'X-Men: Days of Future Past': Which former 'X-Men' stars are returning?

'X-Men: Days of Future Past,' the sequel to 'X-Men: First Class,' will feature the return of a couple of big 'X-Men' stars to the film franchise.

Murray Close/20th Century Fox/AP
'X-Men: First Class' starred Michael Fassbender as villain Magneto.

As The Wolverine reaches the final stretch of principal photography, the next team-based X-Men franchise installment pushes forward in pre-production with director Bryan Singer now at the helm. Serving as both a sequel to X-Men: First Class and a bridge between it, the X-Men trilogy, and potentially the Wolverine solo films, X-Men: Days of Future Past is the most ambitious X-project to date.

Singer began using Twitter this month and is taking advantage of the social media platform to divulge tidbits of exciting information on Days of Future Past, from photos of meetings with the writer Simon Kinberg and returning costume designer Louise Mingenbach to more recently, major casting announcements.

After officially welcoming back returning stars James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and Nicholas Hoult from X-Men: First Class, Bryan Singer added a major followup announcement:

Thrilled to announce @ianmckellen118 & @SirPatStew are joining the cast of #XMEN #DaysOfFuturePast #magneto #professorX More to come...

We told you to count on Patrick Stewart returning from what he said on multiple occasions about reprising the role and we’re happy that it’s now a reality.

With the story of Days of Future Past being that of a tale of time travel, from the outset and confirmation of the film’s subtitle Singer explained that this project would strive to explore the larger X-Men universe and draw from grander stories from the books, taking inspiration with what Marvel Studios has done with their unified cinematic universe. He said that with the time travel plot device, they can connect the dots so to speak, between the X-Men films and ideally, make sense of the broken continuity.

With Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen both returning as Professor Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Eric Lensherr (Magneto), respectively, we have to ponder how exactly they fit into the story. At the end of X-Men: The Last Stand, Magneto had seemingly lost his mutant ability to control magnetism but there was a hint his powers could be returning to him. For Professor X, he died at the hands of the Phoenix, but in the post-credits scene, it was revealed that he passed his mind into the body of his brain dead brother.

If Days of Future Past picks up from there, at least for one of the time periods it will explore, older Professor X could very well walk again and Magneto may not be the powerful mutant terrorist leader he once was. The alternative however, and one that may be more appealing to Singer (and fans) is that he uses time travel as a way to rewrite the events of X-Men 3, the film he was originally meant to direct before dropping out for Superman Returns. If that’s the case, we could get Singer’s version of what should have happened in X-Men 3 (read about it here) and all of these characters – or at least most of them – could potentially return.

While it’s not confirmed yet, it seems likely that Hugh Jackman will return in some capacity as well. He’s not only the poster boy of the entire X-Men movie franchise, but the Wolverine character was also central to the Days of Future Past story in Marvel Comics. That being said, while we do believe Jackman will reprise the role again, Singer’s film may be very, very different from what’s in the books, even if there are giant mutant-hunting Sentinels, as revealed by Fox’s newly hired Marvel movies consultant.

While the story details remain up in the air, with plenty of announcements (Famke Janssen says stay tuned!) to come over the next few months before production begins in April, we can safely and happily say that the black leather costumes of the X-Men trilogy will not be returning. That either means X-Men in normal clothes, or perhaps costumes more in tune with what the characters wear in the books since the retro-inspired designs worked well in X-Men: First Class and fans accepted the authentic from-the-books attire from The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man.

Bryan Singer will direct X-Men: Days of Future Past with returning stars Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, who could be joined by the return of Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin, James Marsden, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore. Stay tuned!

Rob Keyes blogs at Screen Rant.

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