Foxs Dark Phoenix Brightens Expectations With WonderCon Win

Just before the WonderCon panel, featuring the filmmakers and cast members of Dark Phoenix, the latest X-Men film from Fox, a message over the public address system informed the crowd at the Anaheim Convention Centers Arena that no time would be allotted for audience questions. There was an amused murmur from the crowd that seemed to say: That figures.

Dark Phoenix wont open in theaters until June 7 but the films reputation has taken a beating for months with some of the harshest advance word of any major superhero sequel since, well, the franchises previous installment, X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016. It was not clear, however, how much of that negative word was informed by genuine firsthand knowledge and how much of it was an early-bird pile-on by negative nellies.

With the Disney acquisition of Fox, Dark Phoenix can be viewed as a lame-duck entry in a short-timer superhero universe that will soon be reconsidered, revamped, recast, and relaunched. The movie has a first-time director (longtime X-Men screenwriter Simon Kinberg), a second-hand story (it was adapted already in X-Men: Last Stand in 2006), and a fallback release date (it was originally slotted for last November). The last film also sapped energy out of the franchise, its fanbase, and (reportedly) its cast as well.

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Dark Phoenix tells a classic 1980s tale from the pages of Marvel Comics that may be the most revered epic in Marvels 80 years of publishing. The story focuses on Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), the X-Men character whose vast powers may surge beyond those of any other mutant on earth. After a space mission goes awry, however, Jeans powers threaten to consume her and the entire world with her if she cannot find a way to control their dark appetites. Its the 12th film in Foxs venerable X-Men franchise dating back to Bryan Singers X-Men in 2000.

The panel began with writer-director Simon Kinberg and producer Hutch Parker (later joined by a half-dozen cast members) who both made comments that were candid (and even contrite) regarding the lapses of a franchise that turns 19-years-old this summer. “You let us know when we got it wrong,” Kinberg said at one point. Parker, while praising the classic X-Men comics, said the franchise stumbled when it didnt hew to the source material: “The underlying material is just so good and frankly its better than weve been as storytellers in some cases. This is a film that aspires to try to tackle the potential of all of that while honoring the legacy and the characters.”

With all of that as a preamble, it was easy to expect the worst when the arena lights went down and new footage filled the screen. Instead a funny thing happened. The 10-minute sequence from the first act of Dark Phoenix wasnt bad — it was, in fact, the opposite of bad. Which is to say it was good. Very good. Like X-Men: Days of Future Past kind of good.

The crowd cheered enthusiastically for action-packed scenes, which were brisk, evocative, and intense. There was humor and conflict. Team unity and character traits were revealed through action, team division and inner conflict were communicated with subtlety. To avoid mild spoilers, skip the next two paragraphs, which summarize the first-act footage shown today.

The scene begins with the X-Men — Jean Gray (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Quicksilver (Evan Peters), and team leader Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) — embarking on a desperate rescue mission in space. Professor X (James McCoy) is in communication with the team and with NASA as well and reveals the details of the crisis. A disabled shuttle and its crew are in the path of a solar flare, time is short. Mystique crisply directs the team into action — as Beast pilots, Cyclops slides down into a one-man turret on the belly of the Blackbird jet and uses his power blasts to steady the shuttle. Storm uses her power to contain its escaping air. Nightcrawler and Quicksilver teleport to the craft and retrieve the crew. But theres a problem — one astronaut is still missing.

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The solar flare is approaching and Professor X and Mystique debate the wisdom of going back for the remaining astronaut. In the end, a frustrated Mystique relents. Nightcrawler and Jean go aboard the shuttle. Jean uses her power to hold the blistering and disintegrating hull intact while Nightcrawler finds the crewman. The flare hits. Nigtcrawler and the astronaut make it back to the Blackbird but Jean does not. Instead she absorbs the flare in dramatic fashion. The X-Men think shes dead when they bring Jean back aboard but she is seemingly uninjured. The X-Men are greeted as heroes back on earth by a grateful nation and adoring youngsters with blue face make-up and action figures. Back at the mansion headquarters of the team, Quicksilver boasts about his exploits in space, Beast begins medical tests for Jean and tension simmers between Professor X and Mystique. She ends their terse exchange by pointing out that the men on the team arent the one who do most of the risk-taking in the field. “You might want to think about changing the name to X-Women.”

The audience cheered long and loud, especially for the X-Women line, which resonates strongly with the current Read More – Source

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