Fox has revealed Simon Kinberg, longtime writer in the X-Men film franchise, will make his directorial debut by helming X-Men: Dark Phoenix, with the principal stars of the X-Men: First Class trilogy returning to their roles. Buoyed by the recent success of Deadpool and Logan, the studio is doubling down on project set in the mutant universe, with a trio of films coming out next year. One of those is Dark Phoenix, which continues the mainline story of the series. Keeping in line with the time jumps of its predecessors, the film will be set in the 1990s and will draw from the famous comic storyline for inspiration.
In addition to the director, one of the biggest questions about the movie was the cast. It was believed veterans like Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence would reprise their characters, and Beast actor Nicholas Hoult also believed he would come back for another round. Now, the involvement of the actors has officially been confirmed as Fox looks to get the ball rolling on the latest sequel.
Per Deadline, Kinberg is now locked in to direct (following reports from earlier this year). His involvement was originally reported by Omega Underground. He will be joined by stalwarts Fassbender, Lawrence, Hoult, and James McAvoy, with X-Men: Apocalypse newcomers Alexandra Shipp, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, and Kodi Smit-McPhee coming back as well.
Fans might be skeptical of the news, considering that Simon Kinberg would be a first-time director. Though Kinberg has been associated with the X-Men franchise since 2006, he has no experience in the field of directing. The first X-Men movie Kinberg worked on was X-Men: The Last Stand, which he co-wrote with Zak Penn. Kinberg also wrote the two most recent films in the main series of X-Men movies, X-Men: Days of the Future Past and Apocalypse. He later co-wrote the reboot of Fantastic Four, which was considered a box office disaster. Kinberg is already known to be heavily involved with X-Men: Dark Phoenix as a writer. He also claimed to have interest in directing the film.
The new movie is expected to be set in the 1990s and will follow the events of X-Men: Apocalypse, which saw the introduction of younger versions of Cyclops (Sheridan), Jean Grey (Turner), Storm (Shipp), and Nightcrawler (Smit-McPhee). In X-Men: Apocalypse, the X-Men battled the ancient mutant, Apocalypse. At the end of the film, Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and Mystique (Lawrence) decide to train the new team of X-Men, which also includes Magneto's son, Quicksilver (Evan Peters.)
If the movie's title is any indication, the film will adapt the classic comic book storyline, "The Dark Phoenix Saga," which was told in the pages of The Uncanny X-Men in 1980. In the comics, Jean Grey became a host to the cosmic entity known as the Phoenix Force after a mission in space. This transforms her into the genocidal "Dark Phoenix," a supremely powerful mutant said to be even more dangerous than Galactus. Dark Phoenix's actions led them into conflict with an alien enemy called the Shi'ar Empire, led by Empress Lilandra. The X-Men and the Shi'ar battle over Jean Grey's fate. To avoid the loss of more lives, Jean commits suicide. Jean Grey's role as "Dark Phoenix" was also adapted in X-Men: Last Stand, but the cosmic and space elements were left out. However, the latest installment may take the X-Men into space, so hopefully this one is a more faithful adaptation.