dark phoenix trailer breakdown

20th Century Fox finally dropped the first trailer for Dark Phoenix after a long road marked by delays and lengthy reshoots. The X-Men sequel, which adapts Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s famous Dark Phoenix Saga, centers around the powerful mutant Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), whose latent psychic powers are accidentally unlocked, turning her into a dangerous and destructive force.

The first trailer gives us glimpses of the fiery swath that Jean Grey cuts through the world, harming both the X-Men who love her and Magneto’s band of misfits. But there’s still a lot of mystery left to the trailer, namely the mysterious funeral at the center of the teaser. In the Dark Phoenix trailer breakdown we’ll try to decipher what exactly is happening, and who has died. Let’s dive in.

The trailer starts off with Jean Grey being dropped off at the X-Mansion as a child — a departure from her origin in the comics in which a 10-year-old Jean Grey had to be brought out of a coma by Charles Xavier, induced by herself after she had mentally linked with her dying best friend.

“You think you can fix me?” Jean asks someone in the trailer.

And that someone turns out to be Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), still sporting a healthy head of hair, meaning that Jean’s enrollment at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters takes place sometime in the ’70s if we’re going by the X-Men movies (very confusing) timeline. At Jean’s request, Charles assures Jean that “you are not broken.”

In the ’80s, a teenage Jean Grey is wheeled into a medical bay with wires and suction cups attached to her head. Beast/Hank McCoy (again, looking un-Beast like because pretty Nicholas Hoult has to get some facetime) looks shocked at some of the readings that Jean is giving off. It should be noted that Jean seems she’s wearing some sort of undershirt for a spacesuit, which we’ll get to later.

“The mind is a fragile thing. Takes only the slightest tap to tip it in the wrong direction,” a British man narrates as we flash back to Jean Grey in the car with her parents. Since the voice is a little too deep for McAvoy, I’m going to venture a guess that this is Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender) speaking or another unknown character.

And a tap is all it takes for Jean Grey to accidentally kill her parents in a car accident. It’s a build-up we all know: the radio fizzing, Jean’s breath trembling as her powers first manifest, and then a tiny tap of Jean’s feet that sends their car colliding into another.

Car crash? Check. Oh yeah, this is a superhero origin story.

But Jean’s powers are strong enough to save her from the accident, stopping the shattered glass in its tracks before it’s able to hit her. This whole scene is another departure from Jean Grey’s origins, showing her responsible for her parents’ death rather than a bystander to a best friend’s death. And rather than it becoming necessary for Charles to block off all her powers except for telepathy in order to bring her out of a coma, it seems that Charles does it to rid Jean of the pain of knowing that she killed her parents.

“Charles what did you do?” Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) asks Charles upon learning this action that he took with Jean. “I had to keep her stable. I protected her,” he responds. But she scolds him for hiding her parents’ death from her, asking, “From the truth? There’s another word for that.”

A teenage Jean Grey is left seeking answers at a commune where Magneto is living. After attempting to aiding in the attempted destruction of the world in X-Men: Apocalypse at the behest of En Sabah Nur, Magneto seems to have sought out a peaceful life, which will soon be interrupted by Jean’s arrival.

“You didn’t come here looking for answers. You came here looking for permission,” Magneto realizes in the trailer. Is Jean asking for Magneto’s help in a fight against Charles and the X-Men? More importantly: is Magneto an amateur cyclist?

At a church Jessica Chastain’s mysterious villain, an extraterrestrial shapeshifter, approaches Jean in a church with the intent of turning Jean into a weapon for her own use. “They can’t begin to comprehend what you are,” she tells Jean, who looks at her in disbelief and with eyes brimming with tears (this happens a lot in the trailer). There’s probably some significance to their first meeting being in a church — the phoenix is a symbol of rebirth, rising from the ashes, after all.

[Charges into the room]. Sorry, I thought this was the set for the Ready Player One sequel.

[Turns around] Sorry, I thought this was the set for American Horror Story.

Hank McCoy ventures alone on to a hilltop, and we see him looking particularly tortured in this one shot. For what reason? We’ll find out soon.

This is our first glimpse of the titular Dark Phoenix, who in the comics is what Jean becomes when she is hit by the deadly radiation of a solar flare, which unleashes her ultimate potential as a telepath and telekinetic. But in film it becomes a case of possession — which admittedly, the Marvel Comics sometimes retcon the characters into two separate beings — in which Jean is taken over by a cosmic being after being hit by a mysterious force during a space mission.

Wearing the same outfit with which she met Magneto at the commune, Jean is confronted by the X-Men — either before or after she finds Magneto. I’m going to hazard a guess and say it’s after, with Jean having gained that “permission” that Magneto predicted she was looking for.

More explosions! Except Jean seems in control of her powers, flipping two cop cars that have come after her — suggesting that the she and the Phoenix are fighting for dominion of her body.

The X-Men aren’t the only ones trying to get Jean under control. The U.S. government or another militant authority seems to have sent troops after Jean, which of course prove useless in the face of her powers.

Jean easily controls a helicopter, crashing it into the ground.

And as we see in her yellow eyes, she’s fully Phoenix now — calm and no longer crying. This seems to be taking place at the commune where Magneto lives, judging by the humble, outdoorsy living quarters. From what I can see of the order of events: Jean gets possessed by Phoenix, seeks out Magneto, gets attacked by military squadrons, and flees to an anonymous suburban block where the X-Men find her.

“She’s all rage, and pain, and it’s all coming out at once,” Magneto says while we cut to that shot of Jean crying in an alleyway — supposedly just after her powers were unleashed by Phoenix. Again, this movie loves that rebirth symbolism: the Phoenix is born anew in the rain.

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