The first Dark Phoenix trailer is here, and short and cryptic though it may be, it’s still chock-full of intriguing hints about what’s in store for the X-Men and their most formidable foe yet.
Jean has always been portrayed as one of Xavier’s earliest and most talented students, and it appears Dark Phoenix is going to spend at least some time looking back at her childhood when her powers first began developing. Jean asking if Xavier can “fix” her isn’t all that unordinary for her or any other young mutant (nor is Xavier’s assertion that she isn’t “broken”), but the circumstances of Jean’s X-gene activating make the exchange that much more meaningful given what we know is soon to happen to her. It’s also interesting to note that Xavier’s still got all of his hair, meaning that his first meeting with Jean takes place sometime after the events of First Class but before X-Men: Apocalypse.
In almost every telling of Jean’s origins, her powers always begin to spike in a moment of extreme stress that results in death around her. In Marvel Comics, Jean’s powers first reveal themselves when she witnesses her best friend being hit by a car and she psychically feels her friend dying. Dark Phoenix’s car accident seems to be caused by Jean herself, and even though she’s in the back seat, she’s able to protect herself from most of the physical harm, though it’s unclear what happens to her parents and the person in the other car.
During the previous scenes, Mystique has a conversation with Xavier about something he did in the past, which Xavier explains as “protecting her.” Knowing Xavier the way she does, though, Mystique immediately understands that what he’s trying to pass off as protecting is actually lying—in this case, to Jean.
Jean’s going to seek Magneto out and find him on what appears to be an isolated island (that could very well be the beginning of Genosha, an island nation that eventually became a home for Mutantkind, before it got razed by Sentinels), to ask him for answers on things one imagines Xavier won’t speak to her about.
Jessica Chastain’s mysterious character who is an alien, but is not Mastermind is very interested in Jean for reasons we still don’t know. But, her accurate read of Jean’s uncertainty about whether she’s like other mutants and her saying that the others “can’t comprehend what [she] is” strongly suggests she’s familiar with the Phoenix Force.
There had been persistent rumors that Chastain could be possibly playing Lilandra, the Empress of the Shi’ar, a cosmic race who have a long relationship with the X-Men in the comics through the original Dark Phoenix saga (and beef with the Kree, the Marvel race playing a prominent role in Captain Marvel)—but Chastain has denied that’s the case.
Sporting new costumes inspired by Frank Quitely’s New X-Men designs, Xavier and the other X-Men will show down against Jean just as she begins to use her new Phoenix powers more offensively on baseline humans foolish enough to challenge her.
Because there’s so little of Jean being her traditional comics Dark Phoenix self in the trailer, the moment she uses her telekinesis to pull a helicopter into the ground and then purposefully pull it towards soldiers stands out. It isn’t just that she’s become vastly stronger than she was before, but she’s got no qualms about using her abilities to kill people. What’s even more horrifying is that from the looks of it, she’s not even trying particularly hard—this is just her having a bit of fun.
Because Dark Phoenix is set to be a more cosmic take on the story, it’s not surprising that the X-Men head into space for an as-yet unexplained mission—but according to information released by Entertainment Weekly back in December 2017, it’s during this mission, early in the film, that an encounter with a solar flare awakens the Phoenix within Jean.
As the most sensible member of Xavier’s cohort, Hank is quick to call Xavier out for playing an instrumental role in the mess they’ve all found themselves in. Interestingly, this shot also gives us the briefest glimpse of what appears to be the specific moment that sets all of Dark Phoenix in motion: the aforementioned solar flare that unleashes’ Jean’s darkest powers.
“You’re always sorry, Charles. And there’s always a speech. And nobody cares,” is perhaps the line of the trailer, because Magneto’s right—no matter how badly Xavier messes up (see: almost all of his students dying in First Class), he never stops to think that he’s actually part of the problem. Yet again, Xavier’s put them all in harm’s way, and so Magneto does the only thing he can by putting on that helmet and preparing himself for battle.
Being the man that he is, Magneto never goes into battle alone, and this time around he’ll be joined by Beast and newcomers Selene (Kota Eberhardt) and Red Lotus (Andrew Stehlin). In the comics, Selene (who’s a kind of psychic vampire) has actually got a bit of a connection to the Phoenix Force by way of the Hellfire Club. Red Lotus, on the other hand, not so much.
This wouldn’t be a proper movie about the Dark Phoenix if there wasn’t a death and a funeral that shakes the X-Men to their core. Could it be Jean’s, in the wake of Phoenix’s death? What’ll be fascinating to see is when this funeral takes place, because it could very well happen immediately after the accident in space, when the team might mistakenly (though understandably) assume that Jean has died. Or, the scene could be toward the end of the film after they somehow manage to take her down.
The trailer also gives some hints that this might not be Jean’s death—it could even possibly be Mystique’s death. Her death would explain at least the cryptic shots of Hank arguing with Charles, and reason for him to side with Magneto. Plus, Jennifer Lawrence has long been suspected of not wanting to do any more X-Men movies (before she suddenly decided to join Dark Phoenix), so sacrificing her character to show the danger Jean is capable of could be on the table.
The last few shots of the trailer might very well be from different, unconnected scenes, but the one thing that ties them all together is that everyone seems distressed and terrified—most of all Jean, who we finally see being bathed in a swath of cosmic flames heralding the Phoenix’s emergence.
Get ready, folks. Dark Phoenix hits theaters February 14, 2019.
Update 9/28 3:45: Fox has just announced that Dark Phoenix’s release date has been pushed back once again and is now slated to premiere on June 7.