Mutant movie series X-Men has a gay rights message, actor Ian McKellen says.
The 74-year-old Hobbit star told a Buzzfeed Brews interview that he signed on for the franchise in 2000 after director Bryan Singer explained the significance of the film.
"I was sold it by Bryan who said, 'Mutants are like gays. They're cast out by society for no good reason,"' McKellen said.
"And, as in all civil rights movements, they have to decide: Are they going to take the Xavier line - which is to somehow assimilate and stand up for yourself and be proud of what you are, but get on with everybody - or are you going to take the alternative view - which is, if necessary, use violence to stand up for your own rights.
"And that's true. I've come across that division within the gay rights movement."
Marvel told him many X-Men comic fans were young Jewish people, young black people and young gay people who might "feel a little bit like mutants".
McKellen's X-Men co-star Ellen Page, who plays Kitty Pryde in the films, came out as gay during a Human Rights Campaign event this month.
"I'm here today because I am gay," Page said on stage, "and because maybe I can make a difference. To help others have an easier and more hopeful time.
"Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility."
McKellen is proud of Page.
"That gladdened my heart so much," he said.
McKellen and Page appear in the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past, set for release in New Zealand on May 22.