At Wondercon in Anaheim there was a panel featuring the filmmakers and cast members of Dark Phoenix, the most recent installment of the X-Men series. Before the panel started, a message over the loudspeakers said that due to time constraints, there would be no time for audience questions. The crowd murmured, collectively signaling, "Of course not."
We can only imagine the questions that were not able to be asked, but we don't have to imagine the brutal beat down this film has taken. Dark Phoenix has been saddled with a harsh advanced word similar to what X-Men: Apocalypse endured in 2016. What has not become clear through the early negative hype is how much of it flowing around the new X-Men movie is from genuine firsthand knowledge of the film or if the noise is being generated by online haters like those that piled on Captain Marvel before that movie came out.
Dark Phoenix is comic canon in the X-Men universe. Jean Grey starting out as Marvel Girl in the X-Men #1, transforms in a storyline series that is among one of the most revered in the history of Marvel Comics. The Dark Phoenix saga tracks Jean until she ultimately becomes so powerful in the universe, that no one can stop her but herself.
At WonderCon the panel began with writer-director Simon Kinberg and producer Hutch Parker acknowledging the way things have gone down with the new movie. Kinberg said to fans point blank.
"You let us know when we got it wrong."
The X-Men franchise turns 19 this summer. Parker, commenting on the negativity said that he thought the franchise "stumbled" when it didn't rely on the rich source material that birthed the films. "The underlying material is just so good and frankly it's better than we've been as storytellers in some cases. This is a film that aspires to try to tackle the potential of all of that while honoring the legacy and the characters."
The panel was there to show a 10 minute sequence from the first act of Dark Phoenix. As the lights went down, the crowd wasn't sure what to expect. The footage was met enthusiastically with cheering going on during the most action packed scenes, which were said to be fast paced, evocative and intense.
After seeing the footage, the lights came back up with the panel continuing the discussion with six cast members (Turner, Sheridan, Hoult, Shipp, Smit-McPhee, Peters) taking the stage. Sheridan talked about the challenges of acting with his eyes obscured commenting that "he's become a master of 'eyebrow acting'". Turner noted that she did some heavy research into schizophrenia to gain acting insight for Jean's transformation. Shipp then revealed that the cast had an interesting drinking game that involves both tequila and face slapping. Hoult joked that he has ingested so much blue fur from his Beast costume that he coughs up indigo hairballs.
From the recently released footage seen, it looks like the X-Men series may return stronger than ever. If the negative hype online quiets from the new footage it could signal the exact moment the Dark Phoenix hit stride for it's June 7th release date. A new comic book inspired poster was released during WonderCon, which you can see here in all of its screaming glory.