While the X-MEN spinoffs DEADPOOL 2 and NEW MUTANTS have been slowly revealing new details and bits of casting, word has been largely quiet on X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX, the next film in the main X-MEN saga. Production is set to get underway this summer, but we didn’t know who would be starring or even who was directing, although it was rumored that longtime producer and writer Simon Kinberg would be making his directorial debut on the feature.
Now it looks like all engines are go for DARK PHOENIX. Deadline reports that Kinberg is officially set to direct his own screenplay (we reported back in February that he was circling the project), and most of the main players from X-MEN: APOCALYPSE—Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), James McAvoy (Professor X), Nicholas Hoult (Beast), Alexandra Shipp (Storm), Sophie Turner (Jean Grey), Tye Sheridan (Cyclops), and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Nightcrawler)—are set to return (the notable absence is Evan Peters, who plays Quicksilver). Filming is set to take place in Montreal.
For those unfamiliar with the DARK PHOENIX story from the comics, it involves Jean Grey, whose powers become seriously amplified when she comes into contact with a cosmic entity known as the Phoenix. It eventually took over her personality, turning her into the “Dark Phoenix” that the X-MEN had to defeat.
The Dark Phoenix previously appeared in X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (co-written by Kinberg), but was changed to be a split personality that Professor X buried in Jean Grey’s psyche. The Phoenix emerged when Jean Grey came back from the dead and was manipulated into working alongside Magneto.
It appears that DARK PHOENIX will be going in drastically different direction (although one that should be familiar to fans of the comics), and taking the X-MEN universe cosmic with THR reporting that Jessica Chastain is in talks to play the villain, “Lilandra, the empress of an alien empire called the Shi’ar, who leads the quest to imprison and execute Dark Phoenix, leading her into conflict with the X-Men.”
That’s an impressive gathering of talent for a story that’s going to be heavily VFX driven, which is even more surprising when you consider that X-MEN: APOCALYPSE was critically mixed (48% on Rotten Tomatoes) and it made significantly less than X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST. Rather than the franchise fading, it appears to be resurgent.
I’m not sure if everyone just wants to go out on a high note or if Fox gave a dump truck full of money to Lawrence, Fassbender, McAvoy, and Hoult (whose contracts expired after Apocalypse), but DARK PHOENIX shows no signs of slowing down.
X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX is set to open on November 2, 2018.