Dark Phoenix trailer Sophie Turner

At this weekend’s WonderCon in Anaheim, California, the cast of X-Men: Dark Phoenix took the stage to promote what may be the last installment of the X-Men cinematic world as we’ve known it now that Disney has officially acquired 20th Century Fox. Despite it being the end of an era, first-time director Simon Kinberg (though long-time screenwriter, including X-Men: Apocalypse and Fantastic Four) promises Dark Phoenix will be something new, even though we’ve seen a version of the Dark Phoenix story in the 2006 film, X3: The Last Stand. “This is the first X-Men movie that goes out into outer space,” Kinberg said to the WonderCon crowd. “It’s the first X-Men that has an alien in it, that does a lot of things that we weren’t able to do with X3.

The audience got to see some of film firsthand during the panel, with Kinberg and producer Hutch Parker screening a 10-minute clip from the movie. Below is a brief recap of what was shown, so this is your spoiler warning if you want to go into Dark Phoenix completely fresh.

The X-Men Go to Space, and Jean Grey Soaks in Some Alien Mojo

During the first of two clips shown from the film, we see Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) leading a group of gung-ho X-Men into space to rescue the crew of a NASA space shuttle that had a run-in with a large, pulsing mass of energy. The clip showed off the talents of Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Quicksilver (Evan Peters) as they rescued the NASA crew. And of course, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) ends up absorbing all of that extraterrestrial energy and gets crackling eyes as a result. The scene ends with Raven back on Earth arguing with Professor Xavier; she doesn’t like risking mutant lives to save humans, an obvious foreshadow to when Raven will leave the X-Men and become Mystique.

Overall, the clip was enjoyable but not too earth-shattering, except for the fact the group left Earth during their rescue mission. The actors in the scene (minus, alas, Jennifer Lawrence and James McAvoy) joined Kinberg on stage after the first clip, and did the usual panel chat about what they did behind the scenes while making the film, including one (presumably) post-work activity called “tequila slaps”, which involve taking a shot of tequila and getting slapped across the face(!).

No tequila slaps took place during the panel, however, though Kinberg made an effort to mention that several of the scenes in the film were heavy on practical effects, including recreating several blocks of New York City’s 5th Avenue. The second clip showed to the audience included that very scene, in fact.

Again, here’s a spoiler warning.

Phoenix is Being Manipulated by Jessica Chastain

In the second and final clip, Magneto (Michael Fassbender) has joined forces with Beast and some other mutants to kill Phoenix (formerly known as Jean Grey) after she apparently killed someone close to him. Professor X, Cyclops, Storm and Nightcrawler want to protect Jean/Phoenix from Magneto, and the two sides fight each other on the streets of 5th Avenue. After a stilted f-bomb from Cyclops (he will fucking kill Magneto if Magneto kills Jean!), the mutants fight.

And the fighting is fun! Each mutant uses their powers in wonderful, destructive ways, especially Magneto, who pulls up a subway car from beneath the road and has it crash into the building after he enters it, looking for Phoenix. The scene of the subway car behind Fassbender is impressive (and also real—the effect was practical, with Fassbender showing off his stellar acting skills by not flinching), and we see Magneto confront Phoenix and a very blonde Jessica Chastain, who acts like the devil on Phoenix’s shoulder (I’m pretty sure Magneto can’t see her), telling her to kill Magneto.

Dark Phoenix Looks Fun! Or at Least Better Than X-Men: Apocalypse

As the panel ended, it’s clear that Fox wants Dark Phoenix compared more to Logan than its direct predecessor, X-Men: Apocalypse. Cyclops’ f-bomb aside, the footage shown certainly wasn’t as dark or gritty as Logan, but it also wasn’t bad. It was interesting enough, and fun, something not all previous X-Men films have accomplished.

During the panel, producer Hutch Parker acknowledges some of the missteps of previous movies:

“Candidly, in the early days, even back in X3, there was still a little bit of caution about how willing the audience would be to embrace what I would call a more authentic approach to the comic books. And it’s something I struggle with as an executive at Fox trying to get certain movies made, and I think in the last couple of years, for me, Logan and this film did something different, which is dig into these characters and issues in ways we hadn’t before. That’s something I love about the comics in general, is the degree in which they promise such incredible stories, and the underlying material is just so good, and frankly I think it’s better than we have been as storytellers in some cases. This is a film that aspires to tackle all of the potential of that while honoring the legacy and the characters.”

Audience members will be able to decide for themselves whether Dark Phoenix achieves this aim when it comes out on June 7.

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