Late last night, we were treated to a trailer for the latest Fox X-Men franchise film Dark Phoenix. In it, we see Jessica Chastain with Sophie Turner in a church setting, telling her that she doesn’t belong. There are other shots of Chastain with Turner’s Jean Grey, but there isn’t a lot of pictures of her with other characters.
I’ll just come out and say it. I think she’s a manifestation of the Phoenix Force. At least one that only Jean can see. And she’s coaxing Jean Grey to give in to her darker desires. But let’s look at the evidence of why I believe Chastain’s character is actually a manifestation of the Phoenix Force.
Director Simon Kinberg Reveals Who She Isn’t
In an interview with IGN about the film, Simon Kinberg the director of X-Men: Dark Phoenix shot down a fan theory that Chastain would be a gender-swapped version of the villain Mastermind.
In the comics, Mastermind was a member of the Hellfire Club, and was initially responsible for Jean Grey’s descent into darkness, seducing her, and the Phoenix force within her, to indulge in the baser desires of human nature. Power, lust, hatred, greed, etc. were elements the Phoenix Force embraced under Mastermind’s influence to the point that she left the X-Men and took on the role of the Hellfire Club’s new Queen.
Kinberg confirmed Chastain was not Mastermind stating, “I will say that Jessica’s character is not Mastermind but there are elements of the way Mastermind manipulates Jean that Jessica’s character does employ.” He would also note, “For me, as you’ll see, that Jessica’s character has elements of a few different characters from the comics.”
Kinberg Confirms She’s From Space and is an Alien
Kinberg would go on to discuss Chastain’s character stating she’s not from Earth:
“She is from, let’s say, not our planet, her character. I’ll keep it relatively mysterious but it is a cosmic story in a way that is extraterrestrial, which is something we’ve never done in the X-Men movies before but is obviously something that is integral to the Dark Phoenix story so I felt we couldn’t’ do what we did on X3 and ignore that. We had to actually embrace it. So there’s a fair amount that takes place in space, and the inciting incident that starts to turn Jean, let’s say, dark and fill her with this power that she can’t control happens in space. And then there are forces from space that come to Earth because of that.”
IGN reports that earlier reports indicating that Chastain’s character was named Smith are no longer true. However, he did confirm that Chastain is an alien. IGN notes they pressed him on whether the Shi’ar might show up in the film, but Kinberg decided to “plead the fifth.”
Interestingly enough, Kinberg did reveal that he hopes to further explore the cosmic lore of the X-Men in future films:
“I always look to the comics obviously as the touchstones for the movies, and as you know and all fans know there is a lot of cosmic, extraterrestrial stories in the X-Men lore. It’s not something that we’ve explored in the past. It’s something we certainly begin to explore in this movie and if it’s appropriate to whatever the next movies would be then I would absolutely do that. It’s something I think audiences have almost grown accustomed to now given that the Marvel [MCU] movies are so often now intergalactic.”
Chastain’s Relationship with Jean Grey
Chastain’s character appears to be deeply connected to Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey. We’ve seen the photos of her amidst destruction, and photos of her with Turner’s Jean Grey.
Turner described Jean Grey’s relationship to Chastain’s character:
“It’s an interesting one and I don’t want to spill too much about it but basically Jessica’s character is very interested in this power that I’ve kind of acquired and this cosmic force that I have and she kind of wants that force to use it for her own — she has her own intentions with it and she kind of wants to use that. And she nurtures me in a way to make me kind of trust her.”
We haven’t really seen her with anyone else aside from a single photo where she appears next to James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier.
As you can see, Xavier is out of his wheel chair, and he appears to have been thrown to the ground and possibly slid up to the gate, or crawled to it out of fear. You can see how his hands are even placed behind him as he looks at Chastain’s character in fear. This might give people some pause and think that she’s playing the Shi’ar Empress Lilandra. Or she’s playing a Skrull, as some are speculating based off an EW article earlier last year.
One thing is definitely clear is that Xavier can see Chastain’s character and given Xavier’s powers, it’s possible he can see her or she manifested so he could see her. I also want to point out that if you notice from the trailer Chastain and Grey are seen in a church and this photo definitely appears like it could be from inside that same Church. It would mean Jean is present in the building.
Chastain is The Phoenix
I believe that Chastain is The Phoenix Force itself. A manifestation of the being who can only be seen by Jean, and maybe Professor Xavier when he looks inside her mind. Or at least some part of her hidden away in the darkest part of her heart.
Kinberg talks about different elements of characters in the comics being explored in Chastain’s character. So we get a hint of Mastermind, Lilandra, Skrull, and even Shadow King from her. If you are unfamiliar with the Shadow King he’s able to psychically control people around him and feed on the shadows in their souls. Chastain’s character definitely appears to have that going for her.
As to her changing shape, I think it’s a ruse to throw the scent off about her character. The Phoenix according to legend had the ability to shapeshift from its primary fire form to a more human guise. For us to see a Skrull when another movie, Captain Marvel, is already using Skrulls would confuse audiences when the two Marvel films want (at least for now) to stay as far away from each other with their IPs.
Plus, we already have a shapeshifter on the X-Men team in the form of Mystique. So having Chastain as an extra-terrestrial shapeshifter wouldn’t be impressive or original to the theme of the X-Verse at all.
The Extra-Terrestrial Using Jean
Why would Chastain want Jean? Because Jean is the only host who can fully utilize her powers. I have no doubt there will be some cosmic players entering into the fray when the movie goes into full swing, but for most of the trailer, Jean Grey is wreaking havoc on Earth’s soil. Perhaps the Phoenix has a mission of her own and needs Jean to go all out in order to complete it, but she becomes more interested in the darker aspects of Jean’s nature and wishes for those to come out more to fully realize her potential.
Plus if the Phoenix needs to bring death to something or someone, it wouldn’t need the goody two-shoes Jean Grey to get that accomplished. It would need to merge with her darker side. A side of her that X-Men: The Last Stand explored as a departure from the comics.
I’m just sad/mad they’re using that element of the film in this one. It’s like they’re almost afraid to use any more of the source material for the film.
Wild Speculations Abound
Of course, as with any theory about a movie we’ve had little to no information on before the trailer came out, another trailer could totally dismantle all of it. And the movie on release could bury it. But if the theory turns out to be valid, it could mean that Turner could serve as a conflicted youth for one scene, and in another scene with a more “adult” theme, Chastain could be the stand-in, doing the deed a young Jean Grey couldn’t bring herself to do.
However, she was doing quite a bit of damage to that military chopper, all by herself. My best guess is she act like a split personality or a voice in her head.
The Real Villain
A conflicted teen with no real grasp of who she is and where she fits in this world is a theme that the X-Men in their heyday almost perfected in the comics and the animated series. Where I feel the theme loses the flavor is in the films. Instead of being different and being a danger to the world, the mutants and their powers are seen as cool, and it’s cool to be part of the outliers of society.
I’m hoping for X-Men films to go back to the source material and to give that sense of danger to their power. A responsibility with it that didn’t make it feel cool to the audiences with their spectacle, but feel the weight of their consequences. They tried this with Rogue in the original trilogy, but it was always a subplot.
If Chastain makes Jean out to be the danger that society fears, and the Omega level mutant the galaxy must take note of, then it won’t matter if she’s a Skrull, Shi’ar, or Phoenix. The real villain will be painted for the audience, and it’ll be the weight of having power, embodied in the actions of Jean Grey.
If this is the last X-Men film from Fox and they fail to make it happen for audiences, then we’ll just have to wait and see if Disney and Kevin Feige can do it. It might be a long wait before we see that happen again, or we might get it in the upcoming Josh Boone film The New Mutants.
Do you think Jessica Chastain’s character is the Phoenix Force? If not, then who do you think she could be?
Dark Phoenix is out in theaters on February 14, 2019.