Two very early promotional images from Simon Kinberg’s upcoming Dark Phoenix included Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) crying in the rain, and the X-Men standing around a freshly-dug grave. Who was in the grave? Why was Jean devastated? Was it Jean in the grave, before she is “reborn” as the Phoenix? Or did Jean cause someone else’s death? Well, the new trailer for Dark Phoenix, which arrived on Wednesday night, gives the answer away, and it’s a big old spoiler. Seriously, don’t watch this trailer if you do not want to know what is spelled out for fans. We will discuss on the other side of the clip:
“Why did you make me do that?” Jean asks… herself? Well, the Phoenix power that is awakened inside of her. Do what, though? It’s very clear that Jean loses control and eliminates Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), after the shape-shifting mutant tries to calm down her friend and control the growing force that is rising up inside of her.
“You’re my family, Jean,” Mystique says. “No matter what.” Then she receives what certainly looks like the death blow.
Mystique is notably absent from the rest of the footage, though in all fairness, this very well could be a bait and switch by Fox’s marketing department to make us believe that Jennifer Lawrence’s time in the blue makeup is drawing to a close. Lawrence has made no bones about talking in public about a desire to move on from the X-Men franchise. She’s largely tired with the makeup process that turns her into Mystique, and after holding down roles in both the Hunger Games series and the X-Men saga, she is ready to move on.
Dark Phoenix might be a “moving on” moment for the X-Men series, as a whole, anyway. The eventual merger between Disney and Fox will affect all aspects of both studios, and one assumed acquisition will be the X-Men franchise into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, meaning that the MCU can reboot everything that has happened in the Bryan Singer/Simon Kinberg era of mutant stories, starting over from Square One.
Of course, Simon Kinberg has the final say on what clearly is the death of a major character in the X-Men franchise since Day One, when she was played by Rebecca Romijn before passing the baton to Jennifer Lawrence in X-Men: First Class. To eliminate any suspicion that this is a classic marketing fake out, Kinberg spoke with EW about the death, and explained:
The thought process behind that was to primarily show that this is a movie that is unlike other X-Men movies. It’s a movie where shocking things happen, where intense, dramatic things happen. People don’t just fall off buildings and dust themselves off and walk away. There’s a reality to this movie and a consequence to this movie. Even more than that, it was to show that Jean/Dark Phoenix is genuinely a threat to everyone, including the X-Men.
When asked to elaborate more on the decision to remove a ticket-selling A-lister from a franchise that could benefit from a boost at the box office, Kinberg admits:
I had a lot of emotions about it. I was obviously sad about it, as Jen’s a friend, and also as a fan of Jen as an actress. But I felt it was the strongest, most dramatic thing for the movie, and sometimes you have to make those kinds of hard decisions to service the larger story. And the larger story really is Jean cracking up, losing control because she’s more powerful than anyone else in the world. To dramatize that properly, you have to show real loss, you have to show real pain and show real threat and menace. 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.
There is something satisfying about a franchise that is willing to tackle a massive death for the benefit of stakes. Those same stakes have been missing from the big properties at DC and Marvel, as Superman (Henry Cavill) was “killed” off in Batman v Superman, but levitating dirt told fans immediately that everything was going to be OK. And even though half of the known universe has been snapped away to dust in Avengers: Infinity War, no one believes that characters like Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Spider-Man (Tom Holland) or Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) are going to remain dead in the MCU.
However, there’s always the lingering truth that because of the Disney-Fox merger, this could be the final chapter in this existing X-Men series, so bold sweeps won’t have much affect beyond the action that takes place in Dark Phoenix. We’re not even 100% certain that the New Mutants movie that’s part of this shared universe will see the light of day, or if it does, doesn’t end up on a streaming service instead of playing in a theater. Marvel Studios probably doesn’t want too many dangling threads from this series. They want to start over, and create mutants in the MCU on their own terms.
For now, Dark Phoenix is the next (and possibly last) X-Men movie reaching theaters. It will retell a classic X-Men story from the comics, where Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is exposed to a mysterious force while on a mission in outer space, unlocking the Phoenix power that resides inside of her. The trailers suggest that Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has been aware of Jean’s potential since a young age, but failed to “cure” her of it. This story was told once before in the X-Men: The Last Stand film, but Simon Kinberg has admitted over the years that they didn’t do the story justice, and he has been itching to tell it properly one more time.
Dark Phoenix opens in theaters on June 7. Will it be a proper farewell for this version of the X-Men? And are you happy that the characters are making their way over to the MCU? Let us know in the comments section down below.