Role Could McAvoy Play?
Josh Boone is a hardcore comic book fan, and he recently told Creative Screenwriting how he put together his New Mutants pitch:
"After I made The Fault in Our Stars, we made Fox a comic book. It walked them through a trilogy of New Mutant films that would build on each other. We used this program called Comic Life, and took all the images we had loved from the series and strung them together to show them the movie we wanted to do.
We brought it to Simon and he really liked it. We’ve been going for the past year and a half to get it ready, and I’m about to go location scout and we have a release date now."
The key point here is that the New Mutants concept was lifted straight from the comics — and that fits very well with James McAvoy's presence. You see, the original New Mutants comics told the story of a younger generation of X-Men — a group of teenage would-be superheroes who attended Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. They were assembled by none other than Charles Xavier himself, although Magneto later took over as their mentor too. Let's just say the experience wasn't always a good one for Xavier!
If New Mutants is truly as comic-book-accurate as Boone has indicated, then it makes sense for James McAvoy to reprise his role as a mentor figure to the team. That said, excitingly the leaked animatic back in November didn't give any indication that Xavier would play a major role in the battle against the Demon Bear — which is just as it should be. If New Mutants is to work, then Xavier must be a mentor whose influence is felt throughout the film, but who doesn't play a major role in battling the movie's villains. The real victory must be hard-won by the New Mutants themselves.
Could McAvoy Become a Villain?
Here's the intriguing thing; not only was Charles Xavier a mentor in the original New Mutants, he was also a major threat. At the time, Xavier was under the influence of an alien parasite from a race known as the Brood, and he was being influenced to assemble the New Mutants as potential hosts for the Brood.
The Brood are a deadly alien race, loosely inspired by the monsters of Ridley Scott's Aliens. They plant their eggs within you, and over time, those eggs incubate until you are transformed into a Brood. During the transformation, you are open to the Brood's influence, and at the end of the process the fully-grown Brood retains access to your super-powers. That makes mutants a very tempting target for the Brood.
Now, I'm not saying that New Mutants will dive into this concept over the course of the trilogy, but — given that we know the franchise is heading cosmic, and that the roll-call of New Mutants includes the alien Warlock — it is distinctly possible. We could be in for a very intriguing trilogy indeed.
All in all, you shouldn't really take James McAvoy's presence in New Mutants as a done-deal; but if he is on board for the movie, then Josh Boone's script could take us in some very exciting new directions. As excited as fans may be for Logan, personally this is the Fox X-Men movie I'm most looking forward to!