For a time, there was a bit of confusion and uncertainty as to what the next X-Men film’s story would be. “X-Men: Apocalypse” dropped the seeds for a story about the Phoenix Force, but we were still uncertain the sequel would tackle the subject. Now that it has been announced that the title of the next film will be “X-Men: Dark Phoenix,” the speculating can stop.
“The Dark Phoenix Saga” was a seminal event that defined “X-Men” comics, a classic that saw a dark and twisted Jean Grey consumed by her power. It was a giant story of cosmic and epic proportions that will no doubt take some meticulous planning to correctly adapt. But with the comic’s classic status, we can only hope that this new movie will give us everything we hope for. That’s why CBR is taking a look at 16 things we NEED to see in this now anticipated “X-Men” movie.
After all of the previous “X-Men” movies have remained Earthbound, it’s time for “Dark Phoenix” to take the X-Men into space. First of all, with so much of “The Dark Phoenix Saga” involving the cosmic nature of the Phoenix entity and the X-Men travelling out into the cosmos itself, this would be the only way to do the actual story justice. And second of all, this would be an opportunity to really change up the formula of what the “X-Men” movies have become over the past few years.
A story set mostly or partially in space could bring a whole new sci-fi flair to the franchise, and could be compared to the likes of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, all while having the chance to become its very own thing. The “X-Men” comics have never been shy about taking the team to space and it would be time for the movie franchise to embrace the crazier aspects of the comic books. As the Guardians have shown, there is a place and definitely a demand for superhero stories set outside of the boundaries of Earth.
15. THE SHI’AR EMPIRE
The alien race of the Shi’ar appeared prominently in the comic book storyline. They were roped into the conflict when the Dark Phoenix looked to leave her old life behind and left Earth to travel to another galaxy entirely, a feat that left her mostly drained of her abilities. To make up for it, she consumed an entire star to recharge, something that was witnessed by the Shi’ar, who then deemed the Phoenix a force too dangerous to be allowed to exist.
This put the Shi’ar Empire in direct conflict with the X-Men. They didn’t care if Jean was simply possessed by the Phoenix, nor did they care if she was still sometimes in control. They sentenced her to death because of her actions, and the X-Men simply wouldn’t have it. This conflict was at the heart of the comics and so too should it be in the movie. With the story going full-blown cosmic, the Shi’ar absolutely need to be introduced as antagonists in the film.
14. THE STARJAMMERS
In the Marvel comic books, the Starjammers are a lovable team of misfits, space pirates that roam the starways looking for trouble. But in true swashbuckling pirate fashion, they are the kind you root for, the kind that somehow mostly always end up on the side of the good guys. If the movie producers choose to fully embrace the cosmic side of the “Dark Phoenix” story and take the X-Men to space and in the crosshairs of the Shi’ar, it could just be that the Starjammers would come help.
In fact, the Starjammers could be introduced as the pirates they are, enemies of the Shi’ar; an enemy they have in common with the X-Men. Their intervention could play into the X-Men’s favor and allow them to have a bit of help in an environment they are quite unfamiliar with. Out of their depths, the X-Men could find themselves allied with the Starjammers, who could not only function as their space guides, but also as valuable allies in the fight to save Jean.
13. THE NEW APOCALYPSE TEAM
“X-Men: Apocalypse” ended with an awesome scene that featured some of the most beloved young X-Men characters starting out on their journey as a team. Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Storm and Quicksilver were getting ready to train in the Danger Room, with Mystique and Beast as their mentors and trainers. Going into “Dark Phoenix,” we hope that this new team is at the forefront of the movie. After “X-Men: First Class” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” we haven’t seen a lot of team members stay on from one movie to the next, save for the big names.
Now is the time to bring the team that was introduced in that closing scene, a team we had slowly come to grow fond of over the course of “Apocalypse.” In fact, “Dark Phoenix” would do well to abandon the Mystique and Beast characters completely and focus on the new young team. That way, these characters would have more screen time, and be allowed to grow more as characters. And besides, with Mystique and Beast gone, that would open up two spots on the team…
12. GAMBIT AND (A NEW) ROGUE
With the “Gambit” movie effectively and seemingly perpetually stuck in development hell, “Dark Phoenix” would be the opportune time to bring Gambit to the screen. The producers already have Channing Tatum cast in the role and no movie to feature him in yet, so why not “Dark Phoenix?” He would not only bring a bit of new star-power to this cast, he could do it without taking the spotlight away from them as far as focus and development. This could be his introduction and his inception as a fan-favorite, scene-stealing character for moviegoers.
And whoever says Gambit also knows that Rogue can’t be far behind. The two are famously known among fans to be a lasting couple. They have a particular relationship and partnership that sets them apart from the rest, and the introduction of a new actress in the role of a more comic-accurate Rogue could start bringing this relationship to the big screen. A relationship that, if done right, could rival the Harley Quinn-Joker pairing in popularity. Now, with Gambit and a fully powered, flying and super-strong Rogue on the team, we would have everything we need to get something else we all want…
11. THE 90S CARTOON VIBE
The 90s “X-Men” animated series is a beloved classic that many fans still abide by today. This was the defining version of the X-Men for an entire generation, a the series that introduced many fans to the characters as their true selves. They were, at the time, faithful representations of who the characters were in the comics, all the way down to their colorful costumes. “Dark Phoenix” could be our chance to finally see all of those aspects we loved from the cartoons finally make it on the big screen.
After “First Class” being set in the ’60s, “Days of Future Past” in the ’70s and “Apocalypse” in the ’80s, it seems only logical that the ’90s be the next decade to be explored by the “X-Men” movies. This means that this movie would be primed to be set in the exact time the cartoon hailed from. It would allow the movie to embrace all the sillier but defining aspects of the animated series, all the while balancing the darker and edgier tone of the movies.
10. RETURN OF THE HELLFIRE CLUB
In the Marvel comics storyline, the Hellfire Club were partially involved with Dark Phoenix, responsible for breaking Jean Grey’s mind and turning her dark. But while this wouldn’t have to be their direct role in the movie, it would still be a nice touch to include them. Introduced in “First Class” under the leadership of Sebastian Shaw, the Hellfire Club’s return could serve as a way to bring things full circle for this series of “X-Men” starring the young cast.
With Shaw dead, the Hellfire Club could be resurgent under new leadership, perhaps Emma Frost, and they could be looking to take control of the Phoenix Force to use it for their own nefarious goals. While the Shi’ar would represent a threat from space, the Hellfire Club would be a threat on Earth. They could be the ones who start this whole mess, and they could be the ones who look to gain the most from it. But to manage that, they would need a secret weapon…
9. THE STEPFORD CUCKOOS
Celeste, Phoebe and Mindee Cuckoo were created as clones/daughters of Emma Frost. Incredibly powerful telepaths that can share a hive-mind, they are triplets that all have the same age and appearance, and they have been a part of the “X-Men” comics for a while. But for “Dark Phoenix,” we could see a change in their origin, one that would see them being created by the Hellfire Club in the hopes of becoming the new hosts for the Phoenix.
If the Hellfire Club were to return looking to control the Phoenix, the Stepford Cuckoos would be their means of control, three hive-minds, instead of a single, unstable one in Jean Grey. Emma Frost and the Hellfire Club could not only attempt to exorcise the power from Jean, they could also succeed in transferring it inside the Cuckoos. This could give us a new ending to the Phoenix saga, one that would see the Stepford Cuckoos rebel against their creators and join Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters as stable hosts for the Phoenix Force and Jean Grey free from it. And alive.
8. MAGNETO AND QUICKSILVER REUNION
“X-Men: Apocalypse” ended with Magneto seemingly on good terms with Professor X and off on his own to parts unknown. While we wouldn’t want him to return in a starring role, we would at least like to see him return to offer a payoff as well as closure to the setup that he is the father of Quicksilver. It was teased in “Days of Future Past” and Quicksilver almost revealed his identity to his father in “Apocalypse,” but it would seem that would be left for another movie.
Therefore, we would like for “Dark Phoenix” to bring Magneto back at least for a scene where Pietro seeks out his help. Magneto is a man that has lost two families, and he deserves to know that he has a third one out there. If the movie looks to bring him back in a big way, then Magneto could always be brought on to defend Xavier’s School while the X-Men are away in space. And there, he could team-up with his own son as they face the wrath of the Hellfire Club.
7. PROFESSOR X AND LILANDRA
While it is still unclear if James McAvoy will return as Charles Xavier for “X-Men: Dark Phoenix,” we certainly hope the actor will take the time to return to the role. As leader of the X-Men, Xavier is an important part of the cast and he should be present for a story as big and important as this one. McAvoy’s Xavier has always brought a figure of trust and leadership, of comfort and inspiration to his students and he should be there when they need him most.
Besides, with Xavier leaving into space along with his X-Men, this could allow us to see the start of another famous relationship he has in the comic books with Lilandra, the Empress of the Shi’ar. With the X-Men in direct conflict with these aliens, it would be interesting to see the factions’ separate leaders square off over the fate of the Phoenix and Jean, just as they discover how much they have in common and how attracted they are to one another. Not only would it be interesting to see the Professor deal with his feelings, it could also lead to something unexpected…
6. A TIE-IN TO LEGION
The “Legion” television series over on FX was a wonderful surprise this year; an inventive, surreal and cerebral take on the superhero genre. The titular character, Legion, aka David Haller, is a powerful telepath famously known for being the son of Charles Xavier. While Legion served as its own thing, a separate entity from the “X-Men” movies, it has been suggested that he is, indeed, the son of a powerful telepath. This would seemingly confirm that in the show, Xavier is in fact Haller’s father.
But who is his mother? If “Dark Phoenix” were to feature a romance between Charles and Lilandra, the movie could end with an after-credits scene that would show us a pregnant Lilandra in her spaceship. Asked by one of her aides what she would wish to do with the child, Lilandra could just end the scene by saying that they will bring him back to Earth, where he belongs. That way, without ever having an official crossover, fans would still have a small tie between the “X-Men” movies and “Legion.”
5. JEAN AND SCOTT
The “X-Men” comics, the old animated series and even the first trilogy of movies featured the Cyclops and Jean Grey romance. They are as recognizable a couple as any other famous one in the Marvel universe, a story that always seems to find its way somewhere. It is a relationship that has defined both characters as much as it has fueled them individually going forward. It is, however, a relationship that always seems to end in heartbreak.
With “Dark Phoenix” focusing so much on Jean Grey and her turn to the dark, we would absolutely need the movie to take the time to establish a strong bond and connection between the two characters. We have seen such hints in “Apocalypse,” but the early portions of “Dark Phoenix” would really need to show us a strong and durable dynamic between the two, an emotional tether for the audience that shows the characters supporting one another and bringing the absolute best out in each other. This will prove crucial if we are to believe Cyclops and the X-Men’s drive to save Jean from the Shi’ar, the Hellfire Club and the Phoenix itself.
4. A CABLE CAMEO
If “Dark Phoenix” were to focus on the Cyclops and Jean relationship as relatively young lovers, this could be a great opportunity to bring in Cable, their future, time-traveling son. Now that Josh Brolin has been cast in the role of Nathan “Cable” Summers for what appears to be a multi-picture contract that starts with “Deadpool 2,” the character could then move on to appear in the next “X-Men” movie. He wouldn’t have to be a main part of the film, however. Considering that Cable wasn’t a part of the comic storyline, a cameo would be more than enough.
In fact, with Jean’s powers augmented to near cosmic levels thanks to the Phoenix Force, we could see Cable come to her in the form of a vision. Whether it would be an actual vision of the future or just something that Jean imagines, Brolin’s Cable could reveal himself as Jean’s son, and we could even get to witness a small reunion of sorts between mother and child. It’s a vision that Jean could then share with Cyclops, so that both parents could see what the future holds for them.
3. CYCLOPS’ ORIGIN STORY
While we know that Scott and Alex Summers are brothers in the movies, there is very little actually known about their past. We know they have parents — a family — but not much else. But that doesn’t mean that those people are their real parents. The Summers brothers could, in fact, have been adopted. After Alex seemingly died in “Apocalypse,” Scott could be in dire need of family, and that void could be addressed and subsequently filled by the arrival of the Starjammers to help the X-Men out against the Shi’ar.
In fact, in the comics, Corsair, the pirate captain of the Starjammers, is a man who used to go by the name Christopher Summers. Scott’s father. Christopher had been abducted by the Shi’ar years before and had been imprisoned by the aliens, only for him to escape with some fellow prisoners and form a band of pirates who would exact their revenge on the Shi’ar: the Starjammers. Therefore, the movie could see a partial adaptation of this story, and give some much needed background and depth to the Scott Summers character, depth that would play heavily into the drama of needing to save Jean and defeat the Shi’ar.
2. AN ACTION-PACKED OPENING SCENE
For as many “X-Men” movies as we have had, not a single one of them has started with an outright jaw-dropping action scene that showed them fully functional as a team. A real fighting unit, a well-oiled machine that has practiced to the point of perfection. “Dark Phoenix” would need to start with an opening scene not unlike that of “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” a scene that saw the Avengers taking on the forces of Baron von Strucker together.
This scene would allow us to see that the team has evolved since the end of “Apocalypse.” It could show us every member in action and a Cyclops fully in control of his team, ordering them and dispatching them for the best outcome possible. It could also serve to rapidly introduce us to new members of the team, like Rogue and Gambit, dropping them in the thick of the action so that the audience could see just what these new versions of the characters are truly capable of. But also, it could show us a real rapport between the X-Men, a strong sense of camaraderie that binds them together.
1. DARK PHOENIX VS. THE X-MEN
“The Dark Phoenix Saga” hinges on Jean Grey going bad. What better way to convey that than to see her unleash her might against the assembled forces of the X-Men. With her mind fractured, Jean would need to turn into a real menace to fully fuel the conflict of the film, which means that we would have to see her crush the X-Men, just as she has done in the comic books. Since Jean is such a strong fixture of the team, it would be truly devastating to see her turn on her friends and family.
If, as mentioned in the previous entry of this list, the movie were to start with a scene showing us the team at the top of their game, a fight between Jean and the X-Men would show us what it takes to take them down. Cyclops would scramble to come up with a plan that wouldn’t hurt Jean, but he would also have the obligation to protect his teammates. This would create a lot of tension and drama and further add to the complexity of Cyclops’ emotional journey in a movie that would hopefully give all X-Men fans the film they have always wanted to see.
What do you need to see in X-Men: Dark Phoenix? Let us know in the comments!