Class is back in session at Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters in the first set photo for X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Production on the film is gearing up at the moment, with most of X-Men: Apocalypse’s main cast set to return and with a new director in Simon Kinberg, the longtime writer/producer on the X-Men movie franchise who handled the scripts for both Apocalypse and its predecessor, Days of Future Past.
Among the “Easter Eggs” featured in Apocalypse was the Danger Room, an incredibly technologically-advanced training facility for Xavier’s team of mutants. The Danger Room has been showcased briefly in two of the X-Men movies so far, with the final scene in Apocalypse showing a newly-assembled team that includes Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, and Quicksilver begin their training under apparent team leaders Mystique and Beast. The movie concludes with an army of the deadly mutant exterminating robots, the Sentinels, emerging from the Danger Room walls.
Twitter user @JENLAWFILMS is among those who have gotten ahold of a Dark Phoenix set photo that shows what looks to be the exterior of the Danger Room. You can check out said image below, followed by a photo that a fan took with Sophie Turner (who is returning as Jean Grey in Dark Phoenix) near the movie’s set in Vancouver – further confirming that production will begin very soon:
The Danger Room also featured briefly in the controversial, Brett Ratner-directed X-Men: The Last Stand, where Wolverine and his fellow mutants took on a different group of Sentinels in a version of the Danger Room that was more than a little reminiscent of Star Trek: The Next Genertion‘s holodeck. While the previous hints at the iconic location have been welcome, a full on action sequence in the Danger Room would be a dream come true for X-Men comic book fans.
The set photo comes surprisingly quickly after it was finally made official that Simon Kinberg would be taking the directing reins from franchise stalwart Bryan Singer. That seemed like a fairly predictable development; much more surprising was the news that Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender would be returning as Mystique and Magneto, respectively. In particular, Lawrence had voiced her desire to move on from the franchise once her three picture contract had been honored, which is completely understandable for one of the biggest movie stars in the world (and frankly, anyone who spends that much time being covered in blue paint). That said, Lawrence never completely ruled out a return to the X-Men franchise after Apocalypse, so her return for Dark Phoenix is not entirely a shock.
There’s quite a bit riding on X-Men: Dark Phoenix for Fox. The studio has recently enjoyed wild success taking genuine creative risks with their mutant properties, like the raunchy, bombastic Deadpool and the bleak, meditative Logan. Next year’s New Mutants film seems to be following in the creatively bold footsteps of those two films. Dark Phoenix has the unenviable responsibility of proving Fox can still make a big, epic, traditional blockbuster work with Xavier and company. It’s going to be a tall task… probably good they have a Danger Room to get ready in.