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After 17 years, it's becoming harder for the X-Men movies to uniquely distinguish themselves from the other superhero movies out there. The spinoffs Deadpool and Logan have fortunately had good luck with this goal, the former for its outrageous hilarity and the latter for its mature and contemplative tone. However, as evidenced by the lukewarm reception to X-Men: Apocalypse, the main series entries and other team movies on the way need to find new ways to provide fresh and compelling content. Some of that will involve not leaning as heavily on certain plot points from past movies. In fact, it's already been decided that future X-Men installments won't put the spotlight on Professor X and Magneto's relationship ever again. As longtime X-Men producer Lauren Shuler Donner put it:
We cannot, once again, explore the Erik/Charles dynamic.
Lauren Shuler Donner sat down with Vanity Fair to talk about the future of the X-Men franchise on both the big and small screens. Right off the bat, she said that Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr will no longer be one of the main focuses in the movies. Whether they've been played as older gentlemen by Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, or in their younger years by James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, the dynamic between these two has been one of the focal points in all six main X-Men movies. With so much time dedicated to their clashing ideologies, Donner and the other X-Men bigwigs have realized that it's time to delve into new territory. Donner continued:
[A Charles and Erik-less world] is both liberating and makes me nervous---it's mostly liberating. [Charles and Erik are] always essential to X-Men---but there are other stories to tell.
As much as I've enjoyed seeing Professor X and Magneto's unusual friendship and conflict over the years, I can't help but breathe a sigh of relief to learn that we're moving past this. This is well-tread area that doesn't need more screen time. We know how they became friends, we know their opinions differ on how mutants should interact with humanity and we've even seen them put their differences aside to team up on numerous occasions. Many years from now, when the X-Men franchise has been legitimately rebooted, maybe then we can re-explore their relationship in a different setting, but with the way things are now, it's time to move on.
Keep in mind that just because the Professor X/Magneto dynamic has been left behind doesn't mean we'll never see these characters again. Well, Professor X at least. Patrick Stewart just wrapped his tenure as the telepath in Logan, and the only thing that will bring him out of retirement from that role is an appearance in another Deadpool movie. Meanwhile, James McAvoy is rumored to be reprising Xavier for both New Mutants and the next main X-Men movie, which is reportedly called X-Men: Supernova. There's been no word on if Magneto will return, and Michael Fassbender has expressed uncertainty about if he'll play the character again.
You can see the latest X-Men movie, Logan, in theaters now.