It’s no secret that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness includes some familiar faces from the wider world of superhero cinema, with a half-dozen heroes from outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe already teased in various trailers.


First among them? Sir Patrick Stewart’s telepathic X-Men leader Professor X, whose voice was heard in an early teaser and who was seen again in a more recent promotion for the new film (plus, you know, he turned up to the premiere – spoiler alert!).

Of course, Stewart’s turn as Professor X in various X-Men movies from 2000 to 2017 is a fan-favourite – but as it turns out, the version of the character he plays in Doctor Strange 2 brings even more nostalgia with him.

Look away now if you haven’t seen the finished film, as we’ll be dealing with some spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness references X-Men '97 with theme music

Patrick Stewart plays Professor X in X-Men 2 (2003)
Patrick Stewart plays Professor X in X-Men 2 (2003) SEAC

Stewart first appears in the film as a member of the Illuminati, a shadowy group of superheroes in a parallel universe who shape events from behind-the-scenes. It’s clear that these are slightly different versions of familiar figures – and Stewart’s Charles Xavier is no exception.

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Rather than the version seen in the X-Men movie, it appears this Professor X is a variant based on the character in the 1990s X-Men TV series. Most obviously, he moves about in the floating yellow chair that was that character’s trademark, but also when he first appears you can hear a few notes from the iconic X-Men TV theme tune (later listed as part of the film’s soundtrack in the credits).

The callbacks don’t stop there – when Professor X uses his powers, the effect is like a circular ripple emanating from his head, a design choice also lifted from the 1990s cartoon.

It’s a great nod for fans of the original, as well as a reminder ahead of the already-announced reboot of the animation coming soon to Disney Plus (in fact, the music is described in the credits as ‘X-Men 97 theme’ specifically).

While it might not matter much to the plot, these choices for Stewart’s return add a little bit more character to what could have been a cash-in cameo. And who knows? If this is one universe’s Professor X, who’s to say we won’t see Stewart as the MCU’s own version in a future film?

If there’s anything that we’ve learned from certain other cameos in Multiverse of Madness, it’s that Marvel fans usually get what they want in the end - no matter how fantastical it might initially seem...

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is out now in cinemas, while you can sign up for Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year. For more, check out our dedicated Fantasy page or our full TV Guide.


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