2018 is set to be a promising year for #XMen fans, with a triple-dose of mutant goodness: Josh Boone’s New Mutants, the highly anticipated Deadpool 2, and Fox’s first foray into the cosmic in X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Over the weekend, we got some intriguing news about potential cast for the last of these films, teasing an intriguing direction for the movie — and hinting at some fantastic potential new characters!
That Hashtag Show managed to acquire character breakdowns for a whole range of heroes and villains set to appear in Dark Phoenix. As always, the identity of these characters is masked by a fake name, but let’s see if we can figure out who’s going to turn up, and what it means for the movie’s direction…
“Hiroshi. Male, early-mid 20s, Japanese, brash Tokyo punk kid with an attitude. Although Hiroshi is young, he can command the attention of a room and is always ready for a fight. Must be able to speak English fluently, but open to an accent (could be Japanese, British…)… LEAD. We are looking for an actor who is actually Japanese for this role.”
First up is a character who’s easy to identify, not least because there simply aren’t that many Japanese X-Men. This is undoubtedly Sunfire, a brash pyrokinetic who’s something of a national hero of Japan in the X-Men comics. Sunfire has fought against the X-Men as often as he’s teamed up with them; he was briefly a part of the team back during their famous Second Genesis relaunch in 1975, but didn’t last long. He’s simply too headstrong to take orders.
This is an intriguing addition to the cast, not least because Sunfire is identified as a "lead." As you’ll see, this is one of several announcements which add an unexpected international dimension to the plot of Dark Phoenix. In the comics, this arc may have embraced the idea of the Shi’ar, shown Dark Phoenix consuming an entire star, and ended on the Moon, but it was a surprisingly local story back on Earth, set mostly in New York. Dark Phoenix is clearly very different.
“Brittany. Female 18 to play younger (15-17) Caucasian. Very attractive, charismatic, and confident. Possibly a bit edgy with a fiery personality, Brittany is a born entertainer. Strong singing skills are a plus, but not mandatory. SUPPORTING.”
Given this character has "strong singing skills," this one's pretty obviously the mutant known as Dazzler. In the comics, Dazzler is a young pop star with the ability to convert sound to light, who was actually introduced in the Dark Phoenix Saga. She’s typically associated with the ‘80s, and almost made a fantastic (sort of) cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse, but it looks as though she’s finally going to make her movie debut. The pressure will be on for whoever gets cast in this role, as Dazzler is one of the most popular second-tier X-Men characters out there, and commands something of a cult following.
“Marie. Female 6 years old (to play 6 or younger). Caucasian. An old soul trapped in a little girl’s body. Marie is a strong, but conflicted child who does not like to share her feelings. There’s something a bit eerie and haunted about her. MUST be able to show a wide array of emotions with ease.”
Fox isn’t even trying to hide this one; we’ve heard rumors that Rogue would appear in Dark Phoenix for a while, and her real name is Marie. They’re clearly going with a younger version of Rogue (which is sure to irritate a lot of X-Men fans, who strongly associate the ‘90s setting with the beautiful powerhouse version of the Southern Belle). That said, we can assume Fox is hoping to build another career out of this, just as they did with Dafne Keen in Logan.
President Anderson And Allies
“President Anderson. Male or female. 50s-60s, open to all ethnicities. A powerful, strong and positive leader with a commanding presence and voice. An honest leader and good role model, they are truly committed to making the world a better place. When pushed, they know they must make difficult decisions to keep the people safe… SUPPORTING.”
One of the key roles suggesting an international aspect to Dark Phoenix, President Anderson's profile suggests that the US Government will be carefully monitoring events at Xavier’s School. I can’t help wondering if the movie will adapt ideas from Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run, with the world’s governments aware of aliens and trying to prevent a galactic war. If Earth’s governments already had contact with the Shi’ar, then they might be tempted to give the X-Men up in light of the aliens’ fear of the Phoenix. This suggestion would fit with a number of other roles mentioned, which seem to add a degree of international (and intergalactic) diplomacy into the mix.
“Hoover. Male, 20s-40s, open to all ethnicities. A man with a very strong presence, Hoover is an incredibly smart and ultra serious intelligence officer.”
Omega Underground obtained audition videos from actor Toby Huss, indicating this character is from an alien race and struggles to speak English. That’s leading most fans to believe this is the Shi’ar Imperial Guardsman known as Mentor.
A Mysterious Athlete
“Scarlet. Female, 20s, open to all ethnicities. Very beautiful and fit. She is powerful and never backs down from an argument. Role requires a good deal of action / movement. Actresses with major dance, parkour, gymnastics or martial arts training are a huge plus. Should not be afraid of heights and must be comfortable in a wire harness… SUPPORTING.”
This seems to be a member of the Imperial Guard, and there's speculation that she's either the psychic Oracle or the more potent physical warrior Mantis. Personally, I'm leaning towards the latter; Oracle's never been as physical a character as this description.
The Hellfire Club?
“Redmond. Male, 50s-early 60s, open to all ethnicities. An affluent, big, stocky ruddy American. Not necessarily fit, just physically imposing. Powerful, arrogant and blunt. Redmond is not used to being challenged and steamrolls anyone who opposes him… SUPPORTING.”
“Lucca. Male, 40s-50s. Brazilian. Ruthless and cunning, will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Must be able to speak English fluently, but can have an accent… SUPPORTING.”
“Jack. Male, late 40s-early 50s. British, open to all ethnicities. Handsome, charismatic and masculine, Jack is very self assured, almost cocky, but too cool to show it. Even in the most tense situations, he never shows fear… SUPPORTING.”
“Luna. Female, mid-late 20s, open to all ethnicities. Beautiful, could possibly have a severe look. Luna is intense and exudes a sense of power. Although she is a commanding presence, she is also slightly unhinged… SUPPORTING.”
Now these are interesting, and there's speculation that they may be members of the Hellfire Club — a group of villains who played a prominent role in the Dark Phoenix Saga. The Hellfire Club appeared in X-Men: First Class, and Fox and Marvel briefly tried to put together a Hellfire TV series exploring the darkness surrounding this secretive group. It would make sense for Fox to cancel that show if they began to develop further ideas for using the Hellfire Club in the movies.
The last two sound like Mastermind (a psychic manipulator) and yet another version of Emma Frost, who already appeared in both First Class and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Personally, I’m hoping it actually describes the mutant vampire Selene instead.
“Shane. Male, 16, actor must be an adult (18 or over or legally emancipated minor). Caucasian. A cocky, handsome kid with swagger. He is strong and doesn’t back down easily, so he can come off as an insensitive bully at times… LEAD.”
As you’ll see, it’s pretty clear that Fox is expanding their roster of young X-Men in Dark Phoenix — but, again, it’s surprising to see this role described as a ‘lead.’ That Hashtag Show have reported on rumors suggesting this role is Irish, leading many fans to bemusedly suggest Banshee; that said, he’s already cropped up in First Class! Fox may not mind, though, given they’ve never been too concerned about timelines. Plus, Banshee was indeed involved in the Dark Phoenix Saga in the comics, and there are rumors suggesting that Banshee's cousin, Black Tom Cassidy, will be the villain in Deadpool 2 — it's possible that Fox might be establishing a family connection across their movies.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the more recent Marvel mutants crop up among the students in Dark Phoenix, though; leaving aside the Irish rumors, this could easily be the telekinetic Hellion or the brawler Rockslide.
“Colin. Male, 16, actor must be an adult (18 or over or legally emancipated minor). Caucasian. Handsome, but not arrogant. Always willing to help a friend in need no matter what it costs him. Although he is sensitive, he is no a pushover and will stand up for what he believes… LEAD.”
Another strange one, again suggesting that younger mutants will play an important part in Dark Phoenix. If I’m right about some of Marvel’s newer mutants cropping up in Dark Phoenix, it’s possible this could be the mutant healer Elixir. Other than that, though, the description is too vague — especially when you consider Fox is adjusting ages a lot.
“William. Male, early 50s, Caucasian. A grounded, earnest middle-aged man. William carries a heaviness and a deep sense of sadness with him… SUPPORTING.”
“Dr. Clark. Female, 40s-60s, open to all ethnicities. Grounded and professional, she specialises in working with children. Dr. Clark has years of experience, and it takes a lot to disturb her… SUPPORTING.”
“Charlotte. Female, early-mid 30s, Caucasian. A caring, warm mother. Charlotte can be stern at times, but she just wants what is best for her child… SUPPORTING.”
“Hamilton. Male, 12 years old, open to all ethnicities. Chubby, sweet, innocent and genuine. Although he frequently gets picked on, he never lets it get to him… SUPPORTING.”
There’s too little to guess anything with these roles; they may just be civilians, who get caught up in the action. That said, it’s also possible they will be members of the extended Grey family; in one comic book arc, End of Greys, the Shi’ar assassinated everyone related to Jean Grey in an attempt to ensure the Phoenix line died out.
As you can see, these casting descriptions leave us with more questions than answers. It’s clear that Dark Phoenix isn’t going to be a panel-by-panel recreation of the classic story; we seem to have ideas lifted from other Phoenix-related plots too. In my view, Fox will need to be very careful not to overstuff this film with too many characters. That was one of main mistakes made by the studio when they last attempted the Dark Phoenix Saga back in X-Men: The Last Stand — and few want to see that repeated!