When X-Men: First Class hit theaters in 2011, James McAvoy was the biggest member of the new cast. Michael Fassbender had only made minor appearances in films like Inglourious Basterds and 300, Jennifer Lawrence was something of an indie darling coming off her Oscar-nominated 2010 performance in Winter’s Bone, and Nicholas Hoult was still known to most as the kid from About a Boy. Everything quickly changed—2011 saw Fassbender break out huge with Shame, Jane Eyre, and Haywire, Lawrence would become a sensation with 2012’s The Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook, and Hoult was on the cusp of becoming a leading man all his own.
Essentially, the casting on First Class was so good that 20th Century Fox’s biggest problem going forward was that they had too many massive stars to juggle. So when their third movie, X-Men: Apocalypse, rolled around, many wondered if this would mark the end of Fassbender, McAvoy, and Lawrence’s tenure with the series. They had signed three-picture contracts so they would no longer be obligated to return, and given how busy each of them has become, carving out time in their schedules every two years for another massive X-Men movie can be somewhat tricky.
Lawrence has been candid in the past about her reluctance to sign on for more X-Men movies, and in a recent interview with EW, the actress’ uncertainty was clear:
“I would love to come back. I love the fans and I love the character. But then you realize how important your year is, like how important three months out of your year is. I don’t know. I shouldn’t be that honest.”
Indeed, it really does seem like this cast gets along and enjoys being together, but these are huge movies and all of the actors are no doubt inundated with offers for all kinds of films. But Lawrence also dropped a pretty curious reveal about the contracts they’ve signed post-Apocalypse:
“Fassbender and McAvoy and I were all talking,” she says, “Like, ‘Will you come back?’ ‘I dunno.’ ‘I’ll come back, if you come back.’ Fox should be terrified because the deal we made was like if one of us doesn’t come back, none of us are.”
That’s pretty huge, and also incredibly smart of the actors. To be fair, Fox has a lot of other possibilities with this franchise that don’t involve Fassbender, McAvoy and Lawrence—Apocalypse introduces even younger mutants via Tye Sheridan‘s Cyclops and Sophie Turner‘s Jean Grey, and then there are Deadpool sequels and an X-Force movie, so it’s entirely possible to make an X-Men movie without these characters. In fact, producer Simon Kinberg recently revealed that the hope is to start filming New Mutants next year, which would introduce a slew of, well, new mutants. It’s possible McAvoy returns in a supporting capacity for that film as part of a stipulation in his contract.
Regardless, it sounds like getting the whole gang back together in the near future is going to be a tricky prospect, and it’s not like Lawrence and Fassbender are getting less busy. Lawrence is teaming up with Darren Aronofsky for a new drama and co-wrote a comedy she’ll star in with Amy Schumer, and Fassbender essentially hasn’t stopped working since Apocalypse wrapped, shooting Assassin’s Creed, The Snowman, and now Alien: Covenant back-to-back-to-back. Again, it’s crazy to think that just five years ago Fox was merely looking to cast solid actors in a franchise reboot and ended up with an embarrassment of riches.