X-Men: Dark Phoenix – Everything you need to know

Hugh Armitage
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

From Digital Spy

20th Century Fox's X-Men movie series has already had a try at the classic 'Dark Phoenix Saga' and the result was the infamous trash-fire X-Men: The Last Stand.

But thanks to some timey-wimey trickery, they're getting a second bite of that cherry. Here's everything you need to know about the X-Men: Apocalypse sequel about an angry flaming bird that blows up planets.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix release date

Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

Unlike the announcement-happy Disney and Warner Bros, Fox kept quiet on its X-Men/Marvel plans until recently. But now there are three movies on the table for 2018.

Dark Phoenix – the fourth in the "next generation" series following First Class, Days of Future Past and Apocalypse – will follow Josh Boone's X-Men spin-off New Mutants (April 13, 2018) and Deadpool 2 (June 1, 2018), arriving on November 2, 2018.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix cast

Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

Rumours that the core cast would be back have been confirmed, with James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and even Jennifer Lawrence (who didn't seem particularly into X-Men: Apocalypse but chose to come back to complete her character's story) reprising their roles as Charles Xavier, Magneto and Mystique.

Nicholas Hoult (Beast), Alexandra Shipp (Storm), Tye Sheridan (Cyclops) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Nightcrawler) are all returning, as well as Game of Thrones' Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, around whom the whole story will revolve. The Originals' Summer Fontana will apparently play a younger version of Jean.

Jessica Chastain has been cast, too. She has shot down rumours that she is playing the alien Shi'ar empress, Lilandra Neramani, who has been billed as a villain in the film.

Photo credit: Tony Barson / FilmMagic / Marvel Comics / Getty Images

And Evan Peters was finally confirmed to be returning for another scene-stealing turn as Quicksilver. The Next Step's Lamar Johnson is also on board in a mystery role, and Olivia Munn is back as Psylocke.

A rumour has also been going around that Rogue is being recast for the film, and Dazzler is also expected to make an appearance.

Long-time X-Men producer and writer Simon Kinberg has been confirmed to make his directorial debut, stepping in to replace Bryan Singer. Kinberg has been working on the franchise since 2006's The Last Stand, but we try not to hold that against him.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix plot

Photo credit: Marvel Comics

The hints regarding Dark Phoenix began just before the release of X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016. Bryan Singer said he was down for it, hinting that something "dark" and "powerful" was growing in Jean Grey.

But what is The Dark Phoenix Saga anyway? In a nutshell:

When escaping from an exploding space station, Jean sacrificed herself by piloting the X-Men's ship back to Earth and exposing herself to dangerous levels of radiation. Before she died, a mysterious cosmic entity called the Phoenix offered her the power to save her friends and herself.

Photo credit: Marvel Comics

She accepted the Phoenix into herself (this was later changed so that a copy of her was made and she was put in stasis and hidden, but this doesn't matter for our purposes and is usually ignored by everyone). With her new powers, she helped the alien Shi'ar princess Lilandra topple her corrupt brother, the emperor D'Ken, and saved a magical space crystal.

But back on Earth, a group of powerful mutants called the Hellfire Club started secretly manipulating Jean's mind. They tapped into her dark side, but unfortunately weren't able to control what they found there.

Photo credit: Marvel Comics

The Dark Phoenix flew around space and blew up some inhabited planets. Jean was able to resume control, but only just in time for the Shi'ar to show up.

They weren't too pleased about the exploding planets bit, and fought the X-Men for the right to execute the Phoenix. Jean decided she was too much of a risk to her friends, and sacrificed herself.

Photo credit: Marvel Comics

The Last Stand steered clear of all that cosmic stuff. The Phoenix was instead revealed as a suppressed personality in Jean's mind that had a thing for evil Willow styling and murdering her loved ones.

Olivia Munn has called the movie a "two-parter", but we have no idea what she means by that.

The rumours around Dark Phoenix indicate that it might stick much closer to the original story. Early reports said that the X-Men would be going into space, and now it looks very much like the Shi'ar are involved.

This is bound to please fans, though it remains to be seen if Kinberg and co will be able to get the general public to embrace the space-opera side of X-Men story.

The film will reportedly be set in the '90s, following the pattern of the recent films being set ten years apart (First Class in the '60s, Days of Future Past in the '70s and Apocalypse in the '80s). Though don't expect the film to explain why no one seems to be ageing at the appropriate rate between movies. Xavier and Magneto should be about 60 by now.

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