After Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse and Logan the future of the X-Men franchise seemed clear: Jackman is out. Fassbender, Lawrence, McAvoy and Hoult are free to walk (in Lawrence’s case that walk looks more like a run). And the only new X-Men movies close to production are The New Mutants and Deadpool 2.
Clearly, Fox is finally moving into a new phase with this franchise, ready to turn away from the same set of characters who have been the faces of the franchise for the better part of two decades Re. cast them and jump back to 60s, 70s or 80s all you want, but for too long now an X-Men movie as either meant Wolverine or Xavier, Magneto, Cyclops, Jean, Beast and Mystique. Isn’t it about time to let some new characters pull focus and/or perhaps make Deadpool the new central, Wolverine-like figure?
Maybe, but Fox is running this franchise on seperate tracks:
- There’s Deadpool off doing his thing in R-Rated land.
- There’s the upcoming spin-off The New Mutants focusing on a Next Generation-esque batch of young X-Men.
- There are multiple live-action TV shows, FX’s Legion and Fox’s upcoming The Gifted, free to do their own thing.
- And then there’s the First Class/Days of Future Past/Apocalypse continuity which they’re not giving up on despite the modest box office returns for Apocalypse
Fox has been talking about making an Apocalypse sequel for a while, officially titling it Dark Phoenix and dating it for 11/2/2018, but it wasn’t clear who would be in it other than Apocalypse‘s recast, younger versions of Jean, Nightcrawler and Cyclops. There’s no way they could bring back the First Class survivors, not with Fassbender, McAvoy, Hoult and Lawrence having all fulfilled their contracts. Lawrence, for one, was clearly so done with playing Mystique she openly laughed in interviews in response to questions about the chances of her ever returning to the franchise.
“[Fox] is getting the band together one more time and has closed deals with Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult to return to the franchise after their original three-picture deals expired. Longtime X-Men steward Simon Kinberg is writing and is set to make his directorial debut with the tentpole, which is aiming to retell the defining Dark Phoenix storyline from the early 1980s comic book. Sophie Turner is reprising her role as the X-Men heroine Jean Grey, aka Phoenix. Also returning will be X-Men: Apocalypse stars Alexandra Shipp, Tye Sheridan and Kodi Smit-McPhee.”
Everyone’s coming back, even Jennifer Lawrence? That…that I didn’t see coming.
But wait, there’s more:
Jessica Chastain is in negotiations to star as the villain in X-Men: Dark Phoenix, the latest installment of Fox’s banner-carrying X-Men movie franchise […] If a deal is made, sources say Chastain would play Lilandra, the empress of an alien empire called the Shi’ar, who leads the quest to imprison and execute Dark Phoenix, sending her into conflict with the X-Men. (She also commands an alien super-team named the Imperial Guard, but it is unclear if that group will be featured in the movie.)
The surprises just keep on coming today. Jessica Chastain might play the villain? Huh. She’s not exactly above playing around in blockbusters, and maybe this one will work out better for her than The Huntsman: Winter’s War. But if Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers) and Cate Blanchette (Thor: Ragnarok) can play blockbuster movie villains why not Chastain?
It was always going to be difficult to keep going forward with these X-Men movies without McAvoy because it is Xavier’s School after all, and McAvoy had expressed a willingness to return in a reduced, mentor-like role. But everyone else could be worked around via yet another time jump. However, maybe there won’t be as big of a time jump this time (or even a jump at all), and maybe the First Class actors are all coming back in reduced roles or simply to be killed off. It’s nice for franchise continuity for them to be around (considering how important Beast, Mystique and Xavier all seemed to the training and running of the nascent X-Men at the end of Apocalypse), but it means Dark Phoenix will likely have the same “too many characters” problem as Apocalypse. Whatever dump truck full of money they drove into Lawrence’s driveway wasn’t big enough for Hugh Jackman, though. He’s still done with all of this.
Dark Phoenix is due out November 2018.
What do you think?