The Best Magneto Actor Returning To The Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Magneto, as played by Sir Ian McKellen, was hinted at returning in a recent interview with Patrick Stewart.

By Phillip Moyer | Published

ian mckellen magneto secret wars
Ian McKellan as Magneto

Michael Fassbender did a fine job playing Magneto in the newest X-Men films, but neither he nor anyone else, could truly replace the legendary Sir Ian McKellen in that role. Unfortunately for comic book fans, he hasn’t starred in a superhero film since the time-jumping 2014 film X-Men: Days of Future Past. However, the cryptic hint Patrick Stewart gave to ETOnline means what we think it means, Ian McKellen might reprise his role in an upcoming MCU film.

This hint came as Stewart discussed his cameo in the 2022 film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, once again playing the role of X-Men mentor Charles Xavier. Former Magneto actor Ian McKellen found out about his old friend’s appearance in the film, he had an enthusiastic response.

Actually, it went very well. He did say something like [‘Hey, I would’ve done this!’], yes that’s true. But we’re not done, Sir Ian and myself. We’re… we got plans

Patrick Stewart on working with Ian McKellen

Both Magneto actor Ian McKellen and Xavier actor Patrick Stewart played a role in kickstarting the modern superhero boom by appearing in the original early-2000s X-Men Trilogy. With Stewart playing the idealistic hero and McKellen the sympathetic villain, both actors helped catapult the genre into the minds of mainstream audiences. If it weren’t for the success of these X-Men films and the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy, there might never have been a 2008 Iron-Man film or the hyper-successful Marvel Cinematic Universe that followed.

Of course, playing Magneto is only half of Ian McKellen’s claim to fame in modern geekdom. The 83-year-old actor also played the heroic wizard Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, along with Jackson’s and his less-amazing trilogy based on The Hobbit

ian mckellen secret wars
Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto

Save for the small role his version of Magneto played in Days of Future Past, Ian McKellen practically dropped his well-loved role after Michael Fassbender took it over in X-Men: First Class. However, Patrick Stewart returned to the role in the 2017 film Logan, reinterpreting the character as a frail old man whose dementia has caused him to lose control of his powers. The success of Logan helped cement Stewart in the minds of superhero fans and may have led directly to his appearance in Multiverse of Madness.

Patrick Stewart’s hint was cryptic enough that we can’t really say what MCU film (or films) the version of Magneto played by Ian McKellan will appear in, but there are two strong possibilities. One possibility is that they could both appear in the upcoming Deadpool 3, which will co-star Hugh Jackman as Wolverine alongside Ryan Reynolds as the titular Merc with a Mouth. Equally likely is the upcoming Avengers: Secret Wars, which we know very little about but will probably feature so many characters that it’d be easier to name people who won’t appear in it. 

While he does have some projects in production, such as the crime drama The Critic and the Shakespearean Hamlet Within, no role as big as Magneto or Gandalf has popped up for Ian McKellan in recent years. However, his response to Stewart’s cameo hints that McKellen is at least a little bit hungry for a return to a role that brought him nationwide fame. Unfortunately, it looks like comic fans will just have to wait to find out when, or if, McKellen’s Magneto will return.