James McAvoy is Professor X in X-Men: First Class

20th Century Fox has officially signed James McAvoy to play a young Professor X in Kick-Ass helmer Matthew Vaughn‘s X-Men series prequel/reboot X-Men: First Class. McAvoy is certainly a capable actor who has done the comic book movie thing before with Wanted.

Discuss: Is McAvoy a good choice for young Charles Xavier?

Here is the official plot synopsis:

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, following the classic Marvel mythology, charts the epic beginning of the X-Men saga.  Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were closest of friends, working together, with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. In the process, a rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-Men.

source: Heatvision

Previously:

Bryan Singer was originally attached to return to the X-Men franchise to helm this new film, but his commitment to Jack The Giant Killer at Warner Bros will prevent him from directing. In fact, it was Singer’s take on the story that got Fox so excited about the project in the first place. Originally the film was going to be about a new class of mutants that would consist of some of the characters not featured in the original trilogy.

But Singer’s treatment was a Str Trek-style reboot/prequel, which will focus on “the formative years of Xavier and Magneto, and the formation of the school and where there [sic] relationship took a wrong turn.” Singer has previously admitted that First Class would “probably utilize some of the [planned/announced X-Men Origins:] Magneto story because it deals with a young Magneto,” and that “it might supersede” that plan because this new movie would explore “that relationship between a young energetic professor and a disenfranchised victim of the Holocaust.”

“It’s basically about the formation of the X-Men. How they began and the relationship between a young Xavier and a young Magneto.”

The day after Jamie Moss handed in his first draft, Fox head Tom Rothman fast-tracked the project.  It was at this moment that Warner Bros informed Singer that they would not delay the production of Jack and the Giant Killer. Singer will still produce the project. I’ve heard the script is solid, and everyone who has read it is excited to make it.

Matthew Vaughn beat out eight directors to take the helm: Louis Leterrier, Jonathan Mostow, Daniel Espinosa, Rupert Sanders, Timur Bekmambetov, David Slade, and Carl Erick Rinsch.

This is a weird turn of events, as you might recall that Vaughn was originally set to direct X-Men 3: The Last Stand after series director Bryan Singer left the franchise for Superman Returns. Vaughn ended up quitting the production due to “a huge amount of studio pressure to finish the film in a very short amount of time, with a script he felt was flawed and a large amount of studio interference.” Vaughn dropped out only a few weeks before filming was set to begin. And as you know, Fox was able to sign Brett Ratner to direct that sequel.

The film is set to go into production this Summer, and the studio has set a June 3rd 2011 release date.

Here are some official quotes:

“I’ve been a fan of Matthew’s since LAYER CAKE,” said Singer. “He has a deft hand with multiple characters and storylines, and a great love of the X-Men universe. I feel the combination of this story and his vision will make for an exciting and original X-Men film.”

Added Twentieth Century Fox president of production, Emma Watts: “X-Men: First Class presents an exciting opportunity to further explore the history and relationships of these beloved characters. Matthew’s combination of talent, verve and vision is perfectly suited to the task.”

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