Who Is Marvel's X-Men Movie Writer Michael Lesslie?

Marvel Studios' X-Men reboot has found its writer.

Marvel Studios' X-Men reboot has entered the next stage of evolution.

Deadline reported Tuesday that Michael Lesslie is in negotiations to write the new X-Men movie for Disney's Marvel Studios and producer Kevin Feige. The reboot, which is in early development and has no filmmaker attached, will be the studio's third X-centric project after the animated X-Men '97 and the live-action Deadpool & Wolverine. Marvel's X-Men was never officially announced, but Feige has teased bringing the mutant team into the MCU ever since Disney reacquired the licensed movie rights from Fox in 2019.

"That means we have them back and we are working towards it," Feige told ComicBook moments after name-dropping the X-Men and the Fantastic Four on stage at San Diego Comic-Con, just months after Disney finalized its acquisition of 21st Century Fox's film and television divisions. In the years to follow, formerly Fox-owned characters like Professor Charles Xavier and Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four made surprise appearances in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and the X-Man Beast made an even more unexpected cameo in a post-credits scene ending The Marvels.


What fans want to know now is: Who is Michael Lesslie?

The British screenwriter, producer, and playwright graduated from Exeter College, Oxford (which, coincidentally, was a filming location in 2016's Doctor Strange), where he studied English Language and Literature.

Screenwriting is "the most collaborative creative discipline I can imagine," Lesslie wrote for Exeter. "Most usefully Exeter taught me the linguistic and narrative structures to best communicate them. Tutorials also taught me how to pitch. Screenwriters have to sell their stories. We argue – for plot, scenes, characters, and even punctuation – with actors, directors, and anyone more powerful than us (i.e. everyone)."

Lesslie is best known for writing 2023's Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, adapted from author Suzanne Collins' novel. He previously adapted Shakespeare's Macbeth for the 2015 film version with X-Men star Michael Fassbender in the titular role and the 2016 video game adaptation Assassin's Creed, also starring Fassbender, sharing a credit with writers Adam Cooper and Bill Collage. (Lesslie has since insinuated that the 18% Rotten Tomatoes score doesn't reflect on his script for the Assassin's Creed movie. "One particular project on which I'm credited didn't use my script at all," he wrote, "and my feelings of embarrassment and injustice when the bastardised version was released still burn to the bone.")

For television, Lesslie co-wrote the six-episode BBC One/AMC series The Little Drummer Girl, adapted from John le Carré's 1983 spy novel. The espionage drama from acclaimed director Park Chan-wook was well-received, earning a 95% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Lesslie was reportedly on the shortlist of writers to pitch HBO's Harry Potter television series adapting J.K. Rowling's saga of novels about students attending a school for gifted youngsters (a concept familiar to X-Men readers).

After scripting The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes for Lionsgate, Lesslie's next credit for the studio is Now You See Me 3. Actor Jesse Eisenberg, who will return for the long-planned third installment in Lionsgate's magic-based heist franchise about magician-trickster thieves, recently praised Lesslie's "really great script" that "celebrates intelligence, and it's non-violent but exciting."