X-Men: Apocalypse marked the end of the "First Class" trilogy that began in 2011, but we're not saying goodbye to this iteration of the X-Men mythology just yet. Next year will see the release of X-Men: Dark Phoenix, the mutant-filled franchise's second attempt at adapting Jean Grey's famous turn to the dark side from The Dark Phoenix Saga comics storyline that ran in 1980. It's no secret that the first stab at this tale in 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand wasn't well received by longtime X-Men fans, and judging by the reports surrounding Dark Phoenix, it looks like this will be a more faithful adaptation. But recently, Olivia Munn, who appears to be reprising Psylocke, stated that Dark Phoenix "is like a two-parter," though it's unclear if this actually means the story will be told in two installments. That would certainly be a good idea, though, because there's too much great material from the original storyline to squeeze into one two-hour time frame.
When it comes to superhero movies adapting comic book storylines, it goes without saying that there will be creative liberties taken from the source material. For instance, the only thing about Captain America: Civil War that resembled the Mark Millar-penned Civil War story was that there were superheroes disagreeing about legislation regulating superheroes, with almost everything else being changed. Even Watchmen wasn't a 100% faithful adaptation of the same-named limited series, so it would be foolish to believe that X-Men: Dark Phoenix will attempt to make all of The Dark Phoenix Saga's main beats fit in this cinematic universe.
Nevertheless, given that this upcoming movie appears to be throwing in aliens, that's already several steps above X-Men: The Last Stand, which blended Jean Grey's destructive return with a mutant cure plot. But since X-Men: Dark Phoenix is also the first X-Men movie that touching on these cosmic elements, that makes it all the more important to not screw up this "introduction" by rushing the story. Regardless of how closely Dark Phoenix may or may not resemble The Dark Phoenix Saga, if you want to properly tell the epic of Jean Grey succumbing to the Phoenix Force, it's better that it stretches across two movies.
In the new X-Men timeline, Jean Grey unleashed the Phoenix Force for the first time against Apocalypse in 1983. X-Men: Dark Phoenix will take place approximately a decade later, and while we don't know if she's had any luck mastering her enhanced powers in the interim period, she'll eventually lose control of them and become the Dark Phoenix. In The Dark Phoenix Saga, due to her growing power and manipulation at the hands of the Hellfire Club, Jean Grey became so corrupted that she destroyed a star system, leading the Shi-ar Empire to try to put her to death.
Director Simon Kinberg has said that X-Men: Dark Phoenix will be more grounded, meaning we probably won't be venturing into the depths of space. However, it sounds like we will see beings from another world trying to neutralize Jean Grey when she becomes too dangerous, and a tale like is better served as a two-parter. Spend the first movie showing the X-Men fighting back against both the Phoenix-influenced Jean and those who wish to permanently neutralize her on Earth, and let the second movie take the X-Men to another planet where they're forced to fight for Jean Grey's survival in a trial by combat.
While 20th Century Fox hasn't officially announced yet which of the X-Men movies in development will follow X-Men: Dark Phoenix, the studio has set several dates aside for its upcoming Marvel releases, including June 7 and November 22 in 2019; March 13, June 26 and October 2 in 2020; and May 5 in 2021. Some of the projects attached to these dates are easy to predict, like X-Force and Gambit, but it's not unreasonable to assume that another main X-Men movie might take one of these slots. Both November 22, 2019 and October 2, 2020 would be especially good times to release a direct Dark Phoenix follow-up, although given that Dark Phoenix doesn't have an extended production, the latter date would be the likelier option. We have our fingers crossed that Dark Phoenix will do a better job playing with the Dark Phoenix Saga storyline than The Last Stand did, and if this turns out to be a duology, that would ideally increase its chances of success in the long run.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix opens in theaters on November 2, 2018. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates about the movie, and look through our 2018 movie premiere guide to see what else is coming out next year.