WonderCon LIVE: Dark Phoenix Takes Flight

Dark Phoenix poster

We may not know what the future will bring for the X-Men film franchises, but Wondercon 2019 offered more hints about Simon Kinberg’s latest take on the popular Dark Phoenix arc from the comics. Featuring special footage and members of the cast and crew, the Dark Phoenix panel may answer some of our burning questions about this film, which releases this summer.

The first question posed by moderator Grae Drake was to director Simon Kinberg about the end of Dark Phoenix to which he joked, "Everybody dies. They all turn to dust." Kinberg went on to talk about how Dark Phoenix was "my favorite storyline.. if there was ever an X-men movie, that's the one I want to see.. we tried to give you all of the elements that we loved from the comic... and do it in a way that was emotional, intense and intimate and cosmic. It's the first X-men movie that goes into space and that has an alien in it."

Producer Hutch Paker who has worked on X-Men movies from the beginning said that "the first one paved the way for all the X-Men movies to follow... it suggested for the first time that you could tackle special effects and comic ideas -- everything since then has grown from that moment." "

Logan and this film can dig into these issues and characters in ways we haven't been able to before... frankly, I think it's better than we've been as storytellers. This movie tries to tackle all the potential of that while honoring the legacy."

About this film being his directorial debut, Simon Kinberg said he's learned from all the previous X-Men directors he's worked with in the past and described how he "annoyed Hans Zimmer enough" to get him to score another superhero movie even when he said he wouldn't do it again.

Kinberg then introduced "a big chunk of the movie" for the panelists to watch. He said, "the first clip is early on the movie, and it shows you that we leave the planet Earth in this film."

The cast then were introduced and were asked if Professor X could see in their heads, what funny story would he see and answer for other people. Kinberg began that when they were making this film that "you'd be surprised the biggest practical joker is Jessica Chastain... she's a menace! Don't allow her around your children... one of the practical jokes she played was on Mr. McAvoy. The joke is there's a scene in the movie where he's on a wire and the wires are being held by people from the stunt team and one the last take Jessica got the guys to start playing the song 'Macarena and dance James' body to it like a puppet on the wires."

As far as other pranks and games went, there was also the game tequila slaps which Alexandra Shipp described it as "you take a shot and then slap them in the face," which was played a lot on the different films.

"The preparation to play Jean and the preparation to play Phoenix was kind of the same preparation. They're kind of fused together ... it's these two separate entities fighting each other in one person's body. We wanted to study schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder and ground it in something quite real that resonates with people," said Sophie Turner.

Tye Sheridan, who plays Cyclops, said: "it's fun because these movies jump from decade to decade, and you get to explore what these characters are doing in different points in their lives."

"I eat quite slowly and I eat a lot of blue hair," said Nicholas Hoult about how he eats in his full Beast hair and makeup.

About Storm, Alexandra Shipp said, "it was really fun to be able to do the stunts and do more hand to hand combat. You get to see Storm exude more power and it's really fun."

Kodi Smit. McPhee who plays Nightcrawler talked about how his usefulness on the team is essentially hugging people, and what Kurt is going through. "Jumping the decades you see a form of maturity in him that's different than how I portrayed in Apocalypse that was more innocent and vulnerable... in this one, he starts there, and I had an opportunity to portray that more savage vicious archetype in him a culmination in his frustration from building up in not knowing how to fix the internal struggles of the team."

For a personal slo-moo sequence, Evan Peters, who plays Quiksilver, picked the song at the end of Mortal Kombat and proceeded to hum it.

Kinberg said it was important to do things more practically in addition to CG and effects because when there's something real to interact with, it's easier for the actors. "They're a part of my brain where it feels real to me," he said. They built a city lot of suburban houses instead of utilizing effects, for example.

Sophie Turner described the process of getting her hair to look like that, and "they decided the best way to do it is to put a bald cap on and tracking parts for CGI. I've got this bald cap on and a huge purple collar and I look like Megamind." See-sawed up into the air while looking like that was "painfully humiliating, but it looks really cool."

She joked about how "you see Tye and you're walking into a spot and he'll walk into your mark," because the visor Tye wears as Cyclops makes it difficult for him to see.

Hoult described his quad running as "so I'm kind of crawling and popping up into frame and there are some very embarrassing cuts of that."

The train that comes crashing through the wall in the clip was real, according to Simon Kinberg. "On the day, for whatever reason, [the train] stopped about half a foot behind [Michael Fassbender]" and only Fassbender could be that actor who wouldn't even flinch.

Sophie controls a helicopter that was also a practical effect, and she said, "It was a lot of fun. It was spinning around.. all the cast and crew were there and it was terrifying and amazing to see... and no one was hurt in the making of this film!"

Written and directed by Simon Kinberg, Dark Phoenix stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters and Jessica Chastain. The film is scheduled to be released on Jun. 7.


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