The X-Men movie franchise is still chugging along — and it’s returning to one of the comics’ best-known stories.
For those of you who haven’t read it, the Dark Phoenix saga focuses on Jean Grey’s growing telekinetic powers, which eventually transform her personality and force her fellow X-Men to make a terrible choice. It’s action-packed and emotional, and arguably the most famous story in the characters’ 50-year history.
The storyline was adapted more than a decade ago into the terrible “X-Men: The Last Stand,” which remains the franchise low-point. However, by rebooting the series with younger actors in “First Class,” then tinkering with the timeline in “Days of Future Past,” Fox has given filmmakers a second shot.
The movie comes at a fraught time for the cinematic X-Men. Sure, the franchise thrived in recent years when focusing on individual characters in “Deadpool” and “Logan,” but “Apocalypse” (the last film to focus on the entire X-Men team) was both a mess and a box office disappointment. “Dark Phoenix” itself was delayed for extensive reshoots. And it’s not clear what’s going to happen to the characters now that Disney (which owns Marvel and its cinematic universe) has acquired Fox.
So the trailer has a big job: Getting the public excited about the X-Men again. To do that, it leans less on special effects and set pieces, more on a foreboding tone, and on the franchise’s big, returning stars — James McAvoy as Professor Xavier, Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, plus “Game of Thrones” star Sophie Turner, who’s returning as Jean Grey.
Have Fox and writer-director Simon Kinberg (who co-wrote “Last Stand,” as well as “Days of Future Past” and “Apocalypse”) done a better job with the story this time? We’ll find out on February 14.