We're less than three months away from Dark Phoenix premiering in theaters, and today at the Anaheim Convention Center writer/director Simon Kinberg, producer Hutch Parker, and six members of the cast — Sophie Turner (Jean Grey), Tye Sheridan (Cyclops), Nicholas Hoult (Beast), Alexandra Shipp (Storm), Evan Peters (Quicksilver), and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Nightcrawler) — were on hand to roll out some 17 minutes of the movie.
**SPOILER WARNING! Light spoilers below, but if you want to go into Dark Phoenix fresh, avert thine eyes!**
We've actually seen bits of the footage in the trailers that are already available, but tonight we saw it all buttoned up into two key scenes from the movie. In the first, the X-Men assemble and fly the Blackbird into the cosmos to rescue the crew of a space shuttle damaged by the Phoenix Force. At first all goes well, but Jean accidentally gets left behind to absorb the Phoenix Force into her body, and we all know how that turns out.
In the second sequence, two teams of mutants — one led by Xavier and one by Magneto (Michael Fassbender) — assemble outside an apartment building on New York's Central Park, where Jean Grey is holed up inside with the enigmatic alien character played by Jessica Chastain. The two sides clash, wreaking havoc in Manhattan.
(Interestingly, this footage may have been completed in reshoots — some of the dialogue can be heard in the trailers but in different-looking footage entirely.)
Two things were apparent from the scenes we saw: The X-Men work almost seamlessly as a team now, often working in pairs to complement each other's powers, something we've only seen sporadically in the movies before. And second, that team spirit will be sorely put to the test by Jean Grey's transformation into the Dark Phoenix, with Kinberg calling the movie "emotional and intense and intimate."
We'll find out on June 7, but the 17 minutes screened today left a lot of fans at WonderCon, uh, X-static, judging by the hearty audience response to the footage.
As for the rest of the panel: Kinberg explained that writing the ending of 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past, in which the entire X-universe was reset, immediately gave him the inspiration to tell the Dark Phoenix story after it had been whiffed in X-Men: The Last Stand eight years earlier.
We also found out that Kinberg used practical effects as much as possible, even utilizing a massive subway car that came to a halt less than a foot from the head of Michael Fassbender on the day of filming.
Sophie Turner politely declined to answer when asked by moderator Grae Drake how Game of Thrones ends (as if), but she did say that she did "kind of the same preparation" to play both Jean and her more dangerous alter ego Dark Phoenix.
We also learned that Jessica Chastain was the biggest prankster on the set, at one point having McAvoy dance the Macarena while dangling from wires during one setup (hopefully that will turn up on a gag reel somewhere).
Dark Phoenix — likely the last X-Men movie to feature this cast and continuity — opens on June 7.