On June 7, “Dark Phoenix” blazes into theatres. Fans have been waiting three long years for this final installment of Fox’s “X-Men” saga, but after two pushed-back release dates and numerous superhero movies, may can’t help but ask: Which one is this again?
“Dark Phoenix” follows the events of “X-Men Apocalypse” and shares the same star-studded cast. Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender all return in their respective roles as Mystique, Professor X and Magneto. But this film will focus on Jean Grey, portrayed by “Game of Thrones” star Sophie Turner, as she struggles with her abilities, and the X-Men team must choose between saving her or saving the world. But, who are these people again, and what part do they have to play in this new movie addition?
Let’s start with the older heroes. Mystique, or Raven, is a shapeshifter who grew up with Charles Xavier, but doesn’t share his optimism and faith in the rest of non-mutant humanity, creating tensions between the two. She fluctuates from being proud of her natural blue form and hiding under the guise of a blonde woman.
At the end of “X-Men: Apocalypse,” she had again embraced her natural form, clearly showing she’s a mutant, and embraced the idea that she could be, and truly is, a hero for her actions in the previous movies. With her newfound heroism, she agrees to stay and train the X-Men, now a team of younger mutants, with Hank McCoy, aka Beast. Hank, portrayed by Nicholas Holt, has feelings for Raven, but they aren’t often addressed. Hank can also take on a blue furrier form that provides him extra strength and agility, but he found a chemical way to suppress it. He has always stayed by Xavier’s side.
Charles Xavier, aka Professor X, is the founder of the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, or mutants, where the X-Men team and many other students attend his classes. Xavier is a telepath and wheelchair-bound after getting shot in the spine during “X-Men: First Class.” He was also left bald after the events of “X-Men: Apocalypse” occurred, when Apocalypse tried to transfer his consciousness into Xavier’s body to take his life and his abilities to control every mind in the world. He is a positive-minded character that believes that one day people and mutants will live side by side in harmony.
Magneto, aka Erik Lehnsherr, doesn’t share his beliefs. In fact, it is what drives the two friends apart in past movies. Magneto is a Holocaust survivor whose powers over metal appeared when he was taken from his mother. Rage was where his power came from for a long time, and while he’s seen a better way, he knows how horrifically humans discriminate. Magneto became one of Apocalypse’s four horsemen after the loss of his wife and daughter. In the end of the film though, he realizes his mistake and helps the new X-Men team defeat Apocalypse.
The younger mutants, the new X-Men team, came together during Apocalypse from different places across the world. Jean Grey was a student at the Xavier Institute and was learning how to control her abilities of telekinesis and telepathy. She felt and saw Apocalypse when he awoke, and it was ultimately her power, the phoenix within her, that defeated him.
At Xavier’s urging to let go, audience members get a taste of what’s to come in “Dark Phoenix” when she steps out into the battle and erupts in a fiery phoenix, effectively blowing away Apocalypse’s armor and allowing Magneto to strike him, leaving an opening to hit his flesh underneath.
Apocalypse’s final words after being struck down were “All is revealed,” which has many implications for this upcoming movie, a film that will focus on Jean Grey and the true extent of her power as it grows and darkens in her. But Jean is not the only new mutant audiences met in “X-Men: Apocalypse.”
Scott Summers, portrayed by Tye Sheridan, is brought to the Institute by his older brother Alex, aka Havok from previous movies. Scott’s mutation means he can shoot two red beams from his eyes, but he can’t control it. Thankfully, Hank develops special glasses from him to wear to contain his blasts.
Scott soon loses his brother in an explosion that destroys the school. Jean comforts him, telling him that Alex always thought that Scott would be the one to change the world. It could be the start to their relationship. Scott, Jean and Nightcrawler follow the helicopter that took Mystique, Beast, CIA agent Moria McTaggart and Quicksilver, and together the three free them from the base, as well as release Wolverine, who runs off into the woods without a word.
Storm, aka Ororo Munroe, was saved by Apocalypse after being chased by merchants she robbed with some other children. She offers him food and shelter in thanks and tells him that Mystique is her hero; in return for her assistance, Apocalypse increases her power over the weather, turning her hair into the traditional white. He calls her his goddess, but after seeing Mystique battling against him, Storm has a change of heart and joins the X-Men in battle, keeping Apocalypse from escaping.
Storm, portrayed by Alexandra Shipp, will return with the other X-Men in “Dark Phoenix,” along with Nightcrawler, portrayed by Kodi Smit-McPhee. The other two horsemen are not supposed to be in the next film as it is assumed Angel, portrayed by Ben Hardy, died of his injuries and Psylocke is in the wind. This was confirmed by Olivia Munn, who portrayed Psylocke.
Nightcrawler, aka Kurt Wanger, is a German teleporter and acrobat whom Mystique saved from a mutant fighting ring, where he reluctantly battled Angel, destroying his wing during the forced fight. His mutation is the most visible with his three fingers, his tail, fangs and his blue coloring. His look is demonic, but he is a devout Catholic who grew up in the circus before they sold him to the fighting ring. The markings on his face are self-inflicted scars.
His powers are important to the plot, as his teleportation saved Xavier from Apocalypse and the rest of the team from a crashing plane. Saving his team, however, knocked him unconscious, so he did not witness the blast of phoenix power. His parentage may be revealed during “Dark Phoenix,” like Quicksilver’s was in the previous film.
Fan-favorite Quicksilver also returns in “Dark Phoenix.” In the last film, Peter Maximoff, portrayed by Evan Peters, goes to the Institute looking for Magneto. He arrives just in time to save everyone, except Alex Summers, from the explosion. While captured with the others, he reveals to Mystique that Magneto is his father and that he came looking for him. But during the battle with Apocalypse, when Mystique tries to convince Erik that he has more family than he knows, Quicksilver doesn’t tell him.
Later Quicksilver gets some hits in on Apocalypse only to get his leg broken. By the time the new X-Men team starts training through he is all healed up. It is expected that Peter will tell Magneto the truth or that the secret will come out somehow in “Dark Phoenix.”
“Dark Phoenix” will put this new X-Men team and old friendships to the test, when the phoenix power within Jean becomes more powerful and eventually corrupts her. They will have to choose to save a teammate, one of their own, or the world. That is, if they can stop her.