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Published On: Mon, Dec 11th, 2017

‘X-Men Dark Phoenix’ timeline, photos of Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Sophie Turner’s Jean

2017 is a wrap and fans can look ahead to 2018 superhero films with X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

The new movie, set in 1992 and centers around Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey and her transformation into the titular Phoenix, which wreaks havoc on her friends and threatens the world. Dark Phoenix marks the directorial debut of Simon Kinberg, who co-wrote and/or wrote The Last StandDays of Future Past, and Apocalypse and also produced those X-Men films.

At this point in time the X-Men are national heroes, with James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier landing on the cover of Time magazine. His “growing ego” begins to put the crew in danger, and EW teases “a massive twist halfway through that will irrevocably change the course of the franchise.”

For his part, McAvoy agrees that it’s a very emotional outing: “This is probably the most emotional X-Men we’ve done and the most pathos-driven,” McAvoy says. “There’s a lot of sacrifice and a lot of suffering.”

There has been teased a a funeral attended by Charles (McAvoy), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPHee), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), and Storm (Alexandra Shipp) about halfway through the film.

Fans are asking: who dies?

The 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.

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.”

Speaking with EW, Kinberg acknowledges that on Apocalypse they became too focused on visual ideas and lost sight of the characters themselves: “I think we took our eye off what has always been the bedrock of the franchise which is these characters. It became about global destruction and visual effects over emotion and character… One of the things I went into this film wanting to do is obviously focus on the characters and give them real emotions to play and come up with a theme that would make it feel relevant and necessary in today’s world.”

Producer Hutch Parker elaborated, acknowledging that the script for X-Men: Apocalypse was in always in development throughout production and the film came at a time when the superhero genre was evolving: “It’s always dangerous if your script is evolving while you’re shooting. Certainly, in hindsight, we all feel like the genre has been evolving aesthetically and tonally and that the film didn’t. There’s a lot that I think is very good in the film but, as a whole, it was struggling to find ways to coalesce, narratively emotionally and in terms of plot. Aesthetically, it felt sort of dated relative to an evolution you were seeing play out everywhere else. We learned a lot from that.”

Hutch Turner says a lot of the film was shot handheld, with a tactile and grounded quality to the imagery: “It is so gritty and there are so many fantastical things in this movie and we really wanted it to resonate with every member of the audience who watches it so we had to make to so real as well. You still get that sense of escapism when people start flying but there’s so much reality in it. I think it will really affect people. And the way Simon shot it — the majority of this movie is handheld, like Steadicam.”

The film also stars Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters, Daniel Cudmore, Evan Jonigkeit and Olivia Munn, all returning to reprise their respective role from the previous films. New to the franchise are Ato Essandoh, who plays a character named Jones, and Summer Fontana who plays the younger version of Jean.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix arrives in theaters on November 2, 2018.

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