X-Men Movies alumni James McAvoy is opening up about one of his biggest criticisms of the X-Men movies he starred in – which include X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Dark Phoenix. In a new interview, McAvoy reflects fondly on his time playing X-Men founder and leader Charles Xavier; however, the one thing that McAvoy wishes the franchise had done differently? More time focused on Xavier and Magneto!
"[Making X-Men] was one of the most positive experiences I've had with a studio. I don't really [see them as just] money gigs. Days of Future Past I think is one of the better films that I've been involved in," McAvoy explained to GQ Magazine. He then admitted that "My biggest criticism of what we did throughout the four movies was that after the first movie, we didn't take advantage of the relationship between [Xavier and Michael Fassbender's Magneto], which really formed the backbone of the first film. So it was like, why did we just eject that massive weapon?"
Indeed, X-Men: First Class (2011) mined the emotional core of its story from the relationship between Charles Xavier (McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender). Director Matthew Vaughn was clearly more interested in how Xavier and Lensherr connected (and ultimately differed) as two great future leaders of their people, known to the world as Prof. X and Magneto. Much of First Class touched upon the original Civil Rights era metaphors of the X-Men series was built on and made them interesting for a whole new generation. No matter the criticisms of First Class (and there were a few), the respective performances and mutual chemistry between McAvoy and Fassbender impressed critics.
After First Class, the Xavier-Magneto relationship in the X-Men movies got far less deep and more in line with the traditional comic book version of the characters and their rivalry. Even in moments where Xavier and Magneto reunited (Days of Future Past), their scenes were more snippy banter than deep emotional exploration. By the time of the latter films (Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix), the franchise was struggling to keep Fassbender's Magneto occupied with good stories – let alone resolve the emotional arc that First Class started.
By now, however, it's not necessarily a corrective measure that Marvel Studios can (or should) attempt with their X-Men franchise relaunch. A lot of fans have openly expressed fatigue with the Xavier/Magneto relationship in X-Men films, after watching both Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen and then McAvoy and Fassbender tackle the subject over the course of more than two trilogies' worth of films. At this point, we argue it'd be better for Marvel Studios to follow modern X-Men comics, which have brought Xavier and Magneto together as leaders of a full-fledged mutant nation and society.
The X-Men movies are streaming on Disney+.