In Fox’s X-Men universe, it’s been a rollercoaster journey. Bryan Singer and Brett Ratner engineered things in the first three films, and while these plots will always come under question, the core casting felt right. Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier, Ian McKellen as Magneto and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine are the major ones that stood out. Matthew Vaughn then revamped things with X-Men: First Class, bringing in the likes of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence to appeal to the younger audiences, but since then, things have still felt stale, magnified by the disappointing X-Men: Apocalypse.
Right now, it feels like most of the characters are simply going through the motions and you just don’t feel their passion like the casts who populate the MCU and DCEU. Even adding a younger perspective for Apocalypse didn’t work, ironically continuing Singer’s habit of botching the supporting castings. With that in mind, it makes sense to shake up the order of things by looking at the overall players, from the minor cogs to the major faces. CBR decided to dissect this issue and analyze 15 of the X-Men we think should be recast in order to electrify the franchise once more.
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for several of Fox’s X-Men movies
Jennifer Lawrence is an Oscar darling, having won Best Actress for 2012’s Silver Linings Playbook, and having been nominated for Winter’s Bone, American Hustle and Joy. However, when it comes to her role as Mystique, she phones it in. Since First Class in 2011, Lawrence has been a franchise mainstay, which extends the torture of watching her consistently wooden performances on-screen.
Granted, Fox’s writers made a mess of the character by pushing her to the forefront of the X-Men universe, but Lawrence hasn’t helped the cause by making the character even more dull. Seriously, she makes Rebecca Romijn look like she deserves an Oscar for playing Mystique. With Apocalypse placing her as the leader and trainer of Professor Xavier’s team, the studio should recast with an actress that has the heart and desire to bring us Mystique’s depth and emotional weight.
Gambit has been stuck in developmental hell and despite Fox saying it’s still in the works, fans remain cynical. Channing Tatum, who was cast as the Cajun, also reiterated that everything was slowly but surely on track recently. However, losing Doug Liman as a director does’t inspire confidence. Fox has delayed the film in its schedule, which had it slated for next year, further puzzling us.
We figure that with Tatum in Fox’s Kingsman sequel, the studio may well be living up to their word to lock him in. However, the actor has been more miss than hit lately and honestly, the property needs a facelift, starting with a recasting. Gambit needs a breath of fresh air, starting with Tatum. Such a change may attract a director who wants to revamp and start from scratch — maybe even with a French or New Orleans actor.
Recasting Rogue could give us the romance with Gambit that diehard fans want but never got. We did get Rogue and Iceman, which ended pretty anticlimactically, so let’s hope that reinvigorating the character with a new face will bring much more respect and justice than what Anna Paquin received. Paquin did an alright job, but the final straw was when her role in Days of Future Past only came to life in The Rogue Cut.
Rogue has been treated peripherally, which sucks because she’s been a major part of Xavier’s squad, a key leader with the Avengers, and we can’t forget how essential she was in the Captain Marvel mythos. That said, Paquin didn’t bring the flair to the role like she did to True Blood, so let’s hope there’s another Southern belle waiting in the wings to make the Rogue roll truly absorbing.
12. KITTY PRYDE
Ellen Page’s Kitty Pryde is another X-Men character that needs a facelift. Page’s performances come off very docile, which really doesn’t embody the drive we’ve read over the years as Shadowcat became a leading member in the crew, and even took on big quests with the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy.
It’s tough to take Page seriously in the role because she doesn’t bring the vibrancy to Pryde we’re familiar with, erring more on the side of the scared and cynical. With Apocalypse bringing in a younger batch of heroic mutants, this would be the ideal opportunity to get a fresher, more bubbly actress in and also, one we could believe would have a rapport with an alien dragon, Lockheed, if Fox ever go this route.
Olivia Munn has serious geek cred, and as we saw when she became one of the Horsemen of Apocalypse, she has the look. As Psylocke, she had that aesthetic down pat, but let’s be real, Psylocke deserves a better actress. Munn has not really been impressive on-screen and when it comes to someone as decisive and cutthroat as Betsy Braddock, someone more assertive should don the suit and sword.
Munn came off as nothing more than eye candy and Fox needs to find someone who can be as cerebral as she is lethal if the studio wants to use her when they adapt X-Force. The Uncanny X-Force run from Rick Remender and Jerome Opena is a great starting point, where the character truly came into her own as a deadly and decisive assassin. When it comes to Betsy, we need power in the role, not just poise.
10. EMMA FROST
First Class really butchered Emma Frost as a villainess in the Hellfire Club. In the end, she was recruited by Magneto for his new Brotherhood, but sadly she was killed off-screen in X-Men: Days of Future Past. With the soft reboot at the end of this film, it means Fox has an avenue to go back and retcon her to be included in the new wave of heroes.
They could easily ignore continuity (as they did with her in X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and redeem her in as Xavier’s new young charge, adding to the Jean and Cyclops love story. The White Queen also led mutants at various junctures so an older version could be used to rival Xavier or replace Jean later on. Either way, we deserve a better actress than January Jones who lacked any sort of charisma or motivation when she played the scantily-clad Emma.
Fox sadly didn’t include Bobby Drake in First Class but he did get fair time in the earlier films. However, Shawn Ashmore also didn’t boast the pizzazz of Iceman. This can also be chalked up to a script that required him to be in a dark place when it came to Rogue or Shadowcat, compounded when he was killed in Apocalypse. Now, Fox has a chance to retcon things with a younger talent for their future movies.
He would have fit in so well in Dark Phoenix. That said, the next iteration of Iceman should be spritely, like what the MCU and Sony did with Tom Holland’s Peter Parker, or someone troublesome and a bit clownish like Johnny Storm is in Fantastic Four. Filmmakers could also address the teen angst of him being gay like Marvel’s current Iceman (or technically, Icemen).
Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers came off as ca bit clunky. He lacked authority and didn’t feel like a leader, which has to do with his age and experience. Let’s hope that after Dark Phoenix, Fox jumps to the future stories where he’s a seasoned young adult, finding a middle ground between Sheridan and James Marsden from the older films.
Still, Sheridan lacks the intensity needed for a believable Cyclops, who ended up opposing mutants and Avengers in the books just to show that he is the war messiah his species needed. Judging from Sheridan’s past body of work, and films like Ready Player One, he’s suited to teen dramas or nerdy sci-fi flicks, and not to the darker and battle-heavy stories Fox has planned. Hopefully, he’s unplugged as Cyclops soon so that we can move on to a true badass leader.
Evan Peters brought a quirky dimension to Quicksilver and many fans seemed to take to it, especially in those slow-motion scenes Fox loves to use as his signature special effect. That said, as the speedster, he doesn’t offer anything much like his comic book counterpart. Hopefully, when Fox goes grittier with Quicksilver, Peters gets booted.
He does awkward well but as seen with his Kick-Ass role, he’s way too timid to be an anti-hero. You wouldn’t cast Michael Cera as Sinister, right? Quicksilver needs to be more arrogant and douchey. Let’s hope the writers shake this up soon and either kill his family or estranged father (Magneto) to ruffle his feathers. Either way, we needed a more rough-cut speedster and not this food-loving hippie Peters throws at us. The MCU’s Quicksilver remains miles ahead.
Ben Hardy as Angel brought minimal oomph to the role. He was also wooden and very boring, which was a major disappointment given that he too was one of Xavier’s original five in the comics. The fact he was omitted from First Class should have hinted Fox was going to muck the character up, like they did with Ben Foster’s original iteration. That said, you would have thought Archangel in Apocalypse would have been better.
Wrong! Hardy’s depiction of the lackey lacked any intimidation, and when he partnered with Psylocke and Storm to take the X-Men down, it was downright laughable. Fox needs someone with more spine and a war-driven demeanor if they’re to use him in X-Force, because the battle of light and dark within Warren Worthington III plays a big role in the character’s development. It deserves a better actor to carry out the Jekyll and Hyde dynamic.
Alexandra Shipp as Storm was a major disaster. She failed to nail Ororo Monroe’s accent, as she wasn’t consistent or believable, and came off as nothing more than a pretty face Singer wanted as a Horseman. Singer prides his castings on style over substance, and this is another strong example.
In the comics, Storm is a regal and dominating leader. Shipp embodies none of the above and doesn’t show potential for either. Just when you thought Fox couldn’t ruin the character any more than they did with Halle Berry, here you go! Storm needs a much more profound actress in the driver’s seat and if Fox wants her to matter, they need to look at the job that Marvel Studios did when casting the women of Black Panther. Now that’s how to cast women who intimidate in the name of justice.
Fox’s X-Men films have saturated us with Magneto. We went from McKellen’s older villain to Michael Fassbender’s younger and more aggressive take on the character. It’s clear that Fox is focused on the symbol of what he represents — a man who treats fire and hate with fire and hate — so we don’t expect them to kill him off anytime soon (even though they should)! Truth be told, though, we don’t want more Fassbender.
They’ve overloaded us with the German-born Irishman and we could do with seeing someone else don Magneto’s helmet. Fassbender is 40 so maybe they can go slightly older (such as Daniel Craig at 49) to find a middle-ground to what McKellen portrayed. Even if they keep the current timeline, it’s in Fassbender’s best interests to move on and get his Oscar ambitions back on track; away from Hollywood blockbusters and popcorn flicks.
3. JEAN GREY
Fans were overjoyed when Sophie Turner arrived to take over as the redhead Jean Grey. They loved her as Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones but in Apocalypse, we quickly saw that she may not have been the best for the job. Famke Janssen had strength when she played Jean but Sophie lacked this. Her character was inexperienced but she fell into the same trap that Sheridan’s Cyclops was in — they lacked authority.
Much more is expected when she goes full-powered in the Dark Phoenix reboot and hopefully she doesn’t struggle to give a powerful, albeit a dark performance. She’s only now coming into this territory in her HBO series so let’s look to an older and more rugged Jean with a recasting. We need the epitome of virtue but someone who can destroy mankind and mutantkind alike.
McAvoy impressed us when he came aboard as a younger Xavier, picking up right where Patrick Stewart left off. However, he also forms a big part of the Trinity saturation Fox gave us with Fassbender’s Magneto and J-Law’s Mystique. We got too much of their rapport and this chemistry quickly became boring. Hinging the plots on them so often makes McAvoy come off one-dimensional and if we want to keep interest, get someone in more dynamic.
He seems to be imitating Stewart a bit too much and doesn’t leave his own stamp on the character, which sucks after you see him shine in films like Wanted or Split. As Xavier, he over-dramatizes and doesn’t come off as a sage leader. We need more wisdom and honestly, a new face would break the preconceived notions we have for future movies like New Mutants.
With Jackman gone, Fox has to know that the character is bigger than the actor. They must cast a new Wolverine in the wake of Logan because this isn’t even your ordinary character, he’s a franchise. This definitely puts the pressure on because it’s one of the biggest roles in superhero movies, so if we want more of Wolverine with X-23, the X-Men, X-Force or simply cutting loose with another R-rated solo, the studio should take their time and get it right.
Ryan Reynolds tried to goad Jackman back for a Deadpool appearance but we’re glad he went off into the sunset because he did a great job, running his course fully. Now, with Cable in the X-verse, we could use time-travel or Fox’s love for messing with continuity to get a new Logan. Once Jackman endorses, we should be good to go!
Let us know in the comments who needs to be recast in Fox’s X-verse!
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