Sophie Turner has promised that X-Men: Dark Phoenix is a deeply emotional film that will 'revolutionize' the superhero genre.
2016's X-Men: Apocalypse left fans in no doubt where the X-Men franchise would go next. It featured a dramatic scene in which Sophie Turner's Jean grey cut loose like never before. Amid prophecies of the world burning in fire, Jean even manifested the Phoenix halo. Few fans were surprised when Fox revealed the next tentpole X-Men film would bear the title X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
In an interview with Empire, Turner has promised that this X-Men film will be a tremendously powerful one. She promised a "dark, gritty drama" that would turn the franchise on its head. "We are revolutionizing it," Turner explained. "We wanted to create a whole new genre of superhero movie."
The last two years have seen Fox take a far more experimental approach with the X-Men franchise. The unprecedented success of Deadpool, swiftly followed by this year's Logan, has seen Fox essentially reject the idea of a "superhero genre." Deadpool was more of a raunchy comedy than a classic superhero film, while Logan was a bloody and brutal Western with claws. Next year's New Mutants is intended to launch a superhero horror franchise.
Turner's comments suggest that even the tentpole X-Men films are taking a more experimental approach. That's a high-risk strategy, as tentpole movies like Dark Phoenix usually have a far higher budget than Fox's spinoffs. These tentpole movies feature more high-profile actors, and a wider range of powers that require expensive CGI. The last tentpole film, Apocalypse, had a budget of $178 million. Contrast that with Deadpool ($58 million) and Logan ($97 million), and it's easy to see why cheaper spinoffs are usually the experimental films.
In Turner's view, the film has essentially been defined by Simon Kinberg.
"Simon has been the brain behind X-Men for years, and it’s really exciting to have what feels like one of our own rise up and take hold of the franchise, and direct it in the way that he sees it. I have to say he’s one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with. He’s so passionate and collaborative."
Fans have always had something of a mixed reaction to the X-Men franchise, which has included as many stumbles as it has successes. While Turner is swift to laud Kinberg, many fans are more hesitant.
Turner's comments are promising, though. If any story was designed to be a "dark, gritty drama," it's Dark Phoenix. This arc is lifted, however loosely, from one of the most iconic X-Men stories of all time. The much-loved "Dark Phoenix Saga" saw Jean loose control of her powers, literally destroying an entire world. It forces comic book readers to confront a reality in which one of the X-Men had fallen from grace in the most horrific way. Given Jean's historic romance with Cyclops, it also tugged painfully on the heartstrings. The "Dark Phoenix Saga" ended with Jean choosing to commit suicide rather than risk unleashing the power of Dark Phoenix once again. It was perhaps the most powerful, and most emotional, X-Men story of all time.
In her interview with Empire, Turner assured fans that the film would strike the same notes.
"I kept saying to Simon, 'Oh good, that’s done. Now I only have, like seven huge emotional scenes to go,'" she laughs about putting her acting skills to full use. "It was a real challenge."
This is actually the second time Fox has adapted the "Dark Phoenix Saga" for the big screen. 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand failed to satisfy fans, missing the emotional complexity of the original comic book arc. Turner's words suggest that Fox has learned some important lessons from that experience and that we should expect a far more emotional story this time around. The claim Dark Phoenix will somehow "revolutionize" the superhero genre is a fascinating one, raising the bar for the film's success. Only time will tell whether or not the film lives up to this promise.
Source: Empire, via X-Men Films
- New Mutants (2019) release date: Aug 02, 2019
- Deadpool 2 (2018) release date: May 18, 2018
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- Gambit (2020) release date: Mar 13, 2020