With Justice League and The Avengers: Infinity War both set to debut within the next year, 20th Century Fox needs to get back into the ensemble superhero game. On the heels of X-Men: Apocalypse, the stage has been set for Simon Kinberg's directorial debut with X-Men: Dark Phoenix and the mutant franchise is ready to take another shot at Jean Grey's iconic storyline. All of the essential pieces appear to have come together for the upcoming X-Men project, but now it seems that Dark Phoenix has also potentially tapped Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain as the villainous Lilandra Neramani.
As expected, 20th Century Fox is more or less maintaining the overall size and shape of its central X-Men ensemble going into X-Men: Dark Phoenix -- with major players like James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence (among others) all attached to return. However, this announcement also includes the addition of Jessica Chastain, who is in talks to join the cast as Lilandra. The character's specific relevance to the plot has not been revealed yet (although we can confirm that she's a major player in the original Dark Phoenix Saga), and Chastain is currently only in talks to join the cast, but the possibility of this happening already has our nerd minds racing.
The inclusion of Lilandra in X-Men: Dark Phoenix's story is undoubtedly an exciting development -- not to mention one that makes quite a bit of sense. The character is Empress of the Shi'ar Empire in Marvel Comics, and she has a deep personal connection with Charles Xavier, sometimes serving as a love interest. She has never appeared in live action, so this is a phenomenal opportunity for the X-Men films to break new ground. Moreover, recent rumors suggested that Dark Phoenix will include aliens in its storyline (unlike the significantly altered version of the tale seen in X-Men: The Last Stand), and the potential presence of an intergalactic character like Lilandra seems to confirm that theory.
Of course, as excited as we are by the possibility of Jessica Chastain joining the X-Men franchise, we must reserve judgment until we get a better look at her character and what her exact role will be. Casting a great actor in a film is one thing, but giving them enough material to properly work with is another story altogether. Look no further than Oscar Isaac's somewhat two-dimensional En Sabah Nur in last year's X-Men: Apocalypse if you need proof of that. Chastain has a history of picking good projects, so our hope remains high that something in the X-Men: Dark Phoenix story speaks to her on a deeper level.
This report from Deadline is also interesting because it confirms the longstanding rumor that Simon Kinberg will head behind the camera to direct this installment in the X-Men franchise -- replacing longtime X-Men helmer Bryan Singer. Kinberg has worked on almost every X-Men project (and spinoff) since 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand, so he has a clear understanding of what makes a good X-Men story, and what makes a bad X-Men film. Let's hope he can discern between the two and put that experience in the mutant world to good use.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix is now slated to debut in theaters on November 2, 2018. If you're on the lookout for more information related to this year's blockbusters, take a gander at our 2017 movie premiere guide.