X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX Producers Reflect On The Mistakes They Made With X-MEN: APOCALYPSE

While X-Men: Apocalypse may have been a box office success, it didn't exactly live up to the lofty expectations set by its predecessor. Now, with X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Simon Kinberg hopes to course correct.

Last year, in the wake of the juggernaut that was Marvel's Captain America: Civil War, Bryan Singer's final entry in the long-running X-Men franchise, X-Men: Apocalypse, stormed into theaters at the end of the month to decidedly mixed reviews and ultimately grossed just over $543 million worldwide - which was about $200 million less than its predecessor, the critically-acclaimed X-Men: Days of Future Past, so in laymen's terms, it wasn't good news.

After that assuredly disappointing result, the X-franchise seemed to shift their focus elsewhere with acclaimed spinoffs Logan and Deadpool taking the spotlight and The New Mutants also getting considerably more coverage than X-Men: Dark Phoenix, which quietly began principal photography in June and then neatly wrapped filming in October, on schedule, without much fanfare, which was a considerable departure from the much more hectic Singer sets the cast and crew had become accustomed to. 

After receiving our first look at Dark Phoenix earlier this week, Entertainment Weekly caught up with writer/producer-turned-director Simon Kinberg and producer Hutch Parker to reflect on the divisive Apocalypse and duo were quite candid with their responses as they reflected on the mistakes they made with the previous chapter in the saga. Kinberg quickly nails the heart of the problem, “I think we took our eye off what has always been the bedrock of the franchise which is these characters. It became about global destruction and visual effects over emotion and character.

Parker offers some additional insight, essentially admitting that the screenplay was still work-in-progress throughout production, which is never a good sign. He also adds that Apocalypse came at a time when the superhero genre was evolving into something much grander and unfortunately, at the time, they didn't have the foresight to evolve with it. "It’s always dangerous if your script is evolving while you’re shooting. Certainly, in hindsight, we all feel like the genre has been evolving aesthetically and tonally and that the film didn’t. There’s a lot that I think is very good in the film but, as a whole, it was struggling to find ways to coalesce, narratively emotionally and in terms of plot. Aesthetically, it felt sort of dated relative to an evolution you were seeing play out everywhere else. We learned a lot from that.

Going into Dark Phoenix, Kinberg's main focus was to rectify the errors he made on Apocalypse and hopefully work toward course-correcting the franchise for fans of the long-running series. "One of the things I went into this film wanting to do is obviously focus on the characters and give them real emotions to play and come up with a theme that would make it feel relevant and necessary in today’s world."

To cap things off, his Dark Phoenix star Sophie Turner teased his more grounded approach for the sequel but also hints at some pretty otherworldly action. “It is so gritty and there are so many fantastical things in this movie and we really wanted it to resonate with every member of the audience who watches it so we had to make to so real as well. You still get that sense of escapism when people start flying but there’s so much reality in it. I think it will really affect people. And the way Simon shot it — the majority of this movie is handheld, like Steadicam.” Kinberg continues and harkens back to his initial pitch for the sequel, “The reference images were a lot of real-world imagery. Everything from real disaster footage to what a real lightning bolt looks like when it strikes the ground. What I talked about with the performances and the photography and the visual effects is it needs to all feel organic and it needs to feel like it lives in our world to make it feel relevant again and not so heightened.

So, what do you guys think? Excited to see the Dark Phoenix rise? Sound off with your thoughts below!

Jean Grey begins to develop incredible powers that corrupt and turn her into a Dark Phoenix. Now the X-Men will have to decide if the life of a team member is worth more than all the people living in the world.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix features:
Director: Simon Kinberg
James McAvoy as Charles Xavier/Professor X
Michael Fassbender as Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto
Jennifer Lawrence as Raven Darkhölme/Mystique
Nicholas Hoult as Hank McCoy/Beast
Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers/Cyclops
Sophie Turner as Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix
Alexandra Shipp as Ororo Munroe/Storm
Kodi Smit-McPhee as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler
Evan Peters as Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver
Olivia Munn as Elizabeth Braddock/Psylocke
Jessica Chastain in an undisclosed role
Daniel Cudmore in an undisclosed role
Lamar Johnson in an undisclosed role

X-Men: Dark Phoenix hits theaters November 2, 2018

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