Entertainment Weekly has released its First Look issue, sharing sneak peeks at everything from Fantastic Beasts 2 to The Incredibles 2. But the cover star is Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), looking positively incendiary as the mutant’s galactically powerful alter ego Phoenix. As well she should, seeing as it took nearly a year of post-production to bring Phoenix to life.
“I wanted the post time to deliver on the nuance of the visual effects, not just the scale of them,” writer-director Simon Kinberg explains in the cover story. “That takes time.” It’s a fitting quote for Kinberg, who first attempted to translate this iconic plotline (based in part on Chris Claremont’s comic book arc) to the big screen in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand… but we all know how that went. Now, over a decade later, he gets another chance.
Set in 1992, about 10 years after the events of last year’s X-Men: Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix opens with the X-Men, including Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Quicksilver (Evan Peters), in a new, unexpected role: national heroes. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) even lands on the cover of Time magazine. But his growing ego puts the team at risk. “Pride is starting to get the better of him, and he is pushing the X-Men to more extreme missions,” Kinberg says. After they’re dispatched to space for a rescue mission, a solar flare hits the X-Jet and the surge of energy ignites a malevolent, power-hungry new force within Jean (Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner)— the Phoenix.
Based partially on Chris Claremont’s comic, Phoenix will feature some of the series’ biggest set pieces to date, including the X-Men’s first trip to outer space. It’s also the most sinister, and somber, chapter in the saga and includes a massive twist halfway through that will irrevocably change the course of the franchise. “This is probably the most emotional X-Men we’ve done and the most pathos-driven,” McAvoy says. “There’s a lot of sacrifice and a lot of suffering.” The movie becomes a fight for Jean’s soul as Phoenix threatens to overtake her mind and divide the X-Men, particularly Jean and her mentor, Charles. “It’s about the butterfly effect of this thing happening,” says Turner, who studied schizophrenia and multiple personality disorders to prepare. “What happens when the person you love the most falls into darkness?”
The magazine also has a bevy of photos, including some of the X-Men at a funeral (!) and the full shot of Jean in all her glory.
Turner also shared how she studied multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia in order to embody Jean Grey and Phoenix in one: “So many scenes I have to go from broken-down Jean—that’s when she’s most subsceptible to Phoenix infiltrating her—to this confident, arrogant, judgmental character within milliseconds.”
X-Men: Dark Phoenix comes to theaters November 2, 2018.