The Marvel Cinematic Universe has now been granted the rights to properties that were held just out of reach for decades, taunting the billion-dollar Marvel Studios from being able to evolve their cinematic layout without falling into the legal snares of licensing trouble. 20th Century Fox was adamant about holding onto their reproduction rights of the X-Men since the FOX-Men Era emerged in the dawn of the 2000s, spanning nearly two decades while cleverly stepping out of Marvel Studios’ way. The reception of the FOX-Men, however, was inconsistent as there was praise for some additions to the canon and a rejection of others that did not align with the ideals of X-Men fans. The extent of X-Men lore and its sophisticated state of being is too elaborate to condense into a film’s run time. Even with an X-Men ’97 series afoot, it only slightly echoed the X-Men comics’ cultural impact. Nonetheless, Marvel Studios announced that they would reboot the X-Men following the Walt Disney Company’s purchase of 20th Century Fox Studios for a $ 73 billion bid. Reactions to the news were both of excitement and reluctance as concerns over how Marvel Studios planned to approach a team that represented inclusion, diversity, and individuality arose.
A recasting of the X-Men is frankly inevitable as the reboot undergoes its pre-production stage. Marvel fans have proven themselves to be incredibly particular when it comes to the expectations of their cast, keen to pressure the studio into casting performers that match comic-accurate physical attributes to their live-action adaptations. In rare occurrences, demands and fan-casting have been satisfied, while others remain confined to the limits of fan art. Erik “Magneto” Lehnsherr was a Jewish mutant who survived the Holocaust and was determined to use his own mutant status to fight the oppression of others. He advocated for mutant supremacy in society and insisted that mutant-kinds take pride in their identities. It’s still frequently debated whether Magneto was “right” in his actions to pursue his cause – whether Magneto was a villain – but the discourse can take a new form in the MCU. Before a morally and ethically charged conversation can revisit the superhero genre, an actor must be chosen for the role. Here are five actors we think should play Magneto in the MCU.
5 Michael Fassbender (Again)
Michael Fassbender was able to gain such an intimate understanding of Magneto through his time flashing back to the X-Men assemblage through the eyes of 20th Century Fox. Fassbender’s balance of rage and grief paralleled co-star James McAvoy’s Professor Charles Xavier. The MCU can easily relaunch the X-Men without feeling a dying need to recast its most important characters; Fassbender’s comprehensive grasp on Magneto and his complexity allows him to be the premier candidate for the mutant’s reprise. The FOX-Men saga has showcased how Fassbender can already bury himself into the character and has a previous relationship with Magneto’s internal turmoil. His return could chime into the legitimacy of the Multiverse that is gradually inflicting greater conflict on the MCU. Fassbender’s time as Magneto warrants a rightful return. He deserves fresh, strong, and new writing that will elaborate on the bittersweet suffering and renewed hope of Magneto in a new cinematic universe.
4 Giancarlo Esposito
Breaking Bad fan favorite Giancarlo Esposito has been the first choice by those who have offered their own speculation on the incoming cast. Rumors have guided internet dwellers to believe that Esposito may nab the role after The Mary Sue reported that an actor of color may be cast as Magneto in the MCU reboot. CinemaBlend reported that X-Men: First Class screenwriter Zack Stentz chimed into the conversation of Esposito entering the MCU in response to how Lehnsher’s necessary backstory as a Holocaust survivor, suggesting that Esposito’s Magneto could be “… a Tutsi survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide…” This would further diversify the MCU while continuing to honor significant moments in history that are in need of more attention. Esposito has loomed over Breaking Bad, Better Call Sauland The Mandalorian as an unshakable villain. Such an imposing presence would cast a truly chilling tone over the MCU’s X-Men without Esposito needing to utter a word. Being able to amplify that energy through a more cinematic medium through an even more intense character would be optimal for Magneto’s return through Esposito.
3 Mads Mikkelsen
Mads Mikkelsen has proven himself charmingly menacing on-screen, and his return to the MCU has been much anticipated since his antagonistic role as Kaecilius in Doctor Strange. Mikkelsen leans into natural charisma in such roles as Hannibal Lecter in NBC’s Hannibal, masking a more sinister character beneath the surface. The multifaceted charm of Mikkelsen’s performing ability and his deliverance on characters are designed to be open-ended for interpretation. Magneto’s haunted elegance would be excellently translated by Mikkelson’s naturally suave presence, breathing new life into how the mutant was perceived by those around him. Magneto’s eloquent, calculated, and articulate state of being have been outlined through previous performances, yet Mikkelson’s magnetic captivation could push that air of intrigue into unexplored territory.
2 Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Game of Thrones star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is no stranger when it comes to navigating morally gray characters who fall between unforgiving and wanting forgiveness. Coster-Waldau knows how to strike the tender middle between a determined man driven to see his ideal reality manifest while being able to understand the villains can be misunderstood. His portrayal of Jaime Lannister focused on a warrior wanting to honor what he believed was right, driven by his paternal instincts. Magneto’s undying quest to avenge justice for mutant-kind can take shape through Coster-Waldau’s performance that applies a more sympathetic point of view. The MCU is in need of a villain whose objective is not inherently destructive, but questionably constructive. The FOX-Men nearly allowed the Master of Magnetism to stand as a father figure before dodging glaring questions about how dual sets of Maximoff children would conflict. Being able to understand that Magneto fights in favor of mutant youth would shine a more humane light on his crusade in favor of mutant superiority.
1 Jeremy Irons
Jeremy Irons would appeal to those who are looking for an age-appropriate actor to step into the role. Sir Ian McKellen demonstrated that an older Magneto would be just as commanding on-screen as his younger counterparts, and the re-introduction to the character would avoid the trope of needing to retell an origin story from the ground up once more. This would encourage a step forward for the MCU when seeking alternative and original ways of introducing highly demanded characters. New entries from Marvel Studios do not permit the most suitable grounds for Magneto to be given yet another retelling of his traumatic past from a young age; Irons breaking a mold similar to McKellen challenges the standards for who may be welcomed into the franchise. Fan responses to casting announcements reflect the reputation of a studio. Marvel Studios can challenge the notion that an actor is “too old” or has aged out of a specific character by introducing Irons as one of X-Men‘s most complicated characters. Additionally, the MCU is in need of departing its predictable tone. If they were to lean into a more grizzled Magneto through a darker, grittier narrative that could be comparable to James Mangold’s Loganthe actor’s rich background in both superhero films and dramatic films could greatly benefit this iteration of Magneto.