Beginning with the original X-Men movie, back in the pre-superhero-industrial-complex year of 2000, every non-Deadpool entry in the franchise has had one thing in common: Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Dark Phoenix, due in theaters on June 7th, is the exception, and it’s not just because Jackman bid farewell to the character in James Mangold’s superb 2017 film Logan.
Jackman could still have fit into the timeline, Kinberg notes, in keeping with his small role in 2016’s X-Men Apocalypse. But there was another issue: At the time of the original Dark Phoenix saga in the comic books, Wolverine has a crush on Jean Grey (the X-Men member who becomes Dark Phoenix, currently played by Sophie Turner of Game of Thrones fame), and in the botched previous adaptation in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, there’s an overt love triangle between Cyclops, Wolverine and Jean. “If you know the Dark Phoenix story, you’d want to really service the love story between Logan and Jean,” says Kinberg. “And I think the notion of Hugh Jackman, as great as he looks for his age, and Sophie Turner — it didn’t sit well with me. Or anyone else!”
Plus, Kinberg wanted to keep the focus on the title character. “There was an element of this being Jean’s story,” he says. “And I was committing so fully to it that I didn’t want to run the risk of pulling away from Jean by going to the well of a fan-favorite character in these movies. I wanted this to be a very different experience of seeing an X-Men movie.”
For her part, Turner is optimistic about the film. “It’s Dark Phoenix done right,” she told Rolling Stone. (Read her recent cover story with Maisie Williams here.)