10 Best Actors To Replace Patrick Stewart as Professor X

Patrick Stewart, Professor X, Marvel Studios, Bryan Cranston, Denzel Washington
By Sam Hargrave Posted:

After Patrick Stewart had one last go as Professor X in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, The Direct has some ideas for who could be next to sit in the mutant's wheelchair for the MCU's X-Men reboot.

It's safe to say that most fans were elated to hear Disney would be acquiring Fox - and therefore its arsenal of Marvel heroes - as the studio's X-Men franchise, which ran for two decades, had been seeing an accelerating quality decline. Now, the prospect of a reboot has been a highly-discussed topic among the MCU public.

Although the reboot was reported to still be "a very long time" away, fans can't help but debate their favorite casting choices. Obviously, recasting the mutants is no easy task as portrayals such as Patrick Stewart's Professor X and Hugh Jackman's Wolverine have grown synonymous with these characters.

The former of the X-Men leads was played by two actors in the Fox-Verse as Stewart delivered the older Charles Xavier while James McAvoy came in later to bring a more youthful take. But as a highly-anticipated reboot hangs in the wind, a recast will soon be needed in the years to come.

So, The Direct chose ten talented actors who could bring Charles Xavier, aka Professor X, to life in the MCU's X-Men reboot:

Giancarlo Esposito

Giancarlo Esposito
AMC

Famous for his calm, collected, and calculating villains, Giancarlo Esposito has already put his interest out there in playing Professor X. After portraying so many antagonists over the years across Breaking Bad, The Boys, Far Cry 6, and The Mandalorian, his interests seem to be turning to the heroic side.

The actor has already held talks with Marvel Studios for several roles including Magneto, Doctor Doom, and Charles Xavier. He even seems to have a plan for how he would bring the latter to life, having revealed three major traits that his X-Men figurehead would have.

With Esposito currently being one of the hottest and most talented actors out there - who already has a strong relationship with Disney thanks to The Mandalorian - he may be the most likely contender for this role.

Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston
AMC

Bryan Cranson - once again of Breaking Bad fame - has been a favorite to enter a major franchise for years. His name has been thrown around for the likes of Lex Luthor, Norman Osborn, Commissioner Gordon, and Professor X.

Those familiar with the famous meth cook Walter White will be more than aware of just how well he can rock a bald head, and Cranston certainly has the on-screen presence to pull off a commanding character such as Charles Xavier.

That being said, Cranston is 66 years old and will likely be pushing 70 by the time the MCU's X-Men reboot comes to pass, possibly making him too old to commit the next decade to the role. Not to mention, the award-winning actor has said in the past that he'd only want to play a villain in the superhero genre.

Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington
Sony Pictures

If Marvel Studios were looking for a more out-of-the-box actor for Professor X, perhaps Denzel Washington could be on the table. After all, fans would go crazy to see this action legend in a superhero role, especially one this notable.

However, Washington has tended to avoid franchises in the past, with The Equalizer trilogy being his only real dip into the sequel game. At 68 years old, the New York-born actor may not be looking to break that trend with a commitment as long-term as an X-Men lead in the MCU.

Mark Strong

Mark Strong
20th Century Studios

Mark Strong has already taken two turns at the comic book game at DC as a major antagonist in Green Lantern and Shazam, so it may now be time for him to jump the moral and corporate fences to become Marvel's Charles Xavier.

The Kingsman actor has been a popular choice to play the mutant leader for some time now, and not just because he happens to be one of Hollywood's favorites when it comes to bald-headed characters.

Ralph Fiennes

Ralph Fiennes
Sony Pictures

Speaking of bald heads, one has to consider the actor behind arguably the most famous hairless character in history, that being Ralph Fiennes' Harry Potter villain Lord Voldemort.

Fiennes has also spent some time on the other side of the moral compass as James Bond's MI6 boss M - a leadership role that does a lot to show how excellently he could pull off Professor X. 

Fiennes has also shown himself over the years to be an actor who is completely up for long-term franchise commitments. Having appeared in four movies across six years as Harry Potter's Voldemort, an MCU commitment ought to be perfectly in question for the British acting veteran. 

David Thewlis

David Thewlis
Warner Bros.

In a less traditional pick, how about David Thewlis, an actor with some experience in the superhero game as the divisive Wonder Woman villain Ares?

Thewlis starred in the 2015 adaptation of J. B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls in which he played a mysterious inspector who held a wealthy family account for their individual roles in a young girl's death. Doing this, Thewlis managed to command the screen with calmness, intelligence, and wisdom.

All of these are traits that Charles Xavier will need, and Thewlis has even played a professor of a fantasy school once before as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban's Professor Remus Lupin.

Stanley Tucci

Stanley Tucci
Paramount Pictures

Yes, Stanley Tucci is already in the MCU as Captain America: The First Avenger's Dr. Erskine. But Marvel Studios has been showing an increasing willingness to have actors play multiple roles, so Tucci may actually be a viable option, especially with over a decade past since his last live-action MCU appearance.

Not only does Tucci look the part of Professor X, but his acting ability and range have shined across all of his performances. Although he rarely gets the chance to be the leading man, Tucci always delivers a memorable performance, which is exactly what the stoic Charles Xavier needs.

Christoph Waltz

Christoph Waltz
20th Century Studios

The Austrian-German actor Christoph Waltz may usually be regarded as Hollywood's favorite villain, but as a star with an absurd amount of talent and range, why not consider him for a shock heroic switch to become Professor X?

Waltz has been a favorite to join the MCU for many years now, especially as he has turned into a popular fan cast for both Doctor Doom and Magneto. Technically, the actor has dabbled in the superhero genre before as the goofy villain of Seth Rogen's The Green Hornet but has yet to do anything with either Marvel or DC.

Antonio Banderas

Antonio Banderas
Disney

One of the most famous Spanish actors to ever hit Hollywood, Antonio Banderas has grown into a true icon of the action-adventure genre, so it's hard not to consider him for a major superhero role, as he is still yet to take one on.

Although Banderas was close to finding himself in the old Fox universe as a scrapped post-credit scene from The New Mutants would have set up his character as the villain of the sequel that never came to be. 

Hilariously enough, the Spanish actor caught an MCU name-drop in Ant-Man and the Wasp as Paul Rudd's Scott Lang christened an ant that saved his life as Ant-tonio Banderas. Unfortunately, said insect quickly met his demise due to a tragic encounter with a seagull. 

James McAvoy

James McAvoy
20th Century Studios

All of those names clearly have plenty of budding opportunities, but how about a familiar face? Patrick Stewart was the most iconic Charles Xavier of Fox's X-Men, but James McAvoy also tackled the mutant leader in the later sequels.

Across his four appearances - two of which came in the almost universally hated Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix - McAvoy received widespread praise for his performance and encapsulation of Professor X.

A previous report even claimed that after some stars from the past X-Men movies return to help fight Kang in Avengers: Secret Wars, they may join the MCU under new contracts for future projects.

By the time Marvel Studios is looking to cast this role, at least six years will likely have passed since his last appearance in 2019. This would offer a chance at a new beginning with this character, although his last comments unfortunately indicate he may not even be interested.

Why Marvel Studios Has a Tough Task in Casting Professor X

Marvel Studios probably won't be looking to cast Professor X for several years now, as the MCU's X-Men reboot isn't expected to arrive until late 2026 at the earliest. But unlike other characters such as Wolverine who could be played by a newcomer, Charles Xavier will likely go to an established and recognizable star.

Typically Xavier has been portrayed as being born in the 1930s to make him a similar age to his close friend Erik Lehnsherr, aka Magneto. Of course, this would make the mutant duo over 90 years old in the current MCU timeline, and casting an actor who can believably appear that old simply isn't viable for longevity.

In most cases, that year of birth would simply be moved forward, but because Magneto's experience of the Holocaust is so essential to him, that's tough to do. Perhaps Marvel Studios may find themselves needing to slow the aging of these characters or pluck them from time to bring them into the present-day MCU.

If either of those changes were to be implemented, Marvel Studios could have plenty of flexibility in castings these actors with regard to their age. Although the mutant-teaching role of Charles Xavier means that he will need to be fairly significantly older than most of the other heroes involved. 

The MCU's X-Men reboot has yet to set an official release date - although a past report may have revealed the current working title.