As 2017 winds to a close, we’re starting to get a first look at some very big 2018 movies. That includes X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX, the upcoming X-MEN sequel that proves to be different than anything that came before. Simon Kinberg, who wrote and/or produced X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, APOCALYPSE, FANTASTIC FOUR, and DEADPOOL, is making his directorial debut on DARK PHOENIX, taking over directing duties from Bryan Singer who helmed the last two X-MEN films.
Kinberg wrote the script himself as well, and while fans have been curious to see just how true to the title this movie will be, it’s been revealed in EW’s new cover story that yes, X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX is going to space. Indeed the film appears to be adapting the Dark Phoenix comics saga pretty closely, as EW confirms that the X-Men are dispatched to space for a rescue mission:
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.
EW teases “a massive twist halfway through that will irrevocably change the course of the franchise.” For his part, McAvoy agrees that it’s a very emotional outing:
“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.”
In order to properly visualize the firey transformation of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) into Phoenix, the new X-Men film has a longer post-production period than usual — nearly a year. Explains director Simon Kinberg, “I wanted the post time to deliver on the nuance of the visual effects, not just the scale of them. That takes time.”
DARK PHOENIX will be the first time the X-MEN venture into space as seen in this concept art. At the beginning of the film, the team is dispatched on a rescue mission but a solar flare hits the X-Jet. Jean uses her power to save the team but the extreme surge of energy unlocks the Phoenix.
The MOLLY’S GAME star plays an otherwordly shapeshifter who manipulates Phoenix for her own agenda. Chastain’s villain is quiet but brutal. “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,'” says the actress of her inspiration. “There’s something very clinical about it.”
Jennifer Lawrence’s mutant is back with a new bob. And she’s also more mature. “She’s grown up a lot,” says Lawrence. “She’s more maternal which surprised me. She starts to get more protective of the [school] children and Charles wants to push them to prove to the world that mutants can be good for humanity and I just see them as small children.”
Turner studied multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia in order to play Jean’s duality. “So many scenes I have to go from broken-down Jean — that’s when she’s most subsceptible to Phoenix infiltrating her — to this confident, arrogant, judgmental character within milliseconds.”
DARK PHOENIX is, well, dark as evidenced by this photo of Charles (James McAvoy), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Storm (Alexandra Shipp) mourning something or somebody. “I would call Dark Phoenix a drama,” says Lawrence. “We have really great action scenes and we go to space like within the first five minutes of the movie. So it’s definitely exciting but emotionally all these characters are taking the biggest, most extreme dives than they have in the whole series.”
X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX also stars Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, and Jessica Chastain and hits theaters on November 2, 2018.