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, and it continues a long tradition of the character dying in one film and somehow returning in another. With his brief Professor X cameo in Doctor Strange 2, Patrick Stewart regained his record as the longest-running actor to play a Marvel character on-screen, beating even Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe, who returned in Spider-Man: No Way Home. In this journey that has spanned more than 20 years, Stewart’s Professor X honored all of the character’s defining traits, including his recurring deaths.
Characters dying and coming back is nothing new to comic books, but the X-Men have an even longer history with this trope. Along with Jean Grey, Charles Xavier is one of the mutants in the Marvel universe who has died the most, and yet both of them always find a way to come back. Between reboots, time travel, and alternate universes, options were never lacking as to how to retcon a major X-Men death.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness‘ Illuminati lineup brought together alternate versions of characters the MCU already knew and heroes still unseen in the franchise, including Professor Xavier. This marked the third time Patrick Stewart’s Xavier returned after dying in his previous appearance, and it ended with Professor X’s list of deaths getting even longer after his battle against Scarlet Witch. Here is a breakdown of every time has Professor X died in the movies and how Patrick Stewart was able to return.
Killed By Jean Grey In X-Men: The Last Stand
Sixteen years before Doctor Strange 2, Charles Xavier already had to deal with an overly powerful fallen hero who had become a threat to herself and others. Similar to what happens with Scarlet Witch in Doctor Strange 2, Jean Grey in X-Men: The Last Stand had become overwhelmed by her own powers and was no longer the friend the X-Men knew, becoming the Dark Phoenix. Early in the film, she killed Cyclops unceremoniously, which proved that no one was safe. Even so, the moment that Jean Grey killed Professor Xavier was still 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. Against Jean Grey, however, he was no match.
Though brutal, Professor X’s death in X-Men 3 did not last long. Xavier had his body reduced to atoms by Jean, but before that, he managed to transfer his consciousness into the body of a comatose man. This is shown in the X-Men: The Last Stand’s post-credits scene, although it was never made clear if that patient was Xavier’s twin brother or if Professor X began projecting his former image into other people’s minds. Either way, that is how Patrick Stewart’s Professor X was able to return in the post-credits scene of The Wolverine and in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Killed By A Sentinel In X-Men: Days Of Future Past
Taking those who had not seen or did not remember the post-credits scenes of X-Men: The Last Stand and The Wolverine by surprise, X-Men: Days of Future Past showed Professor Xavier as one of the surviving X-Men that joined the resistance led by Kitty Pride. While Charles could not be of much help in the final fight against the Sentinels and could not bear to have his mind sent decades into the past like Logan, Patrick Stewart’s Xavier had a touching moment in which he talks with his younger self, played by James McAvoy in a crossover as good as the one in Spider-Man: No Way Home’s multiverse. However, like all mutants in that timeline, Charles was no match for the power of the Sentinels. In the climax of the film, there was almost nothing left for the Sentinels to destroy, and one of the machines fired a blast of energy at Professor X. Once again, Xavier’s death would not last long. In fact, right after the Sentinel’s blast, young Mystique gave up on committing the murder that would lead to the passing of Project Sentinel, thus completely changing history and resetting the timeline. With that action, it meant that not only Professor X, but also Jean Grey and Cyclops were alive.
Killed By X-24 In Logan
The new, happy future shown in the Days of Future Past restored X-Men timeline also did not last long. At some point, Professor X developed Alzheimer’s disease, which, considering his incredibly powerful mind, led to a tragic accident in which all of the X-Men were killed. Professor Xavier’s bleak future in Logan would become even worse, as he would then be killed by the Wolverine clone X-24, all while thinking it was Logan who was in front of him. Given how close Xavier and Logan were, it is tragic that Xavier died believing it was his friend who killed him. Unlike the two previous deaths, Professor X’s death in Logan was never actually reversed. However, that does not mean there were no other ways for Patrick Stewart to return to the role. Five years after Logan, Stewart would join the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness cast.
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 Future Past, did not delve into very complex sci-fi-fi concepts, the MCU does not have the same restrictions. With the introduction of the multiverse and Disney’s purchase of Fox, all cards were now on the table in terms of X-Men or Fantastic Four-related characters appearing in the franchise. Naturally, it would not be long before the MCU started to make the most of all these new possibilities. In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Professor X exists in one of the universes Doctor Strange visits thanks to America Chavez’s powers, a universe known as Earth-838. This is not the same Xavier from the X-Men films, but, in a nod to Marvel history, Patrick Stewart appeared to be playing the version of Professor X from the 1990s cartoon X-Men: The Animated Series.
However, unsurprisingly, he was killed off again. This time, Professor X perished after losing a mental battle against Scarlet Witch while trying to free Earth-838’s Wanda from Scarlet Witch’s mind control. Scarlet Witch’s mental powers were so strong that having his neck broken during their battle of the mind caused Professor X’s actual neck to break. 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 the Earth-616 version – continuing Professor X’s long tradition of dying and then showing up again–even if it’s not the same actor in the chair.
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