For actors who sign on to star in a huge franchise these days, it’s usually expected that they will stay in that role for a long time. That type of commitment can either be a good or bad thing; it helps to reassure an actor that they will have continuous work, although it can also mean that they are tied to a busy, intense work schedule for playing a recurring character. And one franchise that can demand that long-term workload is Marvel’s X-Men series, with Patrick Stewart (Professor X) being one its iconic figureheads.
Its latest installments feature time-travel, which allows multiple actors to take on the same character. James McAvoy plays the younger version of Professor X, while Stewart plays the older, wiser one. Stewart did appear in X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014, but not in this year’s Apocalypse. He has done the character justice for over a decade, but he recently made an announcement that his appearance in 2017’s Wolverine 3 may be his last for the franchise. In an interview with ITV (via Coming Soon), Stewart discussed what it means to leave a franchise.
I would imagine this is probably the end of this franchise for me. But the thing about science fiction and fantasy is that you can never, ever say it’s the end, it’s over.
Against what fans may want, a statement like that could be teasing the character’s death in Wolverine 3. But by Stewart saying he’s potentially done with the franchise, there are still ways that the studio could get him back. There are plenty of untold stories that the character has in the comic books, so Hollywood could always persuade him to return for future installments. It remains to be seen what Stewart’s final decision will be, but, either way, his performance as Professor X will continue to be one of the franchise’s finest achievements.
Wolverine 3 hits U.S. theaters on March 3, 2017.