Impetus: Giancarlo Esposito reveals that he has had meetings with Marvel people for a future role, expresses desire to be Professor X
My knee-jerk reaction to the idea of Gus Fring being Professor X, was absolutely all aboard the train. I get that aside from Captain Picard, the role of Charles Xavier was basically designed to be for Patrick Stewart, but in the age and in light of pursuing change and pursuing the future, I’m hard pressed to imagine anyone more succinctly qualified for the role of Professor X than Giancarlo Esposito.
Like many, my first real exposure to Esposito was him playing Gus Fring in Breaking Bad, and as far as characters go, he’s easily up there as some of my all-time favorites, because I love characters that are cerebral, command respect, and play the long game like a chess grandmaster. I get that throughout his career since, he’s basically been bad guy after bad guy after bad guy, but there’s absolutely no reason to believe that he wouldn’t be capable of playing the cerebral, respect commanding, long game-player like Professor X, plus it’s not like Xavier didn’t make some fucked up choices in his life either.
Esposito is polished, annunciates intelligently and in the manner you’d expect to hear from Professor X, and has been entrenched in sci-fi/comics long enough to where it probably wouldn’t feel inorganic or phony on his part when playing the role. There is absolutely zero reason why he wouldn’t make an excellent Professor X.
Unfortunately, to no surprise, there are plenty of people out there that don’t agree with my enthusiasm for the idea of Gus Fring as Professor X. And the funny-not-really-funny thing about the internet and social media and how we’re spoon-fed occasional comments, is when you see the remarks from people you know, and you’re reading words that don’t really sound that intelligent or, in the case of what I saw, were good examples of peoples’ white privilege soaking through the sponge.
Because in spite of many peoples’ best attempts to try not to be racist but not doing a very good job of doing it, the seemingly number one reason for any sort of opposition of the idea of Giancarlo Esposito as Professor X, really boils down to the fact that he’s not white. I understand that there’s an expectation set by decades of seeing a lily-white Caucasian Professor X in comics and FOX properties, but we live in a world where change is inevitable and is happening very rapidly. But you could go back to 1963 and change the skin tone of Professor X to absolutely any color at all, and it wouldn’t have altered the course of history one bit.
He’d still have has had his legs crushed by the Shadow King. He still would have gone toe-to-toe with Phoenix on the psychic plane. He still would’ve gotten shot by Stryfe and been the first guy to have the Legacy Virus. He still would’ve mind-fucked hundreds of people and become Onslaught. And so forth and so forth. A black Xavier, Hispanic Xavier, Asian Xavier wouldn’t have changed the course of the character’s history one bit. Just because he was white in six decades worth of comic books doesn’t mean he couldn’t be presented as non-white in what would be at the very most, a series of films.
But seeing people take shots at his polish, his acting ability and other reasons to criticize the guy when they’re really just objecting to the fact that his skin tone doesn’t match Ben Affleck’s, is insulting and is bullshit. When the day is over, the right performer should be the one to get the role, regardless of the color of their skin. I mean, look at the shitty 2003 Daredevil speaking of Ben Affleck. The film was horrendous, but one of the few things they did get right was casting a very black Michael Clarke Duncan as the role of the historically very white Kingpin. Regardless of skin color, Duncan is a tank of a man who commands a room, has swag and is convincingly physically invincible, much like the character he portrayed. Naturally, there was much complaints about that as well, but to its credit it still came to fruition.
Plus, Patrick Stewart isn’t getting any younger. Y’all remember seeing his cameo in [spoiler redaction]? Eyes all sinking in with age, not entirely sure the wheelchair was just a prop. When he was a layup for the role of Professor X, those Bryan Singer X-Men flicks were literally two decades ago. Stewart is 82 years old. Eighty-two years old. At the very most, Professor X was probably in his early fifties in the comics, in “present” canon. Absolutely no disrespect to Picard. He is the living embodiment of how Professor X was originally portrayed. But my man is getting old. He is old. He doesn’t need to be continued to be trotted out, and then get the digital Luke Skywalker treatment. Let the change happen. Change. Is. Needed.
Hopefully the stiffs at Disney/Marvel/ESPN/FOX will be capable of not caving into their white racist brethren when it comes time to eventually start casting for the introduction of mutants into the MCU, and make the right fucking call: Giancarlo Esposito as Professor X.