There is no doubt that the most awe-inducing moment of 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse was Jean Grey releasing the Phoenix Force. At the eleventh hour of the First Class trilogy, fans got to see Phoenix done right, however briefly.
With speculation that the recently discovered project X-Men: Supernova is going to be the next step in Jean Grey's evolution as the Phoenix, we could finally get a retelling of the famous #XMen story-arc that is worthy of the source material.
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Ever since X-Men: The Last Stand (X3) botched the Phoenix story in 2006, fans have obsessed over how the most powerful mutant we have ever seen was overshadowed by laziness, aimless wandering, lack of motivation and unfaithfulness to the original story.
For 10 years, we dreamed of what could have been such an amazing film. Then, Apocalypse started to bring those dreams to fruition. If X-Men: Supernova is the next step in a theatrical version of the Phoenix Saga, here are four things we'd suggest:
1. Don't Go Right To Dark Phoenix
Unfortunately, X3 rushed right into The Dark Phoenix Saga, a story which sees Jean giving in to her overwhelming new power, eventually leading her to death. In the comics, Jean embodied the power of the Phoenix for awhile before things turned ugly.
This was part of what made seeing the Phoenix in Apocalypse such a delight — director Bryan Singer didn't skip right to the Dark Phoenix part. Sophie Turner discussed this in an interview with USA Today:
"It’s kind of set up for it in ('Apocalypse') — you see hints of Phoenix. And it’s really exciting that we’re kind of exploring this good Phoenix at the moment and we’re not doing 'The Dark Phoenix.' There are so many ways we can go with the character, and with these super-strong powers that she has, they should make a 'Dark Phoenix' saga. (But) let’s hope I’ll be a good superhero for a while."
If X-Men: Supernova turns out to be the first in a new trilogy, then there is plenty of time to space out this gripping tale without cramming it into a B-level subplot à la Brett Ratner.
2. Use The Phoenix Force From The Comics
In X3, the explanation for Jean's new power is that Jean had a split personality as a result of Professor X creating physic barriers in her mind to control her immense power. This completely disregarded the Phoenix as it is in the comic books — a cosmic entity that bound itself to Jean and gifted her with its powers.
If a new film focuses on the Phoenix and picks up where Apocalypse left off, it seems unlikely that the story will stay true to the comics in this way. In Apocalypse, Jean is clearly manifesting the power of the Phoenix from within; there is no external entity our source, so far as we know. That being said, we all welcome a little retcon (within reason) to stay true to the source material. Speaking of which...
3. Explore The Universe
There is no way around the fact that the story of Jean Grey and the Phoenix is an intergalactic one with a large cast of humans, mutants and aliens. Keeping the X-Men real and believable does not mean it is impossible to explore outer space and alien races.
Singer went on record discussing with Fandango the possibility of the X-Men in space, saying:
"Also I imagine — and this is the first time I’ve actually answered the question this way – but another thing that’s been introduced in the comics is a big alien, interstellar tenant within the X-Men universe that hasn’t been explored. And to me, that might be kind of fun because I’m a huge Star Wars and Star Trek fan, and exploring the X-Men universe and being able to utilize that would be exciting, visually."
Taking the X-Men into orbit would certainly need to be handled with finesse, but introducing the Shi'ar Empire has the potential to be done without being a jarring experience for viewers. The Phoenix story is inherently out of this world, and the last attempt to keep it Earth-bound resulted in failure. But Guardians of the Galaxy proved that audiences are open to weird deep space adventures.
There is hope that the creative team will explore the larger universe that fans know the X-Men to be a part of.
The end of Apocalypse and the unknown X-Men: Supernova project all seem to point towards a Phoenix film. Will we see Scott, Jean, Storm and the new class of X-Men in space? Will Professor X meet his soulmate, Lilandra of the Shi'ar Empire? Will it be the true Phoenix Saga or will it jump right to the darker side of the story?
Only time will tell. Rest assured that, in the meantime, fans who believe in the possibility of a properly executed Phoenix Saga are champing at the bit and ready to provide the fanbase necessary for cinematic success.
What would you like to see in a X-Men movie focusing on the Phoenix Saga? Share your thoughts in the comments below.