Movie Talk

Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen are ‘X-Men’ once again

Two mutant alums are enrolling once again at Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters.

Responses have been mixed to the news that Bryan Singer will be returning to the director's chair for the "X-Men: First Class" sequel, "X-Men: Days of Future Past." On one hand, there's something exciting about the man who brought us the first two X-films, "X-Men" (2000) and "X2" (2003), coming back to the franchise, especially since those first two installments are held in such high regard. On the other hand, Singer is the guy who abandoned the series and went across the street to Warner Bros. to make "Superman Returns," which led to Fox hiring Brett Ratner to call the shots on the disappointing (and hopelessly rushed) "X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006).

We'll have to see if Singer still has his formidable mutant powers when it comes to making an "X-Men" movie. However, the scales have definitely tipped in his favor with the surprise (and welcome) announcement (via Twitter) that both Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen have joined the cast of "X-Men: Days of Future Past."

Stewart and McKellen brought skill and class to the pulpy four-color shenanigans of the first three "X-Men" movies with their portrayals of Charles Xavier/ Professor X and Erik Lehnsherr/ Magneto, respectively. It was a joy to see these two master thespians in the same movie(s) ... and all the more a treat to watch them play comic book characters with awesome superpowers.

So what does this casting news mean to the plot of "X-Men: Days of Future Past," anyway? James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender played Charles and Erik in "X-Men: First Class," and they've signed on to reprise their roles in the sequel -- will they be handing the mantle over to their, er, predecessors at some point in the film? Or will we be seeing the younger versions of the characters interacting with their future selves, as the peculiar title of the film seems to imply such a time-bending scenario?

(Hint: The 1993 two-part episode of "X-Men: The Animated Series" that bears the same title as this film might contain a clue or two. Then again, it might not!)

No matter how the plot accommodates them, having two different generations of the X-Men in the same movie is certainly exciting. Production on "X-Men: Days of Future Past" will commence next year with a look toward a release date of July 18, 2014.