Jean Grey is on fire—in more ways than one.
Last night, Sophie Turner debuted the trailer for Dark Phoenix on The Late Late Show, giving fans their first look at the female-led mutant movie. During a rescue mission in space, Jean Grey (Turner) nearly dies after she gets hit by a mysterious cosmic force. “Jean absorbs those solar flares and then hurls them back out into space. That’s what triggers, awakens, creates this Phoenix force and voice inside her,” director, writer and producer Simon Kinberg said last year in Entertainment Weekly. “What appears to the world to be another heroic victory by the X-Men in saving stranded people in space,” he said, ultimately leads to the “unraveling of Jean.”
Described by 20th Century Fox as “infinitely more powerful, but far more unstable,” Jean “unleashes her powers in ways she can neither comprehend nor contain. With Jean spiraling out of control, and hurting the ones she loves most, she begins to unravel the very fabric that holds the X-Men together.” Together, they must somehow reunite—”not only to save Jean’s soul,” but to save the Earth “from aliens who wish to weaponize this force and rule the galaxy.”
For reasons unknown, 20th Century Fox has dropped X-Men from the title—an unusual branding move, considering the name recognition the franchise carries worldwide. (Many of the characters first appeared in Marvel Comics’ The X-Men #1, published in September 1963). Dark Phoenix—originally slated for a Nov. 2, 2018 release—will now hit theaters Feb. 14, 2019.
Most of the characters from 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse are returning for Dark Phoenix, including Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Raven Darkhölme/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver (Evan Peters), Scott Summers/Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) and Ororo Munroe/Storm (Alexandra Shipp). Jessica Chastain joins the cast as a manipulative shapeshifter whose identity has yet to be revealed. “I don’t know what I can describe about this character without giving everything away,” she said last year. The non-human villain goes by the alias “Smith,” according to film studio, while Chastain described her approach as “very clinical.”
When Dark Phoenix begins, Erik leading a group of outcasts on mutant-friendly island Genosha. “He’s set up this place for mutants that don’t have a home to go to and they can seek refuge there,” Fassbender said. “They have to work as a community but it’s a safe place for them and they’ll be accepted.” In regard to Jean, “There’s a suspicion there on his part when she arrives.”
Dark Phoenix highlights the fierce female characters in the X-Men catalog. “I really wanted to acknowledge the strength of the women in the comic and in the actresses that we have, and the central storyline demands it,” Kingberg said. Chastain added she “always” wanted to do a big comic book film, “but I had some issues with the female characters in the films I was being offered. I was really pleased with this script because I think it’s a departure from the norm. This definitely passes the Bechdel test and I don’t know how many comic book films can say that.”
Turner agreed it’s “really exciting,” telling the magazine. “There’s such a revolution in superhero movies. I feel like this movie is a revelation because of it being like a drama but the hero is a female and she’s also the villain. It really is about her relationships with the females in the film, especially Jessica’s character. It’s really interesting to have those two characters be kind of the two biggest characters in the movie and both be female and so layered and so complex.”
Todd Hallowell, Hutch Parker and Lauren Shuler Donner are also producers on Dark Phoenix.