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What to expect when the X-Men return in ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’

X-Men: Apocalypse/Fox

Sophie Turner stars as Jean Grey in this adaptation of the Marvel classic Dark Phoenix Saga.

20th Century Fox has a raft of X-Men sequels and spinoffs in the works, with X-Men: Dark Phoenix as the next installment in the main franchise. It follows on from X-Men: Apocalypse, with the younger generation of mutants taking center stage.

After an unusually long wait and plenty of reshoots, the trailer is here, and it looks like a return to form for the X-Men franchise. Jean Grey is in the foreground now, torn between the mentorship of Charles Xavier—who seemingly taught her to repress her power—and the freedom offered by Magneto.

Dark Phoenix is loosely based on the Dark Phoenix Saga from Marvel comics, which previously provided inspiration for X-Men: The Last Stand. Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) will grapple with her growing power as the Phoenix, while the alien Shi’ar Empire is rumored to make its first appearance.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix cast

Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, and Nicholas Hoult will reprise their roles from the previous three movies, playing Magneto, Professor Xavier, Mystique, and Beast, respectively. We’re also going to see more of the younger X-Men: Storm, Cyclops, Quicksilver, Nightcrawler, and obviously Jean Grey.

x-men dark phoenix movie Photo via X-Men: Apocalypse/Fox

The X-Men team in ‘X-Men: Apocalypse.’

Jessica Chastain is in talks to play the villain, thought to be Lilandra, the empress of the Shi’ar Empire and a key character from the comics.

Chastain posted on Instagram about traveling to Montreal to “make James McAvoy cry so hard,” basically confirming she has a role in the movie.

xmen dark phoenix Screengrab via JessicaChastain/Instagram

Lamar Johnson has been cast in an unspecified role, and mutant pop star Dazzler will appear in some capacity.

x-men dark phoenix trailer : Famke Janssen played Jean Grey in earlier X-Men films. Photo via Tiangelo/YouTube

Famke Janssen played Jean Grey in earlier X-Men films.

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Fox still hasn’t officially confirmed that Jessica Chastain is playing Lilandra, but we do know what her character looks like. Entertainment Weekly published a couple of photos of her from the set, one of which looks like regular human Jessica Chastain, while the other shows Chastain sporting bleached eyebrows and hair for a more “alien” look.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix cast @shawnxmadden/Twitter

X-Men: Dark Phoenix plot

Dark Phoenix will take place in the 1990s, meaning Magneto and Professor Xavier are supposedly in their 60s. (The movies barely attempt to make Fassbender and McAvoy look older than their actual ages, so it’s best to ignore this minor chronological detail.)

X-Men: The Last Stand reset X-Men continuity a few years ago, creating a separate timeline from the original X-Men trilogy and allowing the franchise to forge ahead with new storylines. This film continues on from Apocalypse, ignoring the “future” movies with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.

x-men dark phoenix saga Photo via The ark Phoenix Saga/Marvel

Plot details are still under wraps, but this movie is meant to be a more direct adaptation of the Dark Phoenix Saga than Famke Janssen’s role in the earlier X-Men movies. In the comics, Jean Grey died and came back to life by tapping into the Phoenix Force, elevating herself to godlike powers. She later became the villainous Dark Phoenix, an arc that ends in her demise. It’s an epic story with plenty of spacefaring elements between Jean and the Shi’ar empire, so the filmmakers have a lot of material to work with.

This movie will also introduce Genosha to the franchise. In the comics, Genosha is an all-mutant nation ruled by Magneto, an idea that will carry over into Dark Phoenix. According to Fassbender, Jean Grey visits him on Genosha for help, but Magneto (predictably) responds with suspicion.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix news

x-men dark phoenix cast : Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique Screengrab via 20thCenturyFox/YouTube

Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique.

Filming began in June 2017, with Simon Kinberg as the sole writer and director. Kinberg has a long resume as a producer and co-writer on blockbusters including The Martian, Sherlock Holmes, and all the recent X-Men movies. This is his directorial debut, ending Bryan Singer‘s long tenure at the head of the franchise. It’s an ambitiously high-budget, high-stakes job for a first-time director.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix trailer

x men dark phoenix : Sophie Turner as Jean Grey. Screengrab via 20thCenturyFox/YouTube

Sophie Turner as Jean Grey.

The trailer debuted on Sept. 27.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix release date

As part of a release date shuffle by Fox, Dark Phoenix is now being released on June 7, 2019, taking over Gambit‘s most recent release date, which is being pushed back to 2020. The film’s previous spot will now be held by Alita: Battle Angel, which will now be released in February 2019 instead of December 2018.

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested.