WARNING: This contains SPOILERS for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness sees the return of Patrick Stewart as Professor X, continuing a long tradition of the character dying in one film and somehow returning in another. With his brief cameo appearance of Professor X Doctor Strange 2Patrick Stewart regained his record as the longest-running actor to play a Marvel character on screen, even beating Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe, who returned Spider-Man: No Way Home. In this journey, which spans more than 20 years, Stewart’s Professor X honored all of the character’s defining traits, including his recurring deaths.
Characters who die and come back are nothing new to comics, but the X-Men have an even longer history with this trope. Along with Jean Grey, Charles Xavier is one of the most deadly mutants in the Marvel Universe, and yet they both always find a way to come back. Between reboots, time travel, and alternate universes, there was never a shortage of options on how to recreate a major X-Men death.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of MadnessThe Illuminati lineup brought together alternate versions of characters the MCU already knew and heroes not yet seen in the franchise, including Professor Xavier. This was the third time Patrick Stewart’s Xavier had returned after dying in his previous appearance, and it ended up adding even more to Professor X’s list of deaths following his battle with Scarlet Witch. Here’s a breakdown of all the times Professor X died in the movies and how Patrick Stewart was able to return.
Killed by Jean Gray in X-Men: The Last Stand
Sixteen years ago Doctor Strange 2Charles Xavier was already dealing with an all-powerful fallen hero who had become a threat to himself and others. Similar to Scarlet Witch in Doctor Strange 2Jean Gray a X Men: The Last Stand had been overpowered by her own powers and was no longer the friend the X-Men knew, becoming the Dark Phoenix. At the beginning of the film, she summarily killed Cyclops, proving that no one was safe. Even so, the moment Jean Gray killed Professor Xavier still came as a shock. Over the course of the trilogy, audiences had learned that Xavier was one of the most powerful mutants on the planet, if not the most powerful. However, he was no match for Jean Grey.
Though brutal, Professor X’s death is in X Men 3 Didn’t last long. Xavier had Jean atomize his body, but before that he managed to transfer his consciousness into the body of a comatose man. This shows in the X Men: The Last Stand’s post-credits scene, although it was never made clear whether this patient was Xavier’s twin brother or if Professor X began projecting his earlier image into other people’s minds. Either way, Patrick Stewart’s Professor X managed to return to the post-credits scene of The Wolverine and in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Killed by a Guardian in X-Men: Days of Future Past
Take those who hadn’t seen or remembered the post-credits scenes X Men: The Last Stand and The Wolverine surprised, X-Men: Days of Future Past featured Professor Xavier as one of the surviving X-Men who joined the resistance led by Kitty Pride. While Charles couldn’t help much in the final battle against the Sentinels and couldn’t bear to have his mind sent decades back in time like Logan, Patrick Stewart’s Xavier had a touching moment as he shared with his younger self, played by James, speaks McAvoy in a crossover as well as the in “Spider-Man: No Way Home”s multiverse. However, like all mutants in this timeline, Charles was no match for the power of the Sentinels. At the film’s climax, there was almost nothing left for the Sentinels to destroy, and one of the machines fired a burst of energy at Professor X. Once again, Xavier’s death would not last long. In fact, right after the Sentinel exploded, young Mystique gave up on committing the murder that would lead to the death of Project Sentinel, completely altering history and resetting the timeline. With this action, it meant that not only Professor X was alive, but also Jean Gray and Cyclops.
Killed by X-24 in Logan
The new, happy future shown in the days of the future past The restored X-Men timeline didn’t last long either. At one point, Professor X contracted Alzheimer’s disease which, given his incredibly strong mind, led to a tragic accident that killed all the X-Men. Professor Xavier’s bleak future in logan would get worse as he would then be killed by the Wolverine clone X-24 while thinking it was Logan standing in front of him. Given the closeness of Xavier and Logan, it is tragic that Xavier died believing his friend had killed him. Unlike the previous two deaths, Professor X’s death is in logan was never really undone. However, that doesn’t mean Patrick Stewart didn’t have other options to return to the role. Five years later loganStewart would agree Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to water.
Killed by Scarlet Witch in Doctor Strange 2
while the fox X-Men Universe was relatively self-contained and, with the exception of days of the future past, didn’t delve into very complex sci-fi concepts, the MCU doesn’t have the same limitations. With the launch of the Multiverse and Disney’s acquisition of Fox, all cards were now on the table as far as X-Men or Fantastic Four-related characters appearing in the franchise. Of course, it wouldn’t be long before the MCU started making the most of all these new possibilities. In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Professor X exists in one of the universes that Doctor Strange visits thanks to the powers of America Chavez, a universe known as Earth-838. This isn’t the same Xavier from the X-Men Movies, but in a nod to the Marvel storyline, Patrick Stewart appeared to be playing the 1990s animated version of Professor X X-Men: The Animated Series.
Unsurprisingly, however, he was killed again. This time, Professor X died after losing a mental battle against Scarlet Witch while attempting to free Earth-838’s Wanda from Scarlet Witch’s mind control. Scarlet Witch’s mental powers were so strong that breaking Professor X’s neck during their mind battle resulted in Professor X actually breaking his neck. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness could be the last time Patrick Stewart plays Xavier, but the character himself will most likely return for the MCU X-Men franchise as an Earth-616 version – continuing Professor X’s long tradition of dying and then reappearing – even if it’s not the same actor in the chair.
Next: Doctor Strange 2’s post-credits scenes explained (they’re both important)
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