It's no secret that superhero movie are everywhere. Over the past few years, the comic book genre has become the most profitable of the film world, with various studios creating shared universes in an attempt to cash in. But before the MCU introduced serialized storytelling to the masses, there was Fox's X-Men franchise. Hitting theaters back beginning in 2000, a trio of movies was released in theaters before a new class of actors was introduced to reboot the property.
James Marsden was the first actor to bring Scott Summers/Cyclops to life in live-action, and played the character in the original X-Men trilogy (in addition to a quick cameo in Days of Future Past). Since then, two other actors have played younger version of the mutant, with Ready Player One's Tye Sheridan reprising his role in Dark Phoenix. And it turns out that Sheridan wrote his predecessor a sweet message when he was cast. As Marsden recently revealed:
He wrote me a handwritten letter when he took over the role. A lovely young man. They’re giving [the storyline] the justice it deserves.
Well, this is heart warming. While some actors might have a hard time seeing young talent take on their iconic roles, it seems that James Marsden is happy to see Tye Sheridan playing Cyclops in the silver screen. And that may be partly because the 22 year-old reached out to his predecessor in such a way.
The X-Men franchise is fascinating, thanks to its multiple timelines and just how many decades the property has covered. X-Men: The Last Stand was the finale of the original trilogy-- at least until Days of Future Past brought both generations of mutants together into one ambitious crossover movie. So when the character was eventually recast for movies like X-Men: Apocalypse, it's not like James Marsden was still that connected to the role.
Rather than being recast just to get a bigger name, Tye Sheridan's time as Cyclops is simply due to how time is being utilized in the franchise. The new Cyclops entered the narrative in X-Men: Apocalypse, as mutant who was new to both Xavier's School and superheroics. He ultimately stepped up to battle Oscar Isaac's title character, and audiences will catch up with a more experienced version of the hero in Dark Phoenix.
In his same conversation with Variety, James Marsden addressed Dark Phoenix's upcoming release, and expressed how excited he is to see that beloved comic book plot be adapted for the silver screen. As he put it:
I obviously know the Dark Phoenix story — the saga was close to me because my character is closest with Jean. It’s cool to see Sophie Turner up there kicking ass as the young version of Jean.
Tye Sheridan made a strong first outing as Scott Summers in X-Men: Apocalypse. Audiences watched as he blossomed with his abilities, and saw he and Sophie Turner's Jean Grey fall in love as young students. Scott didn't get his signature visor until Apocalypse's coda in the Danger Room, so we should expect Cyclops to be a much more capable fighter when he pops back up in Dark Phoenix.
While Cyclops was a supporting character in Apocalypse, it looks like the fan favorite mutant will have a larger focus when Dark Phoenix finally arrives in theaters. Once Jean goes out of control thanks the Phoenix Force, the other characters will be split regarding what they should do. But Scott should presumably always be on Jean's side, and will no doubt help fight for her humanity.
Tye Sheridan's letter to James Marsden seem to have went over really well for the Westworld actor, but not all of the new class of X-Men were quite so lucky. Alexandra Shipp took on the role of Storm in Apocalypse, and reached out to Halle Berry ahead of her debut. But her e-mail might have made her seem a bit too eager, and it doesn't look like Berry actually responded. Halle Berry is still hoping the character will someday get a spinoff, so perhaps the Oscar winner is hoping her Storm-ing days aren't over.
Dark Phoenix has a ton of pressure associated with it, as it may be the final installment of the X-Men franchise as we know it. Aside from capping off the last four movies' overarching narrative, the movie will also be the second attempt at adapting the beloved Dark Phoenix saga onto film. While the comic book story is far more complicated and involves the Hellfire Club, the fans are anxiously awaiting to see if 20th Century Fox got it right the second time.
X-Men: The Last Stand was the first live-action go at the Dark Phoenix Saga, and it left much to be desired. Jean's powers didn't come from the cosmic Phoenix Force, but were dormant in her from childhood. She rose from her watery grave at Alkali Lake, and unceremoniously kills off James Marsden's Cyclops and Professor X. She was ultimately manipulated by Magneto, before being killed by Wolverine in the film's final battle.
The Dark Phoenix trailers seems to tease a more comic book accurate version of the plot line, although the movie's various delays have given the fandom some pause. What's more, the upcoming blockbuster has the added pressure of being the grande finale in the larger franchise, as 20th Century Fox was officially acquired by Disney. So the pressure is certainly on to bring a satisfying conclusion to the larger narrative, as well as service Jean's story in a proper way.
Cyclops will return to the big screen when Dark Phoenix arrives in theaters on June 7th. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.