One signature dynamic that's always defined the X-Men in most incarnations is the relationship between Scott Summers/Cyclops and Jean Grey/Phoenix, and Dark Phoenix provides a more thorough look the previous films neglected to do.
Tye Sheridan, who plays Summers, and Sophie Turner, who plays Grey, spoke to comicbook.com about their chemistry and how the film will tackle Jean's turn as the Phoenix affects them.
"I think it's such a cool part of the story, and a big part of who they are and then why they do the things that they do. Her love for Scott is one of the main reasons why it's such an internal struggle for her, because embracing Phoenix, which kind of means losing Scott. It's a very integral part of who she is."
Turner mentioned how Phoenix's addiction to power challenges them both.
"Yeah, I know. I mean. I think we all love a bit of romance. It's nice to see it in a film like this. I think, and especially like in this movie, I think that what's happening with Jean is, you know, people will relate to on many different levels. I think we all talked about addiction, and how we wanted to use that as a reference for when someone's addicted to a drug or alcohol or whatever. The substances, what it does to the people around them that they love, and that love them. There's kind of this interesting parallel between that and what's going on in this movie. Although, she's you know addicted to power. It's really interesting how love comes to play and really makes that tension much, much stronger. That tug-of-war much more complicated."
Fans from the comics, animated shows and the films explored the difficulties staying together as enhanced beings, the struggles of maintaining control, and the ongoing threat from other mutants and human xenophobes. In the 90s, the relationship expanded to a love triangle with Wolverine in the popular animated series of the same name, which also translated to the 2000 live-action film.
Unfortunately, the original live action trilogy poorly executed the triangle with James Marsden, Famke Jansen, and Hugh Jackman in the Cyclops, Jean, and Wolverine roles, respectively. Given the action-packed nature of the films, focus was placed on a bare minimum on those relationships and tensions. The climatic moment in The Last Stand between Jean and Wolverine did not come anywhere near the punch it should have, because we're to somehow assume some brief flirtatious moments on screen translates to deep-seated affection.
To Dark Phoenix's credit, director Simon Kinberg discussed the emphasis needed between Scott and Jean where it needs to be compared to the abrupt callous death he was given in TLS at the beginning of the film.
"The love story between Scott and Jean is such an integral part of the Dark Phoenix saga in any iteration, whether it's the comic book or the cartoons. Obviously we don't have Wolverine, so that's one less part of that love story. It is very central [to the movie], and they are a couple. As Jean starts to become more unstable, there are people in the X-Men who don't think she can be helped and saved, many of whom think the world and others need helping and saving from her. And so Scott is probably the most prominent person who's holding on to the hope that Jean can be saved."
Personally, the overemphasis on Wolverine hurt TLS with the subplot he didn't need to have. It was a shame Marsden's commitment to Superman Returns made his other character in Cyclops suffer such a cheap and unnecessary death. At least, they were able to right that wrong at the end of Days of Future Past.
Will Kinberg get their relationship right this time? Will Dark Phoenix exonerate the poor execution of The Last Stand?
Dark Phoenix, which also stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters and Jessica Chastain, comes to theaters June 7th, 2019