Film - What If: Carry On X-Men

Susan Omand picks up on an idea from Twitter for a slightly different fantasy casting. What if...

It’s funny how the mind works isn’t it? There we were, in the middle of an impromptu live-tweet of X-Men Apocalypse, thanks to Steve, Steve, wine and a wager, and up pops Romeo Kennedy, with a random tweet...

... and that got me thinking. Why HADN’T there been a Carry On spoof of anything in Marvel Universe? So I went and did some date checking. The first X-Men comic came out in the US in 1963. By then we had had at least half a dozen Carry On films, so chronologically it was possible. But it’s maybe that geographical disparity that meant the cross-over wouldn’t happen. Marvel UK, an imprint of Marvel that was set up to print the US stories for the UK comics market, only came into existence in 1972 (although certain Marvel strips had appeared in other UK magazines before that) and Marvel characters only really hit TV screens with a major impact in 1977/78 with The Incredible Hulk and Spiderman both getting prime time TV slots, and the Carry On films had stopped production by then. [Editor’s note: for the purposes of this article we are denying the existence of Carry on Columbus as any self-respecting film watcher should.] So I feel it is my duty to do the necessary thought experiment and see who I would have cast if the X-Men film franchise had been done by the Carry On team.

I will admit that I really enjoyed the Carry On films back in the day because I remember watching them on TV regularly as a family event when I was a kid and laughed along with my parents. Looking back on them now, they’re very much of their time in describing the politically incorrect humour of the nation and that’s very likely why their attempted ‘90’s reboot didn’t work out, because the basis for the comedy was solidly frowned upon by then. But back in the era of 1970’s TV, the jokes still worked. So I’m taking my casting decisions from the era of films I remember enjoying most, which is pretty much from Carry on Cleo to Carry on Up the Khyber – the technicolor heyday of Carry On films – so, when you’re imagining the actors, because it's difficult to find photos of them, think of them as they were in these films.

So I have my cast, which characters to fit them to? Since the latest in the franchise, X-Men Apocalypse, was the film to kick this whole thought process off, I’m going to go back to the first of the X-Men films, in 2000, to begin the adventure all over again. Here goes...

Professor Xavier

First on the list but actually, in my head, last to be cast, because he’s such a complex character that can’t easily be defined in a couple of character traits. Sharp of mind and even sharper of tongue, a strong leader but not part of the team, I’m giving the role of Professor X to someone that didn’t appear in as many Carry On films as he should have done as his sense of comedy is a perfect fit but he was too busy on other projects, Frankie Howerd.


I had toyed with the idea of using this actor in the role of Professor X but there’s no point in trying to pretend that actually Magneto would be anyone other than Kenneth Williams. The dry wit, sardonic comments and egotistical haughtiness of Williams’ roles in the Carry On films fits Magneto to a T.


There’s really only one person that could adequately play the role that Hugh Jackman has made his own in the current X-Men films. Laid back and laconic with a biting humour and a suitable disdain for the world, this has to be Sid James.

Jean Grey

As a character, Jean Grey is the most powerful of the X-Men, therefore we need a formidable actress in the part and, from the Carry On team, there is nobody with more of an indomitable presence than Hattie Jacques.


The eyes have it here and, as the character doesn’t need to “look” powerful but still have that ability to step up after lulling everyone into a false sense of security with his meekness, I have gone for Charles Hawtrey.


The weather witch with an assertive streak has to be Joan Sims, more than able to hold her own against the best of the boys but not nearly as stand-offish as Jean Grey.


Rogue was quite a difficult one to cast. If I was going to gender-swap the role, it would have been a shoe-in for Jim Dale as it needs that younger, almost unsure, self-consciousness for the character to blossom. In the end though I went with Angela Douglas, most memorable for me as the gentle and genteel Princess Jelhi in Carry on Up the Khyber.


Sabretooth is the product of both genetic mutation and artificial enhancement, known more for his strength, stamina and acuity of senses and intuition than his quick thinking. Incredibly loyal and virtually unbreakable, this role goes to the wonderful Bernard Bresslaw.


Beautiful, blue and strong-willed but with an equally strong caring side, protective of the waifs and strays, Mystique is neither a good guy nor a bad guy, siding just as much with Magneto as Professor X, a mother figure to Rogue and a betrayer of Logan, this individual character can only be played by the independent spirit that is Barbara Windsor.

So there we have it – Carry On X-Men. Let us know in the comments if you disagree with any of the casting (even though some say you would be wrong) or if you can think of any other characters that would work out – after all, we still haven’t cast a few of the great stalwarts of the Carry On team as anyone yet and there’s plenty of mutants available.

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