The Dark Phoenix Saga is one of the—if not the—best-known X-Men stories, or comics stories in general. As such, it’s been adapted more than once, including elements of the story being used for the plot of the movie X-Men: The Last Stand. Now, thanks to their time-traveling antics, the X-Men movies are getting a second chance to do a more direct adaptation of the story in X-Men: Dark Phoenix, and the first trailer is a foreboding one.
It’s still likely to take huge liberties, though, considering that the actual Dark Phoenix Saga takes place on a cosmic scale, involving battles with aliens way out in space and on the Moon, among other more comic book-y elements that have a tendency to be left out of cinematic adaptations. (Although director Simon Kinberg has said that those elements will be introduced.) What does appear to be intact is, of course, the focus on Jean Grey tapping into incredible and dangerous powers, and the X-Men struggling to deal with a clash with one of their closest friends.
There are also hints that Charles Xavier saw this coming and took some kind of secret action in an attempt to protect Jean, which seems to be blowing up in his face. In the comics, Xavier is eventually able to bring Jean back from her destructive Dark Phoenix persona, for a time, by putting some psychic checks on her powers, and it seems like, in this version, he’s already done something to keep Jean’s power in check, without her knowledge, which probably wasn’t the best course of action—and might be breaking down because of it.
We also get a look at Jessica Chastain’s character, a shapeshifter currently known only as “Smith,” who seems to be taking a role in guiding Jean towards her darker impulses, perhaps (roughly) inspired by Mastermind’s similar role in the comics story. Although, Mastermind manipulates Jean psychically, and the result of a mental battle between him and Cyclops is what eventually pushes Jean over the edge into Dark Phoenix territory.
Here, it seems that Smith may be turning Jean against the X-Men in a more direct way, probably leveraging whatever secrets Charles is hiding to make her question who’s really on her side. It’s still hard to tell, at this point, how the movie will eventually turn out, but keeping things focused on troubled relationships between the main characters, and growing the plot out of that, is at least a promising start.
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