The Dark Phoenix Saga is one of the classic comic book epic storylines. X-Men: The Last Stand just did not do it justice, but the recent casting announcement for X-Men: Dark Phoenix gives comic book fans hope that they will be doing the story justice.
The Hollywood Reporter is saying that Jessica Chastain is in talks to play the film’s villain, an alien by the name of Lilandra.
Calling Lilandra a villain is a gross oversimplification of the character and her role in the Dark Phoenix Saga. If the film follows close to the legendary Chris Claremont & John Byrne story arc, Jean Grey (who will once again be played by Sophie Turner) becomes the omnipotent Phoenix. The power corrupts Grey and turns her evil. She travels to a neighboring solar system and sends a star into supernova to feed on the energy released. However, that act causes the deaths of billions of sentient life forms who lived near the star.
This is where Lilandra comes in. Having a being that powerful scares the other alien races in the universe. Lilandra, queen of the alien Shi’ar race, and her super powered Imperial Guard come to Earth. Their mission is to make Grey pay for her crime and make sure she never does anything like that again. The X-Men fight the aliens in order to save Jean’s life, only to have Jean take her own life so her dark side doesn’t kill again.
So, Lilandra should be more of a complex antagonist than an outright villain. And if that is not enough, in the comic Lilandra also has a romantic connection to Professor Xavier. Hopefully, they will explore that in the film as James McAvoy has renewed his contract with Fox so he can appear in the film. Fox also worked out similar agreements Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult so the whole gang will be back together. Alexandra Shipp, Tye Sheridan and Kodi Smit-McPhee return as well.
Does the news get any better than that? Unfortunately, no. Because Simon Kinberg is writing and, more troubling, making his directorial debut on the film. Kinberg’s writing is hit or miss at best (he wrote the abysmal X-Men: The Last Stand that I mentioned above). But a story of this scale and scope needs a director who know what he’s doing, not a novice first-timer. So, Kinberg at the helm makes me worried.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix opens on November 2, 2018.