Dark Phoenix (film)

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Dark Phoenix
Dark Phoenix poster.jpg
Teaser poster
Directed by Simon Kinberg
Produced by
Written by Simon Kinberg
Based on
Starring
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography Mauro Fiore
Edited by Lee Smith
Production
company
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • June 7, 2019 (2019-06-07) (United States)
Country United States
Language English

Dark Phoenix (alternatively known as X-Men: Dark Phoenix) is an upcoming American superhero film based on Marvel Comics' X-Men characters, distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is intended to be the twelfth installment in the X-Men film series and the sequel to X-Men: Apocalypse (2016). The film is written and directed by Simon Kinberg, and stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, and Jessica Chastain. In Dark Phoenix, the X-Men must face the full power of the Phoenix (Turner) after a mission to space goes wrong.

After X-Men: Days of Future Past erased the events of X-Men: The Last Stand from the series' timeline, Kinberg expressed interest in a new, more faithful adaptation of Chris Claremont and John Byrne's "The Dark Phoenix Saga" in a future film than his previous attempt with The Last Stand, which was not well received. The new adaptation was confirmed as a follow-up to X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016. Kinberg signed on to make his directorial debut in June 2017, when the majority of the cast was set to return from Apocalypse. Filming began later that month in Montreal, and was completed in October 2017, with reshoots taking place in late 2018.

Dark Phoenix is scheduled to be released in the United States on June 7, 2019.

Premise[edit]

In 1992, nearly a decade after the events of X-Men: Apocalypse, the X-Men are national heroes going on increasingly risky missions. When a solar flare hits them during a rescue mission in space, Jean Grey loses control of her abilities and unleashes the Phoenix.[1]

Cast[edit]

  • James McAvoy as Charles Xavier:
    A mutant pacifist and the world's most powerful telepath, he founded Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.[2] Many of the characters in the film turn against Xavier as some of his decision regarding Jean Grey's abilities are revealed. Director Simon Kinberg felt that the character always acts out of concern for the "greater good", though he may make some "misguided" choices at times. Kinberg hoped that each character would come across as having "a valid point of view" in the film.[3]
  • Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto:
    A powerful mutant who can control magnetic fields and manipulate metal, he is Xavier's best friend and often rival.[2] Magneto has formed a community of mutant refugees on the island of Genosha,[4] which Kinberg compared to Israel in it being a homeland where mutants can be safe.[5]
  • Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme / Mystique:
    A shape-shifting mutant and Xavier's adopted sister.[2] Lawrence described her role in the film as more maternal than previously, as she leads the younger X-Men.[6] The film continues growing the schism between Mystique and Xavier, with Mystique not approving of some of Xavier's methods, though Kinberg hoped that this would be more subtle in Dark Phoenix than in previous X-Men films. The film also sees the character change between appearing as Raven and Mystique more than previously, with each change having a specific meaning to the character and story.[5]
  • Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy / Beast: A mutant with a beastly appearance and superhuman physical abilities. He is a teacher at Xavier's School.[2]
  • Sophie Turner as Jean Grey / Phoenix:
    An extremely powerful mutant with telepathic and telekinetic powers who is one of Xavier's most prized students.[2] The Phoenix personality is unleashed in the film, leading to a fight between the two personalities for control. Turner studied multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia for the role, particularly for scenes where she has to change from the vulnerable Jean to the confident Phoenix.[7] Kinberg said Turner has the lead role in the film, a first for the actress, with Jessica Chastain mentoring Turner on the film's set.[8]
  • Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers / Cyclops:
    A mutant who fires concussive optic beams.[2] The film develops his relationship with Jean Grey, which director Simon Kinberg called "a huge part of the emotional core of the movie". This forces the character to become a leader in the film,[9] as he becomes the most prominent character who holds on to hope as Jean becomes more unstable.[5]
  • Alexandra Shipp as Storm: An African mutant who can control the weather.[2]
  • Kodi Smit-McPhee as Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler: A German teleporting mutant.[2]
  • Evan Peters as Peter Maximoff / Quicksilver:
    Magneto's son who can move at superhuman speed.[10] Peters described the character as more mature and subdued in the film, being focused on using his abilities for good as a member of the X-Men.[11]
  • Jessica Chastain as an alien shapeshifter who manipulates the Phoenix.[12][3] The character is a combination of different comic characters, including the villain Mastermind.[3] Kinberg described her as "the devil on Jean's shoulder",[5] while Chastain called her character "clinical".[12]

Additionally, Olivia Munn reprises her role of Psylocke,[13] while Daniel Cudmore—who previously portrayed Colossus in the franchise—and Lamar Johnson appear in undisclosed roles.[14][10] Kota Eberhardt and Andrew Stehlin portray mutants Selene and Red Lotus, respectively.[3]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

After joining the 2003 film X2, writer Zak Penn convinced director Bryan Singer not to adapt the Marvel Comics' storyline "The Dark Phoenix Saga" for the film, believing it was "too soon to go into the Phoenix story and it was too soon to get cosmic."[15] The character of Jean Grey / Phoenix was instead explored "subtly", with the intention of the full story being adapted in the next film instead.[16][15] Singer did not return to direct the sequel, X-Men: The Last Stand, which was written by Penn and Simon Kinberg. They chose to adapt the "Dark Phoenix Saga" as only one of the film's "parallel storylines", with an executive at 20th Century Fox suggesting that the "Gifted" storyline also be in that film.[16] This version of the story was not well received by fans and critics. Kinberg stated that he and Penn were ultimately unhappy with how the adaptation turned out as well.[17]

After the timeline of the X-Men franchise was reset with the 2014 film X-Men: Days of Future Past, it was noted that a new adaptation of the "Dark Phoenix Saga" could be made that ignores the events of The Last Stand. Kinberg and Singer both expressed interest in this, and hinted that 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse would set up elements for such a retelling. Apocalypse introduces Sophie Turner as a young Jean Grey, and begins exploring "how powerful she is".[17] By April 2016, the sequel to Apocalypse was believed to indeed re-adapt "The Dark Phoenix Saga".[18] In May 2016, Kinberg said that the next X-Men film after Apocalypse would be set in the 1990s, advancing a decade as had been done for the previous few X-Men films.[19] He also noted that Apocalypse had introduced younger versions of several characters from the original X-Men films to give them a new origin story—including Storm, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, and Jean Grey—with the intention of then exploring them in their own line of films. He added that he also hoped to see the cast of the previous trilogy of films return, namely James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr / Magneto, and Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme / Mystique.[20]

In July, Kinberg said he would begin writing the next mainline X-Men film "real soon".[21] That November, Fox was said to be pressing "the reset button" on the franchise due to the financial and critical underperformance of Apocalypse, with the franchise being reconfigured and Singer said to not be returning to direct the next film. McAvoy, Fassbender, Lawrence, and Nicholas Hoult's contracts from the previous trilogy had ended, but Kinberg was optimistically writing the new script with them in mind.[22] It was rumored in February 2017 that the next film would be titled X-Men: Supernova, and would begin filming that June.[23] Also in February, Turner confirmed that she would return for the film.[24] Kinberg was believed to be interested in making his directorial debut with the film,[25] and was described as the top contender for the job, with interest from Fox as well. The studio was also looking to negotiate new deals with Lawrence, Fassbender, McAvoy, and Hoult to return.[26] By the end of the month, Kinberg described reports that he may direct the film as "premature", but added that if he were to direct, he would not be daunted by the scale of the film due to his experience writing and producing many of the other X-Men films. He also reiterated that he would adapt "The Dark Phoenix Saga" differently to how he did for The Last Stand if given another opportunity to do so.[27]

Pre-production[edit]

Kinberg said at the start of March 2017 that he and producer Hutch Parker had begun early prep on the film, and that Supernova was just a code name they had been using for the sequel. He said that they had begun discussing the story for the film during post-production on Apocalypse, and that they wanted to do "something bold and radical and expand the universe in the same way that Logan feels bold and radical and certainly Deadpool does as well."[28] In pitching the film to the studio, Kinberg used real world imagery such as disaster footage or lightning strikes, and focused on an organic and relevant approach as a response to criticisms of Apocalypse's heightened reality.[29] Fox officially titled the film Dark Phoenix in April, and gave it a release date of November 2, 2018.[30] Fassbender indicated in May that he would be returning for the film,[31] and Parker soon hinted that a young version of the character Rogue could appear, and that the film could possibly explore the cosmic elements of the "Dark Phoenix" storyline.[32][33]

In June 2017, the Shi'ar alien race was rumored to be featured in the film,[34] and Angelina Jolie was being looked at for a role, though she was not expected to accept the part. Jessica Chastain was also potentially being looked at for the same character.[35] Fox confirmed that Kinberg would direct the film, and that Lawrence, Fassbender, McAvoy, and Hoult had all signed on to return for one more film. In addition to Turner, Apocalypse actors Alexandra Shipp, Tye Sheridan, and Kodi Smit-McPhee were also confirmed to be returning, while producers for the film were revealed to be Kinberg, Parker, and Lauren Shuler Donner. At that time, Chastain was in talks to join the cast as Shi'ar Empress Lilandra, the film's villain. The film's script was said to "hew closer" to the original "Dark Phoenix Saga" by Chris Claremont and John Byrne than The Last Stand did.[36][2] It was later revealed that the character Dazzler would be appearing in the film, after being hinted at in a scene that was eventually deleted from Apocalypse.[37] Singer was originally announced as being a producer on the film, but following allegations of sexual abuse against Singer, Kinberg stated that he was not involved in the film and his name would not be in the film's credits.[8]

Daniel Orlandi returned as costume designer for the film after doing so on Logan,[38][5] and worked with Kinberg to design costumes for the X-Men that were closer to the original comic designs that Kinberg had wanted to see in the films since he first joined the franchise but had never been in a position to control before. The final costumes for the film feature the yellow-and-blue design of the original comics, but combine features of designs from many different incarnations of the group. Kinberg also looked to Logan for general design inspiration, wanting to replicate the "naturalistic" and "handmade" quality of that film for the costumes, sets, props, and title design. He felt that this would give more impact to the large-scale elements of the film, and help it be more emotional, comparing this idea to the original Star Wars films.[5]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography began on June 28, 2017, in Montreal,[2][39] under the working title Teen Spirit.[40] Mauro Fiore served as cinematographer.[41] Filming primarily took place at MELS Studios.[42] Before the end of the month, Evan Peters was set to reprise his role as "audience favorite" character Quicksilver from the previous films, and Lamar Johnson joined the cast in an unspecified role.[10] At the start of August, Chastain confirmed her involvement in the film;[43] she was interested in the story, after turning down roles in other superhero films, due to its focus on female characters.[44] Kinberg said he wanted the film to be "human" and emotional like previous X-Men films, and that he was looking to ground the "Dark Phoenix Saga" story for his adaptation "so it’s not too intergalactic".[45] He later clarified that the film would still include alien characters as in the comic storyline, an element that was ignored for the Last Stand adaptation but which he felt was integral to the story.[46][3] He also said that the film would tonally be less operatic than previous X-Men films which he hoped would make it more relatable for audiences.[46] By September, Daniel Cudmore had confirmed that he would be appearing in the film, but could not confirm whether he would be reprising his role of Colossus from previous films in the franchise.[14] Chastain revealed that she was not actually playing Lilandra,[47] while Olivia Munn confirmed that she would be reprising her role of Psylocke in the film.[13] Filming was completed in Montreal on October 14, 2017.[39][48]

Post-production[edit]

In December 2017, Kinberg revealed that the film would be in post-production for almost a year, longer than usual for the series, because he wanted to take the time to get the visual effects right by focusing on the "nuance" of the effects rather than the scale.[49] He also explained that he "felt in his gut" that this was the story that he needed to tell once Singer left the franchise, and that his vision for the film was "so clear in my head, emotionally and visually, that it would have killed me to hand this to somebody else to direct". The film was described as being the most sinister and somber of the franchise, with McAvoy finding it to be the most emotional of the X-Men films he had worked on. It becomes a "fight for Jean’s soul" and features a twist that was intended to have significant repercussions on the entire franchise.[1] Lawrence revealed that she had worked to convince Kinberg to direct the film, and had promised to return for it if he did so, despite her dislike of the make-up required to portray her character.[50] It was also revealed then that the film would be introducing a version of the island Genosha, adapted to the film as a mutant refuge led by Magneto,[4] and that it would focus on the female characters more so than previous films in the series, particularly Jean Grey as both the hero and villain of the film, and Chastain's character with whom Grey has a complex relationship.[44]

Fox delayed the film's release in March 2018, pushing it back to February 14, 2019.[51] This was because Fox and Kinberg wanted to schedule some routine reshoots for the film after receiving feedback from audiences during a test screening, but were not able to get all of the necessary cast members together until August or September 2018, which would not leave enough time to complete post-production work such as visual effects for the additional footage before the November 2018 release date.[52] Specifically, Kinberg was looking to rework the third act of the film, and would re-write part of the script ahead of the reshoots. With post-production already underway, the film was believed to have been under-budget, while the planned reshoots would cost less than $10 million. Additionally, Kinberg and the studio had been looking to change the film's release date for "some time" to avoid competing with the Christmas-oriented film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. The new February release date was noted as having the film release away from any other major studio films, while placing it on President's Day weekend which proved to be successful for Deadpool and Marvel's Black Panther.[53] Addressing the reshoots, Kinberg confirmed the scheduling delays, and described the photography as a "normal" part of the film's creation that would allow him "enough time to have it ready and looking perfect".[54]

At the end of April, a Fox panel at the 2018 CinemaCon revealed the first logo for the film. It did not include "X-Men" in the title, but included a circle around the 'X' in Dark Phoenix which was compared to the X-Files logo;[55] the film was later confirmed to be simply titled Dark Phoenix in the United States, and X-Men: Dark Phoenix for release internationally.[5] By that August, the reshoots were expected to take place in Montreal over two-and-a-half weeks, though the Quebec Film and Television Bureau believed that these reshoots would take up to three months to complete, due to scheduling conflicts among the cast members.[56][42] The reshoots were set to take place at MTL Grandé studios since MELS Studios was reserved for another production during the reshoot period,[42] and had begun by August 31.[57] At the end of September, after the release of the film's first trailer, Fox again delayed the film's release, setting it for June 7, 2019. This date was seen as a better time to release the film in China, where the trailer received more attention than in the United States, while also allowing it to take advantage of premium screens that were previously reserved for Fox's newly-delayed Gambit.[58] Lee Smith serves as editor for the film.[59]

Music[edit]

Evan Peters stated in January 2018 that Hans Zimmer was composing the score for the film,[60] despite Zimmer having said in March 2016 that he would not score another superhero film following his experience working on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.[61] Zimmer later explained that in conversations with director Ron Howard he was convinced to not keep a "blanket" view and to focus on waiting for the right story rather than avoiding an entire genre. When Kinberg approached him at a concert to talk about his vision for Dark Phoenix, Zimmer realized that the story was one that he wanted to help tell and that the film would be an opportunity to do something that he had always wanted to try in a film score, so he decided to join the production.[62]

Marketing[edit]

Turner revealed the first trailer for Dark Phoenix on The Late Late Show with James Corden on September 26, 2018, before Fox released it online. Responses to the trailer widely considered it to be too similar to X-Men: The Last Stand.[63] Graeme McMillan and Aaron Couch of The Hollywood Reporter both felt that this feeling could have been avoided if the trailer had shown more of the film's space and alien elements, which would have differentiated it from the Last Stand adaptation.[64] Scott Mendelson at Forbes called the trailer "dull", and said that it focusing on the characters rather than big effects or action was a risk by Fox given that audiences have indicated through the box office numbers of X-Men: Apocalypse) that they are not necessarily interested in this version of the X-Men characters.[65] The trailer was watched just 8 million times within 24 hours on Fox's YouTube channel, but received 44 million views within that same time period across Chinese social media platforms, leading to Fox re-focusing their release plans on China.[58]

Release[edit]

Dark Phoenix is scheduled for release in the United States on June 7, 2019.[58] It was previously set to be released on November 2, 2018,[30] then rescheduled to be released on February 14, 2019,[51] before being pushed to June.[58] It will be known as X-Men: Dark Phoenix for release in countries outside of the United States.[5]

Future[edit]

Kinberg said in May 2016 that he hoped Dark Phoenix would be the first in a new line of films focusing on the younger versions of the original X-Men characters.[20] After the proposed acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney was announced in December 2017, Disney CEO Bob Iger said that the X-Men would be integrated with the Marvel Cinematic Universe under Disney.[66]

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