Explaining why and how he is rebooting the "Dark Phoenix" saga from the X-Men comics, Dark Phoenix writer-director Simon Kinberg said that Jean Grey will be the "absolute center" of this new adaptation. This information comes from a Screen Rant interview conducted with Kinberg during New York Comic Con 2018.
This is technically Kinberg's second attempt to adapt the Dark Phoenix story, as he co-wrote the 2006 Brett Ratner film X-Men: The Last Stand. While Jean Grey's (Famke Janssen) struggle with the Phoenix Force was a primary plot point in that threequel, that storyline was run parallel with one about a potential cure for the mutant gene, arguably overshadowing the Phoenix story that was celebrated by comic book fans.
When asked by Screen Rant at NYCC what his approach to rebooting the Dark Phoenix saga was, Kinberg's main point was that Jean Grey (played by Sophie Turner in this film) was the focus of Dark Phoenix, unlike in The Last Stand where she was one of several plotlines to be juggled. Her story with the Phoenix Force drives the plot of the film, says Kinberg, with the film depicting the effects that Jean's crisis has on the other X-Men.
The biggest lesson learned from X-Men: The Last Stand or X3 was that if you are going to tell a Phoenix story, tell the Phoenix story. Don't make it the subplot of the movie. Make it the plot of the movie. So in this movie Jean/Phoenix is the absolute center as you see her on the one-sheet of the poster. She's the center. The movie is about her. The movie's about her crisis and the ways that it then affects all of the people around her. Some of whom love her. Some of whom see her as an enemy. Some of whom want to take advantage of her. But she's at the center of it. So the lesson we really learned was to tell the Dark Phoenix story the way that it was originally told. And it's been told in other iterations, whether it be other versions of the comics or versions in the cartoons, she was always the center of it. It was always about her emotional, psychological breakdown and all of the things that then broke.
It is understandable that Kinberg would want to quell concerns about how his film will depict a popular storyline that in the eyes of fans, has been bungled before - it's worth mentioning that Kinberg apologized for The Last Stand. Not too many figures in Hollywood get a second chance to tell the same story that they did over a decade ago, so Dark Phoenix represents a rare opportunity for Kinberg. There is an emphasis this time on the character's "emotional, psychological breakdown," and it appears that Kinberg wants Dark Phoenix to be intimate in depicting Jean Grey's mental health while showing how she affects the other characters like Cyclops on a larger scale.
All of these points sound good on paper, but X-Men fans may have mixed opinions on the direction of Dark Phoenix, depending on who you ask after the trailer debuted. Some believe that Dark Phoenix already resembles The Last Stand greatly, despite assurances of its differences - one person even went as far to edit The Last Stand footage over the Dark Phoenix trailer. The news of constant delays and reshoots for the film have also made X-Men fans uneasy. Whatever the case, Dark Phoenix may be Kinberg and Fox's last chance to deliver an exceptional product on their own before the impending Disney-21st Century Fox merger hands their characters over to Marvel Studios.
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- New Mutants (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020