Hot on the heels of the first details regarding the upcoming sequel X-Men: Dark Phoenix hitting this morning comes the very first images from the film. Writer/producer Simon Kinberg, a longtime staple of the X-Men franchise, steps into the director’s chair for the first time on this film, revealing to EW that it was Jennifer Lawrence who most pushed him to make the jump to directing. Kinberg also wrote the script, and this follow-up adapts the famous Dark Phoenix Saga comics arc, which Kinberg first took a crack at in X-Men: The Last Stand.
This time around, however, Kinberg appears to have more creative freedom, as the film ventures to space within its opening minutes. There, Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey is hit by a solar flare that awakens the Phoenix and ignites a conflict that plays out through the rest of the movie. A “major twist” occurs halfway through the film, and indeed here we see a funeral attended by Charles (James McAvoy), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPHee), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), and Storm (Alexandra Shipp), so who dies? My bet is on either Lawrence’s Mystique or Nicholas Hoult’s Beast, both of whom would have a major impact given that they’ve been with the franchise since X-Men: First Class, as opposed to killing off some newish character audiences aren’t exactly attached to just yet.
Additionally, that would be an easy out. It was something of a surprise that Lawrence, McAvoy, Fassbender, and Hoult all returned for Dark Phoenix, since their contracts expired after Apocalypse. But if one or more of these incredibly busy actors signed a contract to return for just one more X-Men movie, that might make sense.
These first images also reveal Jessica Chastain’s villain, and while initial reports pegged her as playing Lilandra, EW doesn’t reveal her character’s name and only says she plays “an otherworldly shapeshifter.” That would kind of describe Lilandra, who also plays a major part in the Dark Phoenix comics arc, and Chastain says she drew inspiration from an unlikely source:
“Simon and I were talking about the character and I said, ‘I keep thinking of the vet who tells you you need to put your dog down,'” says the actress of her inspiration. “There’s something very clinical about it.”
That dog, one imagines, is Jean Grey/Phoenix, and Chastain’s character likely advocates killing her entirely rather than trying to bring Jean Grey back. Kinberg also reveals in the cover story that he asked for a longer post-production period than usual to “deliver on the nuance of the visual effects,” which is great news.
Check out more X-Men: Dark Phoenix images below via EW. The film also stars Michael Fassbender and Evan Peters and opens in theaters on November 2, 2018.