Since it was first published in 1980, the "Dark Phoenix" saga has had a heavy grasp on X-Men fans. Not only does the storyline expand the idea of what’s possible within comic books as a medium, it turns the beloved Jean Grey into a stone cold killer, and it proves Charles Xavier isn’t as magnanimous as readers previously believed.
The "Dark Phoenix" storyline was originally adapted in the ‘90s Fox cartoon, then Bryan Singer sort of adapted it in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, but neither came close to matching the fire of the original. Finally, in 2019, Simon Kinberg brought the Dark Phoenix story to life and promised it’s faithful to the source material while still packing a few surprises.
Dark Phoenix began production in 2017, and while a long gestation period isn’t crazy for an effects-heavy movie, the wait time lead to speculation about what's going on with the X-Men. Even after the trailers and film stills came out, fans were at a loss for what to expect from the villainous Grey.
Dark Phoenix finally hit theaters in June 2019, and despite a hefty box-office profit during its opening weekend, the film was pulled from 44% of its running locations just three weeks in. It suffered a significant drop in its second week and the buzz around Jean Grey's debut as the Dark Phoenix simmered indefinitely.
Dark Phoenix's release was delayed due to heavy reshoots. Star James McAvoy elaborated on why such drastic rewrites and reshoots had to happen with Yahoo! UK, saying, "The finale HAD to change. There was a lot of overlap and parallels with another superhero movie that came out... a while ago. And we had no idea that we were... [doing the same thing]."
Michael Fassbender, who plays Magneto, joked that "they had spies on set... and [they] basically stole our ideas."
Folks over at Playlist speculated that the superhero movie in question that "stole our ideas" was none other than Captain Marvel. They believed that like Carol Danvers, Jane Grey might have had a massive space battle that had to be switched out to avoid comparison.
On June 7, 2019, Dark Phoenix will hit theaters with a blast of cosmic energy and betrayal. The latest trailer, debuting on April 17, 2019, reveals Jean Grey's descent into darkness given the troubling circumstances of her immense power and the doubts placed on her by her own trusted team.
If the name Simon Kinberg sounds familiar, that's because he's the writer behind 2006's much-benigned X-Men: The Last Stand. In an interview with Screen Rant during New York Comic Con 2018, Kinberg said the new film is a chance to right the wrongs of his first swing at the "Dark Phoenix" saga by putting Jean Grey at the "absolute center" of the story:
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 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.
One character fans know little about is the villain played by Jessica Chastain. Writer-director Simon Kinberg has gone out of his way to stay mum about who she's playing, although he's said she's inspired by Mastermind, a villain who tries to manipulate Jean Grey to prove they're worthy to join the Hellfire Club.
Kinberg said, "She is from, let’s say, not our planet, her character. I’ll keep it relatively mysterious but it is a cosmic story in a way that is extraterrestrial, which is something we’ve never done in the X-Men movies before but is obviously something that is integral to the Dark Phoenix story so I felt we couldn’t’ do what we did on X3 and ignore that."
The director went on to say Chastain's character doesn't have anything to do with Grey gaining the Dark Phoenix power, but she is interested in what Grey can do when she returns from space. "I don’t want to spill too much about it but basically Jessica’s character is very interested in this power that I’ve kind of acquired and this cosmic force that I have and she kind of wants that force to use it for her own - she has her own intentions with it and she kind of wants to use that. And she nurtures me in a way to make me kind of trust her."