After a strong refresh with “X-Men: First Class” and an excellent follow-up with the well received and successful “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” the franchise stumbled with “X-Men: Apocalypse” which drew some of the weakest reviews of the film series to date.
The hope is that Simon Kinberg’s “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” will turn the ship around and course correct for the shortcomings of ‘Apocalypse’. In a new interview with EW, Kinberg has elaborated on what those shortcomings were:
“I think we took our eye off what has always been the bedrock of the franchise which is these characters. It became about global destruction and visual effects over emotion and character… One of the things I went into this film wanting to do is obviously focus on the characters and give them real emotions to play and come up with a theme that would make it feel relevant and necessary in today’s world.”
Producer Hutch Parker says the script for the film was changing throughout production and came at a time when the genre was evolving thanks to the likes of “Deadpool” and “Logan”:
“It’s always dangerous if your script is evolving while you’re shooting. Certainly, in hindsight, we all feel like the genre has been evolving aesthetically and tonally and that the film didn’t. There’s a lot that I think is very good in the film but, as a whole, it was struggling to find ways to coalesce, narratively emotionally and in terms of plot. Aesthetically, it felt sort of dated relative to an evolution you were seeing play out everywhere else. We learned a lot from that.”
As a result, one major change with the new film will be a much more grounded feel with a lot of handheld shooting. Parker says:
“It is so gritty and there are so many fantastical things in this movie and we really wanted it to resonate with every member of the audience who watches it so we had to make to so real as well. You still get that sense of escapism when people start flying but there’s so much reality in it. I think it will really affect people. And the way Simon shot it — the majority of this movie is handheld, like Steadicam.”
The article also talks about the shapeshifting alien villain played by Jessica Chastain. While the character’s name hasn’t been revealed, Kinberg has spoken about her motivations saying her character is “way way smarter than we are” and can use Jean Grey’s powers to turn this world against itself. Chastain says:
“I was really excited for him to have his directorial debut and also it was the script. I’ve always wanted to do a big comic book franchise-y film but I had some issues with the female characters in the films I was being offered. I was really pleased with this script because I think it’s a departure from the norm.
Simon and I first sat down in Montreal and we were talking about the character and I said ‘I don’t know if this is right but I keep thinking of the vet who tells you you need to put your dog down. There’s something very clinical about it.’ He loved it and we kind of expanded the character from there.”
“X-Men: Dark Phoenix” is currently slated for a November 2018 release.