The end of the X-Men film franchise is likely in sight, what with Disney buying 20th Century Fox. Which means Dark Phoenix could very well be the last time we see these iterations of our favourite mutants. But, after the disappointment of X-Men Apocalypse, and numerous reshoots for this sequel, Dark Phoenix ain’t looking too good. The first trailer finally dropped, and feels strangely familiar. Like it is rehashing X-Men: The Last Stand, even down to the visuals.
Disclaimer: This article contains potential spoilers for Dark Phoenix, but most of this is pure speculation. If we are somehow right, like the rest of the internet, then hot diggity!
For those unfamiliar, in the X-Men comics, Jean Grey died during a space-faring mission with the other X-Men. But, she was possessed and resurrected by a cosmic entity known as the Phoenix Force. This made Jean’s powers go up to eleven, but also made her coco for Coco Puffs. The manipulations of the evil Mastermind led to the Dark Phoenix to emerge from her personality. Those who have watched the original X-Men film trilogy will be familiar with some of these aspects; though in that timeline, the Phoenix was an extension of Jean’s powers.
Right away, the film is taking familiar plot points from The Last Stand. A young Jean is brought to the X-Mansion after her parents die in a rather brutal car crash. It is implied that was caused by the awakening of Jean’s psychic powers. Perhaps her powers were so strong, they activated before puberty, the common trigger for mutations. At some point, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) created psychic blocks to shield Jean from her destructive powers, and the memory of the crash. However, Sophie Turner studied dissociative identity disorder and schizophrenia to prepare for this film. Perhaps like in The Last Stand, Jean’s powers created an alter ego of sorts, which will eventually merge with the Phoenix Force.
Speaking of which, the film is set in the 1990s, and the X-Men now act like the Thunderbirds and perform space rescues. It is during such a task that Jean is struck by the Phoenix Force, and absorbs it. This starts changing Jean’s personality, boosting her powers, and breaking down the psychic barriers that Chuck set up. Everyone appears to be mad at Charles for what he did, though he claims it was to protect her. This sounds awfully similar to how Charles justified himself in The Last Stand.
Jean likely sets out to get some answers away from the clingy, controlling Charles. The X-Men, sporting new outfits akin to their classic uniforms, go to retrieve her and all hell breaks loose. Jean and the team can be seen in a neighbourhood that looks similar to the one in The Last Stand. Interestingly, the police cars that show up are named as the “Red Hook PD”. This could be a nod to the X-Men television series Legion, which is set in a mental hospital in Red Hook, New Jersey.
A fight might break out when the cops show up, likely considering Jean to be dangerous. Piecing the trailer together also hints that a major character will die – specifically Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). We know Lawrence has wanted out of her blue makeup for some time, so this will likely be her last performance in the role. The heavy emphasis on a funeral also hints she’s a gonner.
Beast (Nicholas Hoult) appears to have an epic falling out with Charles over Mystique’s death, since they were…close. Mystique’s death would not only impact Charles, but also Magneto (Michael Fassbender). Speaking of old helmet head, Magneto appears to have set up a mutant safe zone on the island of Genosha. But, it looks like Jean will come calling to get some answers, or help with her predicament. Magneto will likely view Jean as a danger, judging by his uneasy glances he gave her at the end of X-Men Apocalypse. Magneto will witness Jean using her powers to cause harm, convincing him to come out of retirement and don his iconic helmet.
Magneto and Beast will join forces to likely avenge Mystique, opposing Charles and the rest of the X-Men. While we are likely going to have another round of Charles vs. Magneto, Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) needs to play a key role, being Jean’s tether to sanity. One thing I noticed is that Jean’s change in personality is symbolised via her change in look. To begin with her, her hair is straight and she is dressed rather saintly. But, as things go on, she takes on a more wilder appearance. And hopefully without the evil black eyes and scary veins she had the last time she went nuts.
Jessica Chastain appears as the mysterious villain of the piece. Her character is described as a “shapeshifter”, and her lines hint that she is an alien. The shapeshifting part implies she may be a Skrull, who are debuting next year in Captain Marvel. Another theory is she may be from the Shi’ar empire, who appear in the Dark Phoenix saga. Chastain is obviously plotting to control or seize the power of Jean and the Phoenix Force. Chastain is also seen speaking with Lamar Johnson, likely also an alien.
Interestingly, Quicksilver (Evan Peters) only is glimpsed in the trailer, and doesn’t appear to be present when confronting Jean. Where is he? Hey, as long as we have another hilarious sequence with him, I’m good. We also see new mutants, Black Queen (Kota Eberhardt) and Red Lotus (Andrew Stehlin), who appear to be on Magneto’s team. Both characters have had past affiliations with the Hellfire Club in the comics, so perhaps that organisation will appear in the movie.
I suppose the biggest question is will this film be good? I like to remain optimistic about the film, but the feeling of mediocrity will not go away. The trailer easily spoils what could be a major character death, and Jean’s power boost comes off as a little vague. This way likely intentional, hiding the extraterrestrial elements of the movie. Those similarities to X-Men: The Last Stand are not necessarily a bad thing, but fans have been waiting a long time for the Phoenix Force to receive cinematic justice.
What are your opinions on the Dark Phoenix trailer? Will this film rise from the ashes, or burn out on re-entry? Leave a comment below or on our Twitter feed.