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X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX gets a villain, release date and confirmed new director!


Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. Deadline has a big story about the current state of the X-Men Cinematic Universe, with the biggest news being the (likely) casting of Jessica Chastain as Lilandra, the Empress of the Shi'ar Empire. They list her as the villain of the new movie, Dark Phoenix, which is interesting for comic book fans.

We know Lilandra played a big part in trying to kill Phoenix, but only because she was trying to save the entire galaxy from the power she possessed. When the Dark Phoenix power takes over Jean Grey she sustains it by draining the power of suns in different galaxies, killing every living thing on the planets surrounding it. In the eyes of Lilandra (and the Shi'ar) Dark Phoenix is as bad as Galactus.

In the books, Xavier is able to telepathically help Jean control the power, but the Shi'ar still see her as Space Hitler and want her head. The problem is their failsafe measure to subdue the Dark Phoenix power would also obliterate our galaxy.



It's an interesting character, enraged at the loss of life, but willing to take equal measures to ensure that power is stopped. A little on the nose with the nuclear war allegory, but it made for one of the best runs ever of any X-Men book.

Interestingly enough, Lilandra and Xavier become sweethearts later on in the series. If my memory isn't failing me in my old age I think they were even married at one point.

The other news revealed in the Deadline piece is that Fox is aiming for a super quick turnaround on this movie, setting a November 2nd, 2018 release date. Longtime geek property producer and writer Simon Kinberg will direct and Fox has renegotiated the contracts for Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult to return alongside Sophie Turner, Alexandra Shipp, Tye Sheridan and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

Kinberg has paid his dues behind the scenes with this franchise for a decade, but this will be a pretty big test for him as a storyteller. His first directoral outing and it's one of the key X-Men stories ever told that has already been fucked up once (thanks X3!). He messes this one up I doubt we get to see the story told on the big screen again.

I know Lawrence is the bigger star (same for Chastain), but this movie will live and die on Sophie Turner's shoulders. You gotta love Jean Grey and be scared of Dark Phoenix's power and lust for more. That's two different characters that inhabit the same body. You gotta buy them both or this doesn't work. You also gotta buy the love between Grey and Psyclops.

My only real concern about this right now is that something like Dark Phoenix should be built up to. We didn't get a whole hell of a lot of Jean and Scott in Apocalypse and now we're getting the whole Dark Phoenix saga in one movie. They did the same with X3, but at least there we had 2 movies of character building between those two characters.

It's not impossible, but it's a steep slope for Kinberg and his team to climb. I hope they pull it off, though. It was this and the Black Suit Saga that pulled me into comics back in the day. I have a lot of love for this story.

What about you? What do you guys think?

-Eric Vespe
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