The first official plot details for X-Men: Dark Phoenix confirm that Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) becomes the Phoenix after the X-Men take an ill-fated trip into outer space. X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse screenwriter Simon Kinberg is both writing and directing Dark Phoenix, in addition to serving as producer. Kinberg had previously adapted elements of Chris Claremont's The Dark Phoenix Saga for the big screen with his script for 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand. However, Dark Phoenix aims to do justice by that famous comic book storyline by bringing it to life as a full blown intergalactic, if also grounded, mutant adventure.
Dark Phoenix will feature the four main stars of the X-Men: First Class trilogy, in the forms of James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X, Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme/Mystique, Michael Fassbender as Erik Lensherr/Magneto, and Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast. Also returning here are the younger X-Men that were introduced in Apocalypse, like Alexandra Shipp as Ororo Munroe/Storm, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler, and Peter aka. Quicksilver (Evan Peters), in addition to Turner as Jean Grey. The film will pick up with all of these characters in the early 1990s, some ten years after the events of Apocalypse.
According to EW, Dark Phoenix picks up specifically in the year 1992, at a time when the X-Men themselves have unexpectedly become national heroes. Professor X, who has even been featured on the cover of TIME Magazine, is in turn inspired to push his X-Men team into taking on increasingly dangerous and even reckless missions. (“Pride is starting to get the better of him," according to Kinberg.) Disaster strikes when the X-Men agree to a rescue mission in outer space, during which the X-Jet is struck by a solar flare that ignites the power-hungry force known as the Phoenix within Jean; a power that she only began to tap into, during the climax of X-Men: Apocalypse. You can check out EW's Phoenix-themed cover for their report below:
McAvoy told EW that Dark Phoenix is both "the most emotional X-Men we’ve done and the most pathos-driven,” as it forces most of the X-Men to confront their personal demons and shortcomings along the way. Turner added that the film is very much focused on the relationship between Xavier and Jean, as the former attempts to save his student's soul from the threat of the Phoenix:
“It’s about the butterfly effect of this thing happening. What happens when the person you love the most falls into darkness?”
Kinberg, for his part, finds Dark Phoenix to be a personal story for an entirely different reason. The writer-turned director was forced to reduce The Dark Phoenix Saga into a mere subplot in The Last Stand, in order to make room for the central story thread about a "cure" for the mutant gene. However, when it came time to make Dark Phoenix, Kinberg told EW that he realized that he wanted (nay, needed) to be the one to direct the film this time:
“[The film] was so clear in my head, emotionally and visually, that it would have killed me to hand this to somebody else to direct.”
Last year's X-Men: Apocalypse was the worst received mainline X-Men film since The Last Stand, but the Dark Phoenix cast has already expressed their confidence that this installment will be an improvement. Shipp has praised Kinberg's knowledge of the X-Men mythology, saying that it will allow the X-Men movie franchise to flourish in a way that it wasn't able to when Bryan Singer was still calling the shots on Apocalypse. Singer, as it were, has come under fire of late for being unprofessional on his film sets, and was fired as the director of Bohemian Rhapsody this past week. Lawrence even described the experience of making Dark Phoenix under Kinberg's watch as being completely different from her previous X-Men outings, telling EW:
“It was unrecognizable. Everything was on time. Everything was organized. These movies have always been fun amidst chaos, and now they were fun with no chaos.”