Dwayne Johnson To Replace Ian McKellen as ‘X-Men’s Biggest Villain in Disney Reboot: Report

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Split image featuring Dwayne Johnson in a jungle setting from the Jungle Cruise on the left and Ian McKellen as Magneto from X-Men on the right, standing against a metallic X symbol background.

Credit: Inside the Magic

Looks like it’s time for Magneto 2.0.

A muscular man, Dwayne Johnson, standing in front of a red and white marvel logo, looking serious. he is bald and wearing a tight black t-shirt.
Credit: Marvel / Universal Pictures

Related: Goodbye Superman: Henry Cavill Poised To Become Disney’s New Cap in MCU (Report)

With Robert Downey Jr. bidding farewell as Tony Stark/Iron Man, making a self-sacrifice to defeat Thanos (Josh Brolin), and Chris Evans stepping down as Steve Rogers/Captain America, passing on the Cap mantle, there’s now a significant opportunity for superhero teams like the Fantastic Four and X-Men to step into prominent roles within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Iron Man's side hero lineup during Captain America: Civil War, (left to right) Black Panther, Vision, Iron Man, Black Widow, and War Machine
Credit: Marvel Studios

As the Multiverse broadens the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) into uncharted territories, characters from alternate dimensions, such as those from the Sony Spider-Man Universe (SSU) and the Fox X-Men Universe (formerly 20th Century Fox, now 20th Century Studios under The Walt Disney Company), are poised to join the narrative.

A quirky and colorful comic book-style illustration of deadpool sitting on the floor with members of the fantastic four relaxed in a vintage living room.
Credit: Inside the Magic

Related: Disney To Cut Four Iconic Heroes From Next ‘Avengers’ Lineup: Report

This includes X-Men franchise characters such as Deadpool/Wade Wilson (self-named “Marvel Jesus”), played by Ryan Reynolds, and Wolverine/Logan/James Howlett, famously portrayed by Hugh Jackman. Jackman’s eagerly awaited movie, Deadpool & Wolverine, also known as Deadpool 3, marks the only Marvel Studios theatrical release of 2024.

Dwayne Johnson in front of Jumanji banner and Maui and Moana from Disney's 'Moana' (2016)
Dwayne Johnson Image Credit: AP

With rumors running rampant that The Walt Disney Company and Kevin Feige-led Marvel Studios are looking to flesh out a “Mutant Saga” following the upcoming Avengers 5 (formerly Avengers: The Kang Dynasty) and Avengers 6, or Avengers: Secret Wars, which will seemingly wrap up the Phase Four, Phase Five, and Phase Six-spanning Multiverse Saga.

Naturally, that leaves room for a whole new crop of baddies on the block — and Disney favorite Dwayne Johnson might just be jumping ship from DC to Marvel for the chance.

Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam
Credit: Warner Bros.

Dwayne Johnson’s New Marvel Role?

According to anonymous Hollywood insider and Marvel scooper My Time To Shine Hello, the Moana (2016) and Jungle Cruise (2021) star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is headed to the Marvel big leagues.

Marvel Film News shared the following post on X/Twitter, which identifies the Marvel comic book icon Johnson would play, the X-Men franchise’s Apocalypse:


Marvel wants Dwayne Johnson to play Apocalypse


A bit more unexpected, however, is the rather negative response from Marvel fans.

While some seem okay with this reported casting:

@chris_eternal_: Honestly, not bad.

A majority of fans appear less convinced, especially after Johnson’s alleged insistence over at Warner Bros. DC Studios that he would play Black Adam if he faced up against the Justice League and Superman/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) instead of being Billy Batson/Shazam’s (Zachary Levi/Asher Angel) arch-foe, like in the DC comic books:

@DonutStalker93: I don’t know, he might start throwing his weight around behind the scenes and insist on Apocalypse fighting the Avengers instead of the X-Men like he did with Black Adam fighting Superman instead of Shazam 🙄


Who is Apocalypse?

Apocalypse, or En Sabah Nur, is a powerful mutant — whose name translates to “The First One” — and villain from the Marvel Comics, originating thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt. Abandoned as a baby for his blue-gray skin, his core belief in “survival of the fittest” drives him to seek mutant supremacy over humanity. He often tests mutants to determine their worthiness for his vision of a new world order.

Poster art from X-Men: The Last Stand
Credit: 20th Century Studios

Throughout Marvel’s history, Apocalypse has been a central antagonist in X-Men storylines, clashing with the X-Men and Avengers superhero teams. His influence spans centuries, manipulating events to further his agenda of mutant dominance. Originally depicted as someone with a decent heart, En Sabah Nur is a complex villain, challenging heroes both physically and philosophically.

The similarities to Magneto or Erik Lehnsherr are definitely there. Apocalypse, however, is a much older, more primordial mutant foe, tested by the crucible of time in a way that Magneto — whose storyline is tied to the (relatively) more recent World War II Holocaust — is not.

Marvel has a chance to expand other heroes like the Moon Knight (Oscar Isaac) and Egyptian god Khonshu, and establish their own mutant and X-Men history within the mainline MCU’s “Sacred Timeline.” Disney is unlikely to let this opportunity slip by, especially if it means securing Johnson as a central Marvel star.

Do you think Dwayne Johnson should replace Magneto as the villain of the X-Men in the MCU? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

More on X-Men

Key players involved in the Fox X-Men story included Patrick Stewart portraying Professor X/Charles Xavier, Ian McKellen as Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr, Halle Berry as Ororo Munroe/Storm, Famke Janssen as Dr. Jean Grey, James Marsden as Scott Summers/Cyclops, Rebecca Romijn as Mystique/Raven Darkholme, Alan Cumming as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler, Kelsey Grammer as Beast/Hank McCoy, and Anna Paquin as Marie D’Ancanto, known as Rogue, among others.

After the release of films such as X-Men: First Class (2011), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), and X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), the franchise delved into prequel storylines and tackled concepts of time travel. These movies introduced younger iterations of iconic characters like Professor Xavier, Magneto, and Mystique, portrayed by James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence, respectively.

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