Since Professor X made his way to the big screen in 2000's X-Men, the mutant mentor has been portrayed as a paragon of virtue. However, Dark Phoenix complicated this image of him when he made a major mistake, then refused to admit he was wrong. Now, Charles Xavier actor James McAvoy has shed some insight into his character's good intentions and why those set him and his team up for failure.
"I've been lucky! I think particularly in Days of Future Past and this one, he's been really complex. He was damaged in Days of Future Past and had to heal himself, or let other people help him heal, and in this one, he's not damaged but he's damaging -- from a good place," McAvoy explained. "He's still hurting people, you know, because he's got this vanity and this god complex where he thinks he can fix everybody. This mantra he has, that there's good inside everyone, that's a beautiful thing, but I think it's taken to the point where he feels he has to win that. He has to prove that to prove that he's right, and that's not necessarily the same thing as doing what's right for the person in front of you."
"He's also got this fatherly thing where he believes his children are capable of so much more and he's got unlimited potential for them all," he continued. "And that's great! That sounds positive, but where does that cross over into pushing your kid too far? Not that she's a kid, but she's sort of like his daughter. He pushes her way too far and she suffers horribly because of it."
McAvoy and longtime co-star Michael Fassbender, who plays Erik "Magneto" Lehnsherr, also shared their favorite aspect of Charles and Erik's friendship. "I'm going to say that I'd like to do more with them, and I'd like to have Charles and Erik together more, even if they are pissed off at each other all the time," McAvoy said. "I think they help define each other by -- even if it's just an example of what I don't want to be, that they sort of coexist in that way. They sort of revolve around each other like a proton and an electron, you know? It's not to say that they couldn't exist without each other, but they sort of --"
"Might be a little lost," Fassbender pitched in.
Asked if he believes his character could even truly find peace, Fassbender replied, "They can find a certain amount of it, for sure. I mean, in Apocalypse as well, I think Erik definitely found a lot of peace and happiness in his family and I think he's a very loyal sort of person, and he will invest a lot in the people around him. We see that with his relationship with Mystique as well, so much so that it brings him out of this peaceful setting."
"He found this place where, you know, it's almost like the culmination of all his sort of battles and what he's been fighting for, but -- again -- it's through his loyalty that he feels like he's got to avenge Mystique's death," he continued. "Will he ever find peace? I think he can find some level of contentedness."
Directed and written by Simon Kinberg, Dark Phoenix stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Holt, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters and Jessica Chastain. The film is out in theaters now.