Is Ian McKellen Trying to Take Over the World? All Signs Point To Yes

We all love Ian McKellen. We love his thespian bravado, his genteel sophistication, and his adorable real life friendship with Patrick Stewart. But the most impressive thing about the actor isn’t his performative prowess or bona fide charm, but instead his business acumen (which he just might be using to slowly but surely take over the world). The latest step in his maniacal plan? Ian McKellen is taking on the role of Cogsworth in Disney’s live action remake of Beauty and the Beast.

McKellen will enliven the anthropomorphic carriage clock, providing a doubtlessly charming addition to the waveringly promising cast of Emma Watson (as Belle), Dan Stevens (as the Beast), Emma Thompson (as Mrs. Potts), Kevin Kline (as Belle’s father Maurice), Luke Evans (as Gaston), Josh Gad (as Le Fou), and Audra McDonald (as the Garderobe). Good news on the surface, until you realize that McKellen is slowly vying for total imperialism of Western pop culture.

Throughout the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, McKellen starred in a vast array of Shakespeare plays set to film and television, including Edward II, Hamlet, Macbeth, and Richard III, staking early claim to a permanent seat in the realm of adaptations of the Bard — a well that’d never dry up.

In the year 2000, McKellen hitched his wagon to the X-Men franchise, a precursor to the comic book craze and the longest extant superhero series in Hollywood production. A year later, he signed onto Peter Jackson’s first J.R.R. Tolkien movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which would beget two follow-ups and a trio of The Hobbit movies over the course of the next 13 years.

And now, catching wind of the long line of live-action remakes that Disney is setting forward, McKellen has found new territory fruitful enough for his stake. Here’s a guy who knows how to spot the beginnings of a franchise, and gets in on the action from the ground up.

With his name on a premiere superhero series, an Academy Award-winning film adaptation of the bestselling book series of all time, and now a remake of one of the most popular animated movies produced by the kingpin of the field, McKellen might be becoming almost too powerful. And he shows no signs of stunting his endeavors.

The near future promises the arrival of a new batch of Star Wars pictures, the likes of which certainly have a place for an articulate and stately Brit like McKellen. As Disney is dealing in both sequels and prequels to the established films of the Star Wars canon, we could see an actor McKellen take on a new character (plucked from the Expanded Universe) or one familiar to theatrical audiences. For instance, Emperor Palpatine.

Palpatine was first brought to life in Return of the Jedi by Ian McDirmind, who’d play the character in the Prequel Trilogy before handing him off to Ian Abercrombie for the small-screen outing Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Sensing a pattern here? A third Ian would be the right choice for the leader of the Empire.

How about Disney’s other venture, the Marvel Universe? Not long ago, McKellen’s association with the X-Men movies might have exempted him from any possible connection to Kevin Feige’s broad world of superhero magic. But recent bridges built between Disney’s Marvel films and Sony’s Spider-Man properties suggest that anything is possible; McKellen’s ascension to the top dog of superhero franchises might not be so farfetched after all.

And as we do not have quite the eye for blockbuster-franchises-in-the-making that McKellen seems to, we’re surely overlooking a few potential big winners. Perhaps his upcoming Mr. Holmes could sprout a whole new line of adventures for literature’s most famous detective. Maybe his rumored headlining position in a developing Noel Coward biopic could lend to a series of movies about the playwright’s life — or better yet, interest in adaptations of his plays! And possibly, his delayed comedy The Case of the Buxom Strumpet could lead to…well, let’s see if that even comes out.

All in all, we can (and should) celebrate the talents of Ian McKellen as he takes to the screen as Magneto, Gandalf, and now Cogsworth. But let’s keep an eye on him… the world could become his at any moment.

Images: Getty; New Line Cinema; Disney; 20th Century Fox