James McAvoy will stand at the head of ‘X-Men: First Class’


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EXCLUSIVE: Fox is moving at superheroic speed to begin filling out the members of “X-Men: First Class” -- starting with the man who leads the pack.

The studio is hiring James McAvoy to play the role of Charles Xavier, the professor who organizes the X-Men band of mutants into a group (and force for good). Patrick Stewart played Xavier in the original set of pictures, but of course as an origin story, many of the characters in “First Class” will skew younger.


McAvoy, who’s next up in the Robert Redford post-Civil War drama “The Conspirator,” has played in films with superhero themes before, primarily as a lead character in the assassin picture “Wanted.”

Matthew Vaughn is directing the new “X-Men,” which is set to start shooting this summer. With McAvoy’s casting, get ready for a new raft of mutants to follow not far behind him.

-- Steven Zeitchik

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