It’s the end of the X-Men as we know them, and Sophie Turner feels … sad. Due in theaters on June 7, Dark Phoenix seems poised to bring the curtain down on a franchise that started in 2000 and transformed Marvel Comics’ merry mutants into blockbuster big-screen heroes. Not that the X-Men will be going away for good; Disney’s acquisition of Fox ensures that there will be more adventures to come. But this particular lineup will almost certainly change once the Mouse House takes over, and the housecleaning begins with the death of the character played by one of the series’ biggest stars: Jennifer Lawrence.
And Dark Phoenix writer-director Simon Kinberg isn’t being coy about the Oscar winner’s fate. The newest trailer opens with the scene where Jean Grey (Turner) loses control of her psychic powers, and shapeshifter Mystique (Lawrence) ends up as collateral damage. “The larger story really is Jean cracking up, losing control because she’s more powerful than anyone else in the world,” Kinberg told Entertainment Weekly. “I didn’t want to do that by her blowing up a building with anonymous people in it. It had to feel really personal for the X-Men, and I wanted it to be something that would fracture the X-Men as well. Mystique is someone who in our universe has been part of the X-Men and has been part of Magneto’s world. Her death impacts literally everybody.”
The death of Lawrence’s character also means that her version of Mystique never becomes the character we met in the original X-Men, played by Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, who reprised the role in X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand. (Lawrence donned the blue skin in 2011, when X-Men: First Class kicked off the prequel series.) That change will serve to further muddy the waters of the franchise’s famously convoluted continuity, although all of the timeline juggling that went on in 2014’s Days of Future Past provides an easy explanation for why the mythology doesn’t add up.
Killing Mystique sends Jean down a dark path, but at least she isn’t walking it alone. Jessica Chastain is right there every step of the way as an alien drawn to Earth by Jean’s prodigious displays of the Phoenix Force. “You’re special, Jean,” she says, temptingly. “If you stop fighting that force inside you, if you embrace it, you will possess the very power of a god.”
What Chastain fails to mention is that some gods become monsters. And that’s how some of the X-Men view Jean after she blasts Mystique to her final resting place. “Mystique’s death is the thing that fractures the family of the X-Men,” Kinberg explained to EW. “[It] sets people who were friends on opposite sides, and people who were enemies become allies.” It also seemingly turns the larger world against the X-Men. In footage that Yahoo Entertainment screened at New York Comic Con last fall, Professor Xavier’s team were public heroes, with hundreds of screaming fans showing up at the site of their latest world-saving triumph. Toward the end of the Dark Phoenix trailer, though, we see them held captive on a train by heavily armed soldiers — a clear sign of the resurgence of mutant panic.
While he declined to name names, Kinberg hinted that there are other “major casualties” in the film besides Lawrence. The only mutant we can say with absolute certainty who will be left standing by the end of Dark Phoenix is Ryan Reynolds’s Deadpool. Why? Well, aside from the fact that he’s not actually in the movie, Disney head honcho Bob Iger has already said that there will be more R-rated Merc With a Mouth action under his company’s watch. Dark Deadpool, anyone?
Dark Phoenix opens in theaters on June 7.
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