Not even Magneto’s levitating machine guns can stop Sophie Turner’s Dark Phoenix in the latest trailer for the latest installment in the rebooted X-Men franchise. The Game of Thrones star plays Jean Grey, a powerful psychic and telekinetic mutant who finds herself succumbing to a dark entity called the Dark Phoenix, pitting her against her former colleagues.
(Some spoilers for The X-men franchise below.)
Jean’s transformation is one of the classic storylines in The X-Men comics canon, and we’ve seen it on the big screen before, in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). That’s when Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey took out two key X-Men, allied herself with Magneto, and destroyed an entire military battalion before someone finally managed to stop her. Those are pretty big shoes to fill, and we’ll see if Turner is up to the challenge.
Simon Kinberg co-wrote The Last Stand, but when he had the chance to revisit the Dark Phoenix storyline with the rebooted franchise, he signed on to both write and direct the film. The events of 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past essentially erased whatever happened in The Last Stand, so he had free rein to reinvent as he liked. The basic arc is the same: Charles Xavier discovers a young mutant named Jean Grey and takes her under his wing to teach her to control her power. But as an adult, another entity called the Dark Phoenix threatens to take over, leading to a deadly confrontation.
Much of the cast returns for Dark Phoenix, including James McAvoy (Charles Xavier), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), Nicholas Hoult (Beast), Alexandra Shipp (Storm), Tye Sheridan (Cyclops), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Nightcrawler), and Evan Peters (Quicksilver).
In the latest trailer, we see a distraught Jean Grey weeping in the rain: “Why did you make me do that?” she says. But what did she do? We then get a series of flashbacks, showing us an X-Men mission to space, a cosmic explosion that transforms Jean, and a confrontation with her former allies, especially Mystique, who tries to calm her so the Dark Phoenix won’t emerge. “She was my friend,” rain-soaked Jean laments, leaving us to wonder just what befell Mystique. (A brief shot of a graveside vigil hints that someone is lost.)
Searching for guidance, Jean turns to a shapeshifting alien played by Jessica Chastain (possibly a member of the Shi’ar race), who has a mysterious connection to Xavier. She clearly wants to manipulate the Dark Phoenix’s power, urging Jean to embrace it and take on the “power of a god.” Who could pass up that sales pitch?
“She’ll kill us all,” Xavier cautions. And then the real fight begins, as Dark Phoenix sows havoc and destruction in her wake, and the X-Men try to stop her—and hopefully save whatever is left of Jean in the process. Best scene: Magneto levitating a bunch of machine guns to ward off the Phoenix, to little avail. That might be worth the price of admission alone.
Dark Phoenix hits theaters June 7, 2019.
Listing image by YouTube/20th Century Fox