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One of the problems with 2010’s X-Men: The Last Stand was it tried to tell the Jean Grey/Phoenix (Famke Janssen) story but made her a supporting character.
With 2018’s Dark Phoenix, writer/director Simon Kinberg is adamant that his film will place Jean (Sophie Turner) front and center but also focus on the females of the mutant franchise, including Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique and Jessica Chastain’s top-secret, otherworldly villain. “I really wanted to acknowledge the strength of the women in the comic and in the actresses that we have and the central storyline demands it,” explains Kinberg (At one point in Phoenix, Mystique actually jokes to Charles that the group should be renamed the “X-Women” due to how often the female characters save the male ones).
“It’s really exciting. I think there’s such a revolution in superhero movies,” says Turner. “I feel like this movie is a revelation because of it being like a drama but the hero is a female and she’s also the villain. It really is about her relationships with the females in the film, especially Jessica Chastain’s character. It’s really interesting to have those two characters be kind of the two biggest characters in the movie and both be female and so layered and so complex.”
The female-dominated script is what drew Chastain, who has been very vocal about female representation in film. “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,” admits the actress. “I was really pleased with this script because I think it’s a departure from the norm. This definitely passes the Bechdel test and I don’t know how many comic book films can say that.”