Simon Kinberg’s X-Men: Dark Phoenix is reportedly a breath of fresh air for the series, both in front of the camera and behind. After the overstuffed Apocalypse opened to mixed reviews in 2016, Kinberg – who’s been writing X-Men movies since 2006’s The Last Stand – wants to make his directorial debut one to remember. He boarded the franchise as a writer during what was arguably its lowest point. The Last Stand is nobody’s favorite X-Men movie, and Kinberg wanted to focus on Jean Grey all the way back then before studio cuts forced him to relegate her storyline into a much smaller subplot.
From there, Kinberg has gone on to either write or produce the best of the franchise’s later entries, including First Class, Days of Future Past, Logan, and Deadpool. Dark Phoenix, however – which stars Game of Thrones‘ Sophie Turner as a young Jean Grey – is different. Not only does Kinberg have much more creative control, but the story he’s telling here is one he’s been wanting to tell in the X-Men universe since he joined the franchise. And, from what we’ve heard so far, Fox is giving him the budget to push this story as far as it needs to go.
Kinberg discussed the film with Entertainment Weekly, which revealed our first look at the film that you can check out below:
“[The film] was so clear in my head, emotionally and visually, that it would have killed me to hand this to somebody else to direct,” Kinberg says.
Set in 1992, about 10 years after the events of last year’s X-Men: Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix opens with the X-Men, including Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Quicksilver (Evan Peters), in a new, unexpected role: national heroes. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) even lands on the cover of Time magazine. But his growing ego puts the team at risk.
“Pride is starting to get the better of him, and he is pushing the X-Men to more extreme missions,” Kinberg says. After they’re dispatched to space for a rescue mission, a solar flare hits the X-Jet and the surge of energy ignites a malevolent, power-hungry new force within Jean (Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner)— the Phoenix.
Based partially on Chris Claremont’s comic, Phoenix will feature some of the series’ biggest set pieces to date, including the X-Men’s first trip to outer space. It’s also the most sinister, and somber, chapter in the saga and includes a massive twist halfway through that will irrevocably change the course of the franchise. “This is probably the most emotional X-Men we’ve done and the most pathos-driven,” McAvoy says. “There’s a lot of sacrifice and a lot of suffering.”
The movie becomes a fight for Jean’s soul as Phoenix threatens to overtake her mind and divide the X-Men, particularly Jean and her mentor, Charles. “It’s about the butterfly effect of this thing happening,” says Turner, who studied schizophrenia and multiple personality disorders to prepare. “What happens when the person you love the most falls into darkness?”
Additionally, the film comes at a crucial time for Fox’s creative team. After The Last Stand director was outed as a sexual harasser, he and his production company were forced to sever ties with DC and Warner Bros., where he’d been setting up shop as a producer for the last few years. The Last Stand star Ellen Page accused Ratner of sexual harassment and blatant homophobia on-set. However, some more recent allegations regarding Bryan Singer have come to light again, after surfacing in 2014 briefly and dying down just as fast.
Singer, who’s become known for having erratic, unorganized sets in recent years and was even fired from his most recent project – a Queen biopic starring Rami Malek called Bohemian Rhapsody – was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year old boy in 2003. Singer – who’s credited as a producer on X-Men: Dark Phoenix but hasn’t done any work on it directly – denies the allegations, but between him and Brett Ratner, Fox needs a new face for their creative team, and Simon Kinberg is convinced he’s the man for the job.
“I had heard stories of these sets,” admits Jessica Chastain, who plays an otherworldly shapeshifter who comes into contact with Phoenix. “But working with Simon and Hutch and Sophie was the most loving, strong, happy set.” Adds [Jennifer] Lawrence: “It was unrecognizable. Everything was on time. Everything was organized. These movies have always been fun amidst chaos, and now they were fun with no chaos.”
In regards to her character, Chastain said, “Simon and I were talking about the character and I said, ‘I keep thinking of the vet who tells you you need to put your dog down. There’s something very clinical about it.” Chastain is currently starring in Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut, Molly’s Game, which is garnering rave reviews for Sorkin’s writing and Chastain’s performance: you can check out more images from the film below:
X-Men: Dark Phoenix hits theaters on November 2nd, 2018.
Images: Fox, Marvel, Entertainment Weekly
Source: Entertainment Weekly