Michael Fassbender has reflected on his time as the younger version of Magneto in the X-Men movies throughout the 2010s, and explained one particular quirk that eagle-eyed (or, more accurately, eared) fans will have picked up on.
Speaking with Vanity Fair in a breakdown of his entire career, the X-Men star explained why his X-Men character‘s accent changes throughout the series, and it’s all Ian McKellen’s fault. “When we did X-Men First Class I talked to [director] Matthew Vaughn about the accent. Should I go in the direction of McKellen? And Matthew was like, ‘No use your accent, it’s so weird and funny. I like it.’ And then when we got to Days of Future Past, Ian McKellen was going to be in the same movie as me.”
Clearly, that posed an obvious problem: it’d be very jarring to have a younger and older version of the same character in one movie doing different accents. But, Fassbender changing his accent between the movies would also sound strange to anyone rewatching the X-Men movies in order. It was a no-win scenario.
It was eventually agreed that Fassbender adopting something closer to McKellen’s accent would be the lesser of two evils. “So I then was like, ‘OK, well I better start trying to speak more like Ian McKellen, because we’re both going to be in the film together.”
He concluded, “So I actually changed it in Days of Future Past because we were both going to be in the same villain.”
The truth is, unless you’re watching the two movies back to back in some kind of grand Marvel marathon, it’s hard to notice the subtle change in Fassbender’s voice. His accent in First Class already has a twang of British in it, which he only emphasizes more for the brilliant sequel Days of Future Past.
Either way, regardless of the accent, Fassbender’s Magneto is one of the absolute highlights across the X-Men movies, and our hot take is that the Irish actor embodies the metal-manipulating Marvel villain better than McKellen. It’s his presence that helps to turn Days of Future Past into one of the best movies in the whole series, despite the mind-bending time travel.
Of course, after the excellent one-two punch of First Class and Days of Future Past, the semi-rebooted X-Men series struggled to maintain its quality. The subsequent Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix were duds, as Fassbender’s role in the series decreased to make way for a litany of other villains.
Now, the X-Men are becoming MCU canon as Marvel prepares for another reboot, bringing the mutant time in line with the rest of the MCU’s continuity. That leaves plenty of potential, but one thing’s for certain: finding a better Magneto than McKellen is going to be an impossible task.