By Angie Han
The X-Men are part of the Disney family now, and never has that felt clearer than at the studio’s CinemaCon presentation Wednesday.
Disney touted both Dark Phoenix and New Mutants as part of its upcoming slate, alongside the usual Avengers and Star Wars and Pixar projects.
What exactly the X-Men’s future looks like at the Mouse House, though, remains unclear.
Deadpool clearly isn’t going anywhere. “You’ll be seeing more of Deadpool in the years ahead,” promised studio chairman Alan Horn, after sharing Ryan Reynolds’ cheeky tweet about Fox joining Disney.
And New Mutants, despite delayed release dates, reports of reshoots, and rumors of a straight-to-streaming distribution plan, does seem to be headed to cinemas — it was included on a slide of Disney’s 2019 theatrical releases.
But the core X-Men franchise led by James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and Sophie Turner is evidently coming to a conclusion. Dark Phoenix, out this summer, was described by 20th Century Fox’s Emma Watts as “the perfect sendoff” to the X-Men series.
At least we can hope it goes out on a high note. Though most of the Dark Phoenix trailers have not, to be perfectly frank, inspired much confidence, the CinemaCon footage looked appealingly dark.
The scene opens with the X-Men in space, on a mission to save some stranded astronauts, with Nightcrawler’s teleportation and Quicksilver’s super-speed coming in especially handy.
Things take a turn for the disastrous, however, when they run into a mysterious force and Jean finds herself absorbing an enormous amount of power. She screams.
Jean makes it back to earth, but she’s different now. “When I lose control, bad things happen,” she says, tearfully. “But it feels good.”
Jessica Chastain’s still-mysterious villain seems into it, though. “My power destroyed everything it ever came into contact with, until you,” she says. “They fear you, and what they fear…”
“They seek to destroy,” Jean says.
The others are less enamored of this new Jean. Xavier warns that “she’ll kill us all,” while Magneto confronts her directly.
“Are you threatening me?” Jean asks.
“That’s right,” Magneto says.
“That would be a bad idea,” she responds. And she means it. We see her pulling at him with her telekinesis like it’s nothing, while his face contorts in pain.
As teases for superhero movies go, this one’s solid. The explosions look expensive, the emotions seem acute, the characters (especially Chastain’s) seem intriguing. If Fox’s X-Men movies truly are done — and it sounds like they are — there are worse ways to go out than with a loud, bright bang.
And after that? We’re guessing these characters are too well loved to stay gone for long. Perhaps we’ll see them rising from the ashes once again, rebooted and reborn this time as Disney heroes.