Is Jessica Chastain the real Dark Phoenix? The latest X-Men film is giving away a surprising number of twists in its trailers (the latest teaser confirmed Mystique's death), but one mystery is still yet to be revealed - the identity of the character played by Jessica Chastain.
It was considered something of a coup when the award-winning, Hollywood A-lister signed on to Dark Phoenix, and speculation was rampant regarding who she would portray. The fact that the film is an adaptation of The Dark Phoenix Saga - one of the bedrock storylines in X-Men history - means there's no shortage of possibilities.
While there are plenty of obvious candidates from X-Men lore, there are now hints that Chastain's Dark Phoenix character may be quite a bit different than what people are expecting - a manifestation of the Phoenix Force itself.
- This Page: Is Jessica Chastain Playing The Phoenix Force?
- Page 2: Why This Theory Would Be Good For Dark Phoenix
Jessica Chastain Was Originally A Skrull - But Not Anymore
When Jessica Chastain was originally cast as a powerful alien entity in Dark Phoenix, many fans assumed she'd be playing Lilandra, the Empress of the Shi'ar Empire and a critical player in the original Dark Phoenix Saga comics. However, early reports indicated Chastain was actually playing the leader of the Skrulls, one of the most storied alien antagonists in Marvel history who have been in something of a cinematic limbo due to their rights being split between Disney and Fox - though they're showing up in a major way in the upcoming Captain Marvel.
Dark Phoenix has long been considered something of a troubled production. It's technically a sequel to X-Men: Apocalypse; that film, directed by Bryan Singer, was met with middling reviews and underperformed considerably at the box office. Now, longtime franchise writer and producer Simon Kinberg is taking the director's chair for the first time for a second swing at Dark Phoenix; the first big screen adaptation of the story, Brett Ratner's X-Men: The Last Stand, is widely reviled.
However, it's not been plain sailing. Dark Phoenix's release date has been pushed back multiple times, and the film has undergone massive reshoots, all while the Disney/Fox merger looms large of the world of the X-Men. It's widely assumed the X-Men will be rebooted and join the MCU once the merger is finalized, so this is almost certainly the final film set in the universe established by 2000's first X-Men film.
There have been reports that, in amongst all the reshoots, the Skrulls have been removed from Dark Phoenix. Certainly, there's been no mention of them in any of the film's promotional material or trailers. Whatever the reason - it's possible their very different role in Captain Marvel, which releases a few months earlier, was cause for pause - that leaves Chastain's character in an odd position: what are her motives now? Chastain has been seen on the set of Dark Phoenix's reshoots, meaning her scenes are some of those affected, suggested her character is being adjusted.
Is Jessica Chastain The Phoenix Force?
There's ample evidence to back up the theory that Chastain is actually playing an aspect of the entity known as the Phoenix Force, a cosmic being of almost unthinkable power that has a primal connection to Jean Grey. Chastain's scenes in the trailers are only with Jean, where she appears as something of a devil on her shoulder, pushing her to do things she doesn't want to and testing the limits of her powers. This would fit as the goal of the energy force.
It's somewhat mind-boggling that a character written as a Skrull leader could be transformed into something as elemental and godlike as the Phoenix Force, but the film has been pushed back and remixed so many times that anything is possible. It would also, quite frankly, make for a more compelling character for Chastain. She is one of the most gifted actresses of her generation, and playing on the dual aspects of the Phoenix Force - a powerful cosmic entity, but also a manifestation of something akin to Jean's mental illness - is a suitably complex role for someone of her talents.
It would also serve to streamline what could have been an overly complicated story. The Dark Phoenix Saga is beloved partly because of its grand scope; in many ways, it's more of a space opera than a superhero story. However, it's also a story that was told over several years in the comics, giving it enough space and time to build to its grand climax. There's simply no way a two-hour movie could properly adapt every aspect of that story. There's also, to this point, really no precedent for aliens in the X-Men movies, and it may have simply been a bridge too far for this iteration of the franchise. Kinberg has said in interviews he drew heavy inspiration from Logan, a film that stripped the titular mutant of virtually all superhero trappings, telling a gritty, grounded story that breathed new life into an aging property. Perhaps Kinberg realized that an internalization of Jean's agony was more in line with the franchise's trajectory than evil shape-shifting aliens.