A lot of buzz has circled around the future of the X-Men film franchise as of late with details still being worked out as to exactly what we can expect from the seventh entry in the 20th Century Fox powerhouse. Recently it was confirmed that “X-Men 7” will reboot the Dark Phoenix saga, a storyline explored in the third “X-Men” film, “The Last Stand”, with fans and critics loathing the first portrayal of the famed comic book arc. There’s a lot of newly discovered details about this announcement to share, so I decided to take a look at where things stand so far.
As fans of the X-Men comics are aware, and those who watched the horrendous third film in the original trilogy, the Dark Phoenix follows the awakening of a malevolent force called the Phoenix Force, which in “The Last Stand” was presented as an extension of psychic Jean Grey’s powers and was again explored in the final battle of “X-Men: Apocalypse”, a move that started fan buzz around the possibility of finally seeing the storyline done well.
I first learned of the Dark Phoenix confirmation from MovieWeb, which is a great site for movie news by the way. The film is one of three X-Men related films to be scheduled for 2018, the others being “New Mutants” and “Deadpool 2”, and as of this editorial is set to be directed by “X-Men: Apocalypse” scriptwriter Simon Kinberg. Kinberg would also write this film as he did the previous entry. The irony of this is that it doesn’t appear Brian Singer will be directing, which led to the mishandling of the same storyline in “The Last Stand”.
We don’t know a whole lot about the plot of the film, but we do have a few confirmations from the studio. Sophie Turner will return to portray Jean Grey as she did in “Apocalypse” and James McAvoy will make his fourth appearance as Professor Charles Xavier. However, we have no other cast members confirmed to return and there is the potential that Jennifer Lawrence specifically will not return to play Mystique, a character that was a background crony in the first three movies but because an integral part of the prequel trilogy that reportedly concluded Lawrence’s contract.
Michael Fassbender may also not be returning as the primary villain of the X-Men, Magneto, but his loss may not be as hard to swallow especially if the Dark Phoenix is being planned as the antagonist of this story instead of Magneto. It may actually be a breath of fresh air as the Xavier/Magneto dynamic has seemingly dried up in recent films and Fox is clearly having issues finding new ways to effectively fit the magnetic master into their plans seeing as he was no more than a major side character at best in “Apocalypse” and his heartbreak of a life has been torn apart film after film.
We also know that “X-Men 7” will take place in the 1990s, keeping with the prequel trend of tackling a specific time period with the first three prequel films taking place in the 60s, 70s, and 80s respectively, and is much earlier than the Dark Phoenix coming to light in the original trilogy. It’s important to remember that rebooting the Dark Phoenix saga is possible within the X-Men film universe. “Days of Future Past” presented a scenario where everything that occurred in the first three films, and even the much despised “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”, was shifted to an alternate time line. This new time line established in “Days of Future Past” allows the filmmakers and Fox to essentially do whatever they want going forward, even if it means tackling the same story ideas and concepts in a new way. Thus we get the second interpretation of the Dark Phoenix saga.
Another interesting tidbit presented by MovieWeb in recent weeks is the possibility that Rogue will return, but with a new actress portraying the popular mutant with the ability to absorb powers and life energy with a single skin-to-skin touch. Omega Underground who has seemingly uncovered evidence that casting is underway for numerous character for “X-Men 7”, including Rogue whose real name is Marie in the films, the same name as one character on the sited audition tapes. Now this could be no more than a scapegoat and is all pure speculation at this point, but it wouldn’t be the first time familiar characters from X-Men films of the past were reworked into the new timeline. Nightcrawler and Angel were both reworked to become new versions of their cinematic selves and, as I already documented, Jennifer Lawrence was cast as Mystique making her a much larger part of the X-Men lore than she was in the original trilogy.
The final little tidbit I want to discuss is a rumor that the seventh X-Men film will incorporate space into its story, which is a concept we actually have not seen in the series yet but it explored heavily in the comics and the popular animated television show. In fact the Dark Phoenix is first encountered in the animated show after the x-men make a return to earth from space and Jean Grey embraces the Phoenix Force, which turns out to be of otherworldly origin if I’m following the comics correctly. In the first trilogy it was presented that the Phoenix Force is a part of Jean Grey’s powers, but considering the changes embraced in previous films it is possible that the filmmakers could explore a more extraterrestrial origin to her Dark Phoenix persona.
“X-Men: Dark Phoenix” is scheduled for a November 2, 2018 release. What do you guys think? Are you excited to see a new take on the Dark Phoenix story? Let me know in the comments below.