Next year's X-Men: Dark Phoenix film has announced the casting of 8-year-old Summer Fontana (Basic Witches, The Originals) as young Jean Grey. While this is certainly exciting for the young actress, it is also a great news for X-Men fans. The introduction of young Jean Grey could mean that the Phoenix Force will get a proper introduction for the first time in the franchise.
In the X-Men comics, one of the most pivotal moments in Jean's life occurred during her childhood. When her best friend, Annie, was struck by a car in a hit-and-run while the two played, Jean's mutant powers emerged for the first time. As Annie lay dying, Jean involuntarily created a physic link with her in an attempt to keep her alive. This also brought Jean to the brink of death.
Across the cosmos, the Phoenix Force felt Jean's mind transcend the physical realm, and saw the young mutant about to die. The Phoenix intervened, severing the link and saving Jean while Annie died. Feeling a kinship to young Jean, the Phoenix kept watch over her and, years later, would save her from death again by transforming her into Phoenix.
In the films, after Jean died saving the #XMen towards the end of X2: X-Men United, we were teased with the form of the Phoenix soaring under the water of Alkali Lake. The sequel, X-Men: The Last Stand, then kicks off with a scene featuring a very powerful young Jean. In that moment, many fans thought we would see the Phoenix Force officially introduced and woven into the narrative. This, however, was not the case.
The idea of the Phoenix as a cosmic entity was thrown to the wayside by the X3 writers, including current #DarkPhoenix director and screenplay writer, Simon Kinberg. Instead, they opted for a less out-of-this-world explanation for Jean's descent into madness: split personality disorder. To put it mildly, fans felt slighted.
With young Jean once again slated to appear so soon after we saw the Phoenix's signature form emerge at the end of X-Men: Apocalypse, we find ourselves in the same situation we were in after X2. Will the Phoenix Force actually be a cosmic force or will the explanation for Jean's evolution again take another form? If Lilandra's inclusion in the film is any indicator, we are in for a story that is out of this world, perhaps Phoenix Force and all.
Hopes are high that, this time around, Kinberg will respect the source material, starting with Jean meeting the Phoenix during childhood. X-Men: Dark Phoenix will be released in theaters November 2, 2018.
What do you think will happen with young Jean Grey in Dark Phoenix?