In Dark Phoenix, the latest film in Fox’s X-Men franchise, Jessica Chastain’s mysterious villain may have a deeper connection to Professor Charles Xavier than we realized. While Chastain has long been speculated to play anything from a gender-bent Mister Sinister to Shi’ar Empress Lilandra to the Skrull queen Veranke, her role likely hits a little closer to home. In fact, we believe she may be Xavier’s dark shadow: his “twin” Cassandra Nova.
In the comics, Nova has a rather complicated history. The character debuted in Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s New X-Men #144 as a “mummudrai,” or a parasitic life form that exists on the astral plane. In an effort to create a body of her own, she copied Xavier’s DNA while he was still in the womb; this made her biologically his twin. Xavier killed her before they were born, resulting in a stillbirth, but Nova’s astral form persevered. She eventually rebuilt herself a body using the telepathic abilities she copied from Xavier and became hellbent on destroying everything he held dear, believing she existed in a universe where only she and Xavier were real and everything else was an illusion.
Of course, if Dark Phoenix were to adapt Nova to film, her origin probably wouldn’t be quite so convoluted. She would likely be a true sibling rather than a mummudrai host. As such, it’s worth pointing out that Chastain is close in age to Xavier actor James McAvoy. At 41, Chastain has a mere two years on McAvoy, who is 39. Now, Hollywood has never had any trouble fudging its actors’ ages for a film and this latest X-Men trilogy has been particularly giving in this area, as Xavier should be close to or in his 60s by the time of Dark Phoenix. Nevertheless, it’s interesting that Fox enlisted an actor close in age to McAvoy for this role.
Thanks to some set photos and the first official trailer, we also know the film is drawing at least some influence from Morrison and Quitely’s New X-Men run. In fact, the X-Men’s new costumes look as if they were pulled straight off the run’s very first cover. As sharp as those costumes look, they could indicate more than an aesthetic choice; they could also hint at the direction of the film. If Dark Phoenix borrows more than the costumes from New X-Men, Nova would be a viable choice of villain.
Further, that would explain the look of Chastain’s character. The character’s hair is so white it’s nearly translucent; indeed, it hardly looks as though she has eyebrows at all. Her appearance isn’t quite the bald-headed look Nova rocks in the comics, but it’s certainly the closest thing to it without shaving Chastain’s head or putting her in a bald cap. Since the identity of Chastain’s character is supposed to stay secret, at least for now, it’s no surprise she doesn’t look exactly like Nova, because that would be a dead giveaway.
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