The train has left the station at Fox as they embark on a second attempt at the Dark Phoenix saga. This marks Simon Kinberg taking over as director, after producing in the past on this franchise, and with X-Men: Dark Phoenix, there’s another big first as the movie deals with the first time the X-Men are facing off against cosmic entities. Lilandra and the Shi’ar are also expected to arrive as aliens so it’s a departure from the mutant-on-mutant wars we usually see from the studio. Fans took Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand to task and the critics also panned it, so folks are still tentative as to why Fox wanted to do this arc again.
That said, with Charles Xavier, Mystique and Magneto returning, it will be intriguing as to how the young team has evolved since we last saw them. They were training for something bigger it seemed, and Cyclops was in a budding state of romance with Jean Grey, who showed hints of her underlying power as she helped vanquish Apocalypse. What this movie offers, though, is a new space for Kinberg to fiddle with. As such, CBR decided to look at a few faces we want to see in it and some we don’t!
SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Fox’s X-Men movies
15. NEED: GLADIATOR
Gladiator is one of Marvel Comics’ most powerful and disciplined characters. His loyalty to Lilandra and the Shi’ar Empire also runs deep, and even went mainstream when the 1992 animated series covered the Phoenix saga. In the comics, he’s also loved Lilandra apart from just being the big bodyguard, so with news that Jessica Chastain is being lined up to portray her, we hope he’s involved.
If Lilandra comes looking to put the potential Phoenix host down, Gladiator needs to flex his muscle as leader of the Imperial Guard, which more or less acts as the Shi’ar’s main military force. Comic fans have seen time and time again how heavy a hitter he is when throwing down against the X-Men or the Avengers, so Kinberg should be writing him in to give Xavier’s charges a real headache.
14. AVOID: RACHEL SUMMERS
At this point, Fox is still fleshing out Scott Summers as the hero known as Cyclops, as well as things like his relationship with Jean and how he’s coping with Havok’s death in X-Men: Apocalypse. Introducing the daughter of alternate versions of him and Jean would be a bit too much here and could well be seen as convoluted. Sure, Rachel’s wielded the Phoenix Force before but again, that’s too much story to unpack.
Rachel would be a great follow-up in future sequels as Fox has no problem doing time-travel but right now, Kinberg and team would be better off limiting the Phoenix drama to Jean alone, allowing Scott to really shine light on their dynamic and potential love. Besides, at their present age, a future daughter and the multiverse represent a lot of emotional baggage to throw in the mix.
13. NEED: FORGE
Instead of using Forge as a tech-genius and time-travel engineer from the future, maybe Fox could retcon him as the brain here that helps get the X-Men into space. If they go that full-blown cosmic route, Hank McCoy may need some technical expertise in forging that grand adventure for Xavier’s mutants. The jury’s still out as to if Forge will play a part in Cable’s time-hopping journeys but this could be a great start to his work.
Forge is the kind of clout the X-Men need in terms of weapons, allowing Beast to step back into things like diplomacy, cures and other areas of scientific research. Forge is a perfect fit to make the team more tactical and militarized, and who knows, maybe he’ll prep them for when the likes of Cable and Bishop do eventually cross swords and guns with the youngsters.
12. AVOID: SINISTER
Fans were disappointed when the Essex Corp. tease in Apocalypse didn’t lead to Sinister appearing in Logan, which means Fox still has him in their villainous arsenal. Jean as the Phoenix host could leave wiggle room for the mad scientist and geneticist extraordinaire to make his way into this movie, but we’d prefer if he’s kept for something that could be more dedicated to his studies and attempts to control the mutant and human populations.
Sinister’s work usually involves a lot of tinkering with Scott and Jean but Kinberg’s movie should not have any external influences when it comes to the X-Men trying to stave off the Phoenix and of course, a cautious Shi’ar Empire. This movie feels more like an all-out action and war film, so Sinister ought to be kept for a suspenseful and cerebral affair.
11. NEED: COLOSSUS
Colossus was not thoroughly developed in the first three movies from Fox and was more or less relegated to cameos until Deadpool brought him into the light with Negasonic Teenage Warhead. The Russian got more screen-time, speaking and kicking major ass, showing us what we’re missing out on. He was clearly in the X-mansion in that film, so hopefully Xavier and Mystique have expanded their roster.
With Magik set for the New Mutants movie, threads should be laid down here for them as siblings to make the eventual connection between both teams more organic and meaningful. Colossus has always been a fan-fave so Fox would be remiss in not fully capitalizing on him turning from flesh-to-steel and being a true soldier in the battle to protect mutantkind. Colossus brought humor and action to the table, so what do they have to lose?
10. AVOID: ROGUE
We’re all a sucker for our little Southern belle, but Rogue’s return to the franchise should be done right. After the first two Bryan Singer movies, she became more or less peripheral, even getting an axe to her cameo in X-Men: Days of Future Past. It’s a tragedy given how big a player she is for mutants in the comics, even joining the ranks of the Avengers.
However, when she returns, whether it’s Anna Paquin in a veteran’s role or a totally new face, it should be on Earth where her story can be integrated into mutants trying to find their place as runaways and hideaways — not battling against galactic genocide. She’s not made for this interstellar story and should ideally be kept for the Gambit solo movie so that their dynamic as reluctant heroes can be dissected.
9. NEED: PSYLOCKE
Psylocke kicked major ass as one of Apocalypse’s Horsemen and that’s the kind of formidable and physical oomph the X-Men need in their ranks. She would bolster the team’s attack and at the end of Apocalypse, the character (played by Olivia Munn) appeared to have survived and gone on the lam. Bringing her back would be smart as she also has a cult following with fans and deserves redemption.
Psylocke would also fit into Fox’s vision if they wanted to go the route that Rick Remender laid down at Marvel Comics for their X-Force movie. In the cinematic universe, she’s anything but a girl-scout so when it comes to darker, more aggressive tones, her name ought to be first on the list. Kinberg needs some killer instinct in the roster and Psylocke will surely provide this in abundance.
8. AVOID: CORSAIR
As previously mentioned, the Summers saga should be kept limited to Scott alone for now. Fox’s reboot of the franchise didn’t dive too much into the family’s backstory so maybe his dad did end up being the space pirate known as Corsair as per the books, but if Kinberg’s writing team is smart, they would stay away from such complexities. Corsair, and by extension, his crew (known as the Starjammers) would jumble the story up way too much.
The father-son dynamic would take away emotional focus from that of Scott and Jean, who are fairly young, and still mapping their own paths out to each other. If Fox ever does another cosmic flick, Corsair would be a great person to bring in, along with his ragtag band of spacefarers; but for now, no daddy issues please.
7. NEED: ANNIHILUS
Fox isn’t doing anything much with Annihilus and the potential threat that the Annihilation Wave can bring to the world, so why not tease the existence of more cosmic dangers as the X-Men discover the range of dark entities in the recesses of space. This could even lay tracks down for a potential crossover with the Fantastic Four, as that franchise has been inactive since Josh Trank’s movie tanked.
Such a hint could be what we need to reinvigorate comics’ first family. Just like Avengers: Infinity War is doing for the MCU, this move has legs to revamp Fox’s filmverse like never before and really map out a shared universe where mutant saviors find that Reed Richards and company are ready to stand with them. Imagine what Reed and Beast could accomplish! Fox need to think big and be daring with both properties.
6. AVOID: GAMBIT
Gambit has a rich history, and with a solo movie barely clinging to life, one would think that Fox should cut losses and throw him here into the thick of things. However, that wouldn’t be smart because his story can be done justice on a scaled-down and more focused basis. Faces like Sinister, Rogue and the Marauders are all linked to him, and his involvement with the X-Men is actually deeper than the typical recruitment drive.
There are layers of emotional complexities and subterfuge to his past as a thief and operative-for-hire, plus his vibe should be first looked at in its more mature, adult-themed nature before going mainstream. Gambit is slick and sexy so Fox should take time in watering him down for the X-Men films, or else we’d get another poor depiction, a la X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
5. NEED: ANGEL
Angel also went on the run following Apocalypse, so that’s one more former Horseman that Xavier and Mystique could rope into the fray. He was last seen as Archangel with his metal wings being a key weapon, so if he still has any of that left over after Apocalypse lost, then that would be even better.
He’s been a major player in the team in the books and deserves a proper run as a hero from Fox. Also, the team would require someone with such flight abilities for recon work and especially, if they are to be fighting aliens! We don’t need much more insight into his past as the rich kid, Warren Worthington, whose family didn’t accept him. Instead, let’s focus on the Angel who’s ready to add firepower to the X-Men when they go on the offensive.
4. AVOID: ICEMAN
Iceman would usually be one of the first names to make the cut, but in this case, we’d prefer to see Bobby Drake’s story unfold in an Earth setting where more attention can be paid to it. Dark Phoenix is essentially a Jean Grey story so he’d feel chucked in just to make numbers up. When Xavier does expand his roster, Bobby’s addition should feel like it has a lot of emotional tissue to it.
Fox would also be clever to play up what Marvel Comics did when they used the version of Iceman plucked from the past and made him gay. Gay superheroes offer new ground to break on-screen, so Iceman’s story could hold a ton more potential if it’s done properly, with Fox and Xavier addressing another issue that makes someone an outsider, on top of being a mutant.
3. NEED: KORVUS
Korvus has had a topsy-turvy time in the comics, with his love for Rachel Summers and membership with the Starjammers often throwing his life into disarray. However, he wielded the Blade of the Phoenix, which, as the name implies, has very big ties to the Phoenix entity and its host. This would make him a tremendous asset if Lilandra has him in her squad.
Fox could easily retcon things and make him part of the Imperial Guard, and their version of Wolverine. He’s always been loyal to his posse and is ready to protect the galaxy so he would be viewed as an anti-hero more than a villain. Korvus would also provide a point of morality for the X-Men to look to, and could be the key to the aliens understanding the X-Men’s duty to protect one of their own.
2. AVOID: NEW MUTANTS
Fox is already in the swing of things with their New Mutants movie and with casting already underway, there’s a chance a few faces from Josh Boone’s film could make a cameo or pop up in an easter egg here or there to promote their cinematic debut. If the battle ends up being spread across Earth, then maybe some of Boone’s mutants, such as Dani Moonstar, Wolfsbane, Cannonball and the rest, may end up in a sequence or two defending the planet.
However, Fox shouldn’t force this issue because we want them on a path of discovery in their own movie. Appearing here would defeat that purpose and make them feel like potential recruits for the X-Men. It’s better to keep them separate so their collective has its own signature, identity and essence. Let’s not clutter things up in Dark Phoenix.
1. NEED: CABLE
With so much of Cable’s (played by Josh Brolin) entry into the Fox universe kept under wraps, it should be one that spells out great disaster. Hence the reason why he’s prepared to surf the timestream. If this movie ends up leaving big marks on the history of mutants, it should serve as a huge landmark for Cable to focus on and to whet our appetites as to his arrival. So, why shouldn’t Fox land him here for a bit?
It would kickstart momentum for when he heads off to find Deadpool for that sequel and also, it paints Cable as someone who’s keeping tabs on all the enemies, events and heroes affecting mutantkind. Cable taking interest here also shows he is monitoring the X-Men’s actions so whether it’s in a cameo, easter egg or after-credits, we want to see him taking notes of Jean’s possession.
Let us know in the comments who you want to see in X-Men: Dark Phoenix and the other faces you don’t want in it!