For whatever reason Fox and Bryan Singer have decided to make the X-Men franchise an eternal set of period pieces, with X-Men: Age of Apocalypse taking place in the 80s. This led some to wonder whether Sirs Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart would reprise their roles as Magneto and Professor X, roles that are - in the period pieces - now occupied by Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy. It turns out the answer to that is no. Talking to Larry King, Patrick Stewart said:
I was learning quite a lot more about it last night, and it is going to be looking very much at the earlier lives of all our characters. And so I don't think we'll be making an appearance.
By 'earlier lives' he of course means later than both First Class and Days of Future Past, but earlier than X-Men. And it sounds like somebody told Sir PatStew that there will be no time travel or book ends or anything to bring him into this film. Which is fine by me, as this is supposed to be the third film in this prequel trilogy, closing it all out, and I prefer the new actors to the old ones. I know, I know - heresy. I don't hate McKellen or Stewart in the roles - they're the best things in those original three movies by a long shot - but the vitality of McAvoy and Fassbender is, at this point, more interesting to me.
This does raise the question of what's next after Apocalypse. I can say with almost complete certainty that the franchise is losing Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence after this film. McKellen and Stewart are spry old dudes, and they seem to really like making these films - could they come back to relaunch the series in the modern day?
Here's my post-Apocalypse pitch: X-Men: The New Mutants. Old Xavier and Magneto die during the early part of the film, leaving Jean and Scott in charge of the school and a whole new batch of kids. Drop all the other characters (except Wolverine, of course. They'll milk him until Jackman is six feet under) and have the threat not be another mutant, but something small - Arcade. These new kids are kidnapped to Murderworld, and while Jean and Scott and Logan try to find them the New Mutants actually escape on their own, proving that the next generation of X-Men have what it takes.
It'll probably just be the same old shit, though, with a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants or maybe the Morlocks or something.