Matthew Vaughn has cast James McAvoy (Atonement, Wanted) to play the young Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class. As we’ve previously reported, the film is a prequel and will chronicle the breaking of the friendship between Xavier (aka Professor X) and Eric Lensherr (aka Magneto). It will be interesting to see how this dynamic plays out because I’ve always felt that the distance between the characters in X-Men and X2 was one of sadness and not anger. First Class will also feature younger mutants training at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. There will be new mutants, but teenage Cyclops and Jean Grey are characters frequently mentioned in connection with the movie.
According to Heat Vision, Fox did not reveal whether McAvoy will go bald and/or be in a wheelchair (in the comics, Xavier’s lost use of his legs as a young man after an an alien named Legion dropped a big rock on them). Hit the jump for more details on the project. X-Men: First Class is slated to begin filming this summer and hit theaters on June 3, 2011.
Vaughn was hired early this month to direct after Bryan Singer, who was originally attached, had to leave due to his obligation to helm Jack the Giant Killer for Warner Bros. Singer remains on the project as a producer and he also conceived the film’s story, which is currently being written by Vaughn’s Kick-Ass co-writer Jane Goldman.
As for McAvoy, he’s a solid choice. It’s easy to see him as a young Patrick Stewart. I’m curious to know if he’ll try to keep Stewart’s mannerisms (e.g. Ewan McGregor with Alec Guiness for Obi-Wan Kenobi) or if he’ll do something new. Now the challenge comes to finding a young Ian McKellan. I’m terrible at casting so I’d love to hear some suggestions.