With it looking more and more likely that the next main entry in the "X-Men" movie franchise will be another attempt at adapting the Dark Phoenix storyline from the "X-Men" comic books, now seems as good of a time as any to speculate on just how different the film will be from its source material and also to ponder on what longtime "X-Men" fans and casual moviegoers would want to see.
This latest X-Men movie not only has to adhere to the continuity established in "X-Men: Days of Future Past" and "X-Men: Apocalypse," but it desperately needs to attempt a different take on the Phoenix storyline than had been previously attempted in "X-Men: The Last Stand," lest viewers suffer from a serious sense of déjà vu. Here are 15 things that the currently-dubbed "X-Men: Supernova" needs to get right.
15 THE RETURN OF HAVOK
Along with Professor X, Magneto, Mystique and Beast, Lucas Till's Havok has also been a constant presence in all three of the "X-Men" prequel movies to date. The character began as one of the founding members of the superhero team in "X-Men: First Class," popped up briefly in "X-Men: Days of Future Past," and had a rather significant role in "X-Men: Apocalypse" where he introduced audiences to his brother, Cyclops, before mysteriously vanishing during Apocalypse's attack on the mansion.
While many casual viewers assumed that he was killed off, comic book readers began to suspect that something cosmic may have been at play due to the film's introduction of the Phoenix Force and Apocalypse's extraterrestrial technology. It would make total sense for Havok to have been teleported to safety by the Shi-ar (which would echo what happened to his parents in the comics). An even more natural evolution of the story, however, would be for him to have been abducted by the Starjammers, a team of intergalactic pirates who are led by Cyclops and Havok's father, Corsair. Either way, it would be a glaring omission to exclude Havok from the next movie.
14 THE STARJAMMERS
Like the potential storylines for Havok, the introduction of the Starjammers to the X-Men cinematic universe in the next movie is something that would flow organically with the various cosmic elements having been introduced in "X-Men: Apocalypse." Not only would their appearance make sense for the film's rumored Dark Phoenix storyline, it would also serve to further develop the character growth of Cyclops, who so far has only had one prequel movie to establish himself.
The Starjammers could also be a way for FOX to compete with the MCU's hit "Guardians of the Galaxy" franchise due to how similar the two teams of space scoundrels actually are. Both are led by charming Robin Hood-esque captains and surrounded by a dynamic blend of quirky alien supporting characters. FOX is already actively looking for ways to expand its X-Men cinematic universe with "Deadpool" and "X-Force," so a Starjammers movie could be a huge hit... if the characters are introduced properly, that is.
13 ENTER THE SHI'AR
If the next "X-Men" movie is going to explore the Phoenix Force, it would be crazy for the filmmakers not to include the Shi'ar. This powerful alien race from the "X-Men" comic books not only adds a plethora of mythology to the concept of the Phoenix Force, it also allows for some interesting new character dynamics involving Charles Xavier and the leader of the Shi'ar, Lilandra, but also some potential drama which could connect Cyclops and Havok to the Starjammers and their father.
The introduction of the Shi'ar could also lay the groundwork for the exploration of the third Summers brother, Vulcan, who had been raised in Shi'ar space in the comics. Other Shi'ar characters that deserve to make an appearance are the Imperial Guard. Anyone who watched the classic X-Men cartoon series in the '90s will remember the epic battle between the X-Men and the Imperial Guard. Who wouldn't want to see this recreated on the big screen?
After several minor appearances in the original "X-Men" movie trilogy played by two different actresses, the character of Jubilee was recast yet again and was given an expanded part in the prequel movie, "X-Men: Apocalypse." Her appearance in the film didn't really make sense chronologically due to her appearing to be the same age as her future counterpart, but the renewed focus on the character suggested that audiences would be seeing more of her in future "X-Men" films. If she doesn't appear in the next film, or is simply relegated to a cameo again, it would be extremely disappointing.
For many casual fans who were exposed to the "X-Men" through the '90s cartoon series, Jubilee is one of the most-recognizable characters ever. An entire generation has been waiting for her to be given more to do on the big screen and the new movie should be where it happens, especially if it's taking place in the '90s, as has been rumored. Also, with all of the seriousness and drama that's expected to come during a telling of the "Dark Phoenix Saga," a character like Jubilee could bring some much-needed levity to the proceedings.
11 THE PHALANX
The Phalanx is a terrifying sub-species of alien who were created when living organic beings are infected with the techno-organic transmode virus. They act in a similar way to "Star Trek's" Borg, as they attempt to absorb other lifeforms into their own to form some sort of collective consciousness. The species is incredibly powerful and has even been known to defeat members of the aforementioned Shi'ar in battle.
If the X-Men are going to be exploring space in the next movie, as many believe they will, it would be a very smart idea to introduce the concept of the Phalanx to audiences. While the film will mostly cover the Dark Phoenix, groundwork also needs to be laid for future entries in the "X-Men" film franchise and what better story to cover after the next film than "The Phalanx Covenant." This storyline finally gave Jubilee more to do in the comics and also allowed for the introduction of even more new mutants such as Chamber, Skin, Husk and M, none of whom have appeared in the recent live action films yet (we're not counting that old "Generation X" TV film).
10 BEYOND PHOENIX
As iconic as "The Dark Phoenix Saga" is to comic book fans, the next movie can't rely on this storyline for all of its inspiration simply because it's already been done in "X-Men: The Last Stand." Sure, it's likely that this new interpretation of the classic "X-Men" story will differ from "The Last Stand" with a proper firebird representation of the Phoenix Force and several cosmic story elements like the Shi'ar or even the Starjammers, but for the casual viewer it's still going to feel like a repeat of the same story.
How can the movie fix this problem? By telling another storyline simultaneously and by really focusing on elements that weren't used in "The Last Stand" such as the different alien races and possibly even the history and mythology of the Phoenix Force itself. There's a lot of potential in the comics for other outer space X-Men storylines involving the Shi'ar, and the film would be stronger by focusing on one of these over the Phoenix. The film could even tell a second story with characters left behind on Earth while Jean Grey and the others are star trekking across the universe.
9 JEAN GREY LIVES!
Jean Grey's death as Dark Phoenix is an integral part of "The Dark Phoenix Saga" and many would argue that her death scene is a necessity. The thing is, though, that audiences have already seen this scene play out in "X-Men: The Last Stand" and having Jean die again in similar circumstances would now feel uninspired and repetitive. It's likely that Wolverine won’t be involved in the next "X-Men" movie and that alone will make it quite different than "The Last Stand," but what if the filmmakers really surprised everyone and had Jean live at the end?
Jean's survival has already been hinted at by her appearance at the end of "X-Men: Days of Future Past" and it would make sense that Charles Xavier would have actively been training her differently after Logan showed him glimpses of the future original timeline. Indeed the effects of this can be seen in "X-Men: Apocalypse," with Charles encouraging Jean to embrace her powers by the end and seemingly choosing not to psychically block parts of her powers. Having Jean gain total control of her powers and the Phoenix would be a great surprise ending.
8 THE LOVE TRIANGLE
A plotline that's never really payed-off to its full potential in the "X-Men" prequel movies is the romance between Charles Xavier and Moira MacTaggert. The two characters had great chemistry in "X-Men: First Class" but the ball was sort of dropped due to Moira's complete absence in "X-Men: Days of Future Past." "X-Men: Apocalypse" reintroduced the character to the series and tried to pick things up again but with so many characters and subplots to deal with, the Moira and Charles romance was never really given the attention it deserved.
A great way to return the focus to Charles Xavier's love life is to connect it directly with the main storyline via the arrival of a new love interest in Lilandra Neramani of the Shi-ar alien race. The love triangle, formed between Charles, Moira, and Lilandra, would make for great drama and would also be incredibly amusing given the fact that Moira will be competing with a woman who isn't even of this Earth. "X-Men" has always been a little melodramatic and a love triangle such as this would be both fantastic and fitting.
7 RACHEL GREY
Rachel Grey (or Rachel Summers) is a character from the "X-Men" comic books and is incredibly popular with fans of the franchise. With the growing importance of the Phoenix Force in the new "X-Men" movies, it would be fascinating to see other Phoenix Force hosts appear to see how other beings can use it or to emphasize just how much a part of the Phoenix Force Jean Grey is. Having Robin around makes Batman look stronger and Rachel could do the same for Jean.
Introducing Rachel in the movies would add an entirely new dynamic to the proceedings, especially with Rachel being Jean and Scott's daughter from a future timeline. On one hand there's a danger of being repetitive by using time travel so soon after "Days of Future Past," but if the events of that film were shown to have actually caused the future where Rachel is from, which is likely given that both Jean and Scott are now alive in the present, introducing Rachel would make the series mythology much richer instead.
It's no secret that FOX is working on a live-action "X-Force" movie based on the comic book of the same name. This "X-Men" spin-off could be about a new group of young X-Men in training like the earlier "X-Force" comics, it could go a bit darker and feature a more mature strike-force of mutants like later series, or it could be a combination of both. Either way, this upcoming film has a lot of fans excited and curious to see how it's introduced to the "X-Men" cinematic universe.
One way in which a new series could launch is by introducing several characters first in one of the main "X-Men" movies. This could be done with a background blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo or in a more obvious way by featuring one of the new characters taking part in the main storyline. Psylocke and Archangel have both been parts of "X-Force" in the comics and were introduced in "X-Men: Apocalypse," but other characters could also appear further down the line. Another option could be a mid or post-credits tease, but something like that is already a given.
With the mention of the Essex Corporation at the end of "X-Men: Apocalypse," fans of the "X-Men" comics knew that the villain, Mister Sinister, had finally made it to the "X-Men" cinematic universe. Despite having a small yet integral connection to the movie "Logan" though, the character never actually appeared, which leaves his onscreen debut in the hands of another future "X-Men" film.
Mister Sinister could actually be a natural fit for the next "X-Men" movie with its presumed focus on Jean Grey. This baddie has always had an obsession with the Summers and Grey families and with Jean awakening as a proper host for the Phoenix, this could very well be when Mister Sinister begins taking notice of her family line. With the likely return of Havok and a possible appearance of his and Cyclops' father, Corsair, the next movie could have a plethora of genetic material just begging to be analyzed by the Essex Corporation.
Introduced in "X-Men: Days of Future Past," Magneto's son Quicksilver, quickly made an impression on audiences with his dynamic personality and thoroughly entertaining high-speed action sequence while he and Xavier broke Magneto out of prison. Quicksilver was given an equally entertaining scene in "X-Men: Apocalypse" where he saved all of the students from the mansion explosion. With another movie in the pipeline, it would be criminal not to give him another sequence to showcase his incredible mutant power. Everyone's expecting it anyway.
Beyond his (what many hope will become) traditional speed sequence, Quicksilver also has a lot to contribute in regards to character development and growth. The character only really began to come into his own during the last third of "Apocalypse" and his relationship with his father has barely been explored. It would be a shame if their relationship never had a chance to evolve in future movies and not doing so would be an insult to both characters.
3 BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
Beast first appeared in "X-Men: The Last Stand" played by Kelsey Grammer and was fairly instrumental in one of that film's main storylines involving the mutant cure. When it comes to the new prequel movies though, Beast hasn't really had that much to do, despite being well-played by Nicholas Hoult and sharing some charming scenes with Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique in "X-Men: First Class."
The next "X-Men" movie could be where prequel-Beast really comes into his own with a storyline that's all about him. The character has always been involved in politics and science and these are both areas where the "X-Men" movies spend a lot of time. Beast could easily play a big role in analysing the Phoenix or even debating the ethics of cloning with Mister Sinister, should the occasion arise. Something else that's long overdue for the blue fuzz ball is a real onscreen romance. In the comics, Hank dated TV news reporter Trish Tilby for several years and, while that relationship is ended now, it would still be great to see it play out on the big screen.
2 IDENTITY POLITICS
The X-Men comic books and movies have always been about identity politics with mutants often playing as metaphors for minority groups. The concept was introduced well in the first "X-Men" movie but really came into its own in "X2: X-Men United" and "X-Men: The Last Stand" with the Cerebro and mutant cure storylines. Discrimination and prejudice also featured heavily in "First Class" and "Days of Future Past," but were only really touched upon briefly in "X-Men: Apocalypse."
The next "X-Men" movie needs to get back on track and bring back the politics that the mutant franchise is known for. Admittedly, this could be difficult to do if the next film goes into outer space with the Phoenix storyline, but even then the awakening of the Phoenix Force in a mutant could easily be the springboard for some fascinating discussions about the generalization of mutants as being dangerous individuals when many just want to live a normal life. Another possible approach to the Phoenix Force plot could be to use it as a springboard for a discussion around euthanasia. There's plenty of politics left in this superhero franchise.
1 CHARACTERS OVER PLOT
By far the biggest thing that needs to happen in the next movie is the return to a focus on the characters that viewers love so much. "X-Men: Apocalypse" had a few character moments, but overall sacrificed a lot of quieter bits for big action scenes and repetitive Apocalypse recruitment sequences. While a fair few characters have been killed-off in the prequel movies, there are still plenty of new and existing ones that deserve their moment in the sun.
It would be great to see Beast and Jubilee get some more action but let’s not forget about Nightcrawler and Cyclops, not to mention the future films that will inevitably introduce even more new mutants to compete for screen time. With so many characters, this could be hard to do but a possible solution could simply be to downgrade Professor X, Magneto and Mystique. Leave them on Earth while all of the others go and fend for themselves in space. The supporting characters have earned it.
What would you like to see in the next main entry in the X-Men franchise? Let us know in the comments!