When Dark Phoenix arrives this June, fans hope to see one of the most celebrated arcs in comics history finally get the treatment it deserves, a sentiment that also goes for one of the most popular, yet underserved X-Men: Storm.
Halle Berry was easily the most mainstream movie star to join the X-Men in their 2000 debut on the big screen, despite being flanked by Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen and future legend Hugh Jackman. In the end, though, her casting seemed to indicate Storm would have a far more significant role than audiences actually wound up seeing. Not only did we rarely get to see her use her powers in comparison to mutants like Professor X, Wolverine, Magneto and Rogue, much of her backstory, characterization and significance to the team got largely ignored. The rest of the trilogy delivered more of the same, favoring Xavier and Magneto’s rivalry, Jean’s transformation into Phoenix and Wolverine’s overall story over fleshing out Storm’s background.
Storm’s power to control the elements, of course, makes her a mutant with powers that have the capacity to wreak havoc on a massive scale. The X-Men comics and cartoons often feature the mutant using the wind to fly, calling on massive blizzards and other extreme weather to aid the X-Men in whatever mission was at hand.
More importantly, they also see her speak up and assert herself rather than being relegated to a background character. In the comics and the cartoons, Storm has served as leader of the X-Men, but considering Berry’s Storm had to compete with huge stories that only necessitated her in a supporting role, both the character's powers and leadership were constantly overshadowed. Shipp’s first outing as Storm didn't see much of an improvement, given we barely saw the character appear, much less speak. Thankfully, according to Alexandra Shipp, we may finally get to see more of the Storm we know from previous X-Men lore finally make her way to the big screen.
Shipp, who has played the heroic mutant since 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse, promises Simon Kinberg’s re-adaptation of the X-Men's Dark Phoenix story will introduce audiences to a new, more assertive version of the fan-favorite Marvel hero. “Not only have we not seen Storm like this, we have rarely heard her speak,” Shipp told CBR. “I wanted to give people a type of Storm that they could be proud of. I wanted her accent to be on point… I made sure that every time she was doing a new summoning of a new element that it was a new movement physically.”
The footage released at WonderCon backed up Shipp's assertions, revealing a Storm who feels like an equal player in the battle to reclaim Jean Grey from the Phoenix Force. She’s shown fiercely arguing and later fighting on behalf of her friend when Magneto & Co. arrive in New York to eliminate Jean and avenge Raven’s death. If her work in that scene is any indication, this is a Storm different from anything we’ve seen to date, and in a good way.
“In the comic books, she’s always calling upon the wind or calling upon the hail or calling upon things, and we don’t have the time for that dialogue," Shipp told CBR, laughing as she explained how she brought her character's powers to life. "A lot of the time, you gotta do it with a look or a hand gesture movement. For me that made the most sense, I wanted to make sure that she was her own individual superhero outside of people who were just doing their own thing.”
While Storm remains a supporting character in the movie, this is a film that looks like it’s taken the time to imbue her with a history that pays homage to her significance as a character. At the very least it’s going to serve us more of an active presence than Berry’s was allowed to. Or at least a more outspoken one.
Directed and written by Simon Kinberg, Dark Phoenix stars James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X, Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto, Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme/Mystique, Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast, Sophie Turner as Jean Grey/Phoenix, Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers/Cyclops, Alexandra Shipp as Ororo Munroe/Storm, Kodi Smit-McPhee as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler, Evan Peters as Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver and Jessica Chastain. The film arrives June 7.