Sophie Turner's 'Dark Phoenix' Character May Be A Gamechanger For Women In Superhero Movies
Jean Grey has always been one of the most powerful characters in the X-Men universe, but she's rarely been allowed to show the full extent of her abilities on the big screen. Sophie Turner believes X-Men: Dark Phoenix could be a gamechanger for Jean, according to a new Empire interview. In fact, Turner believes that Dark Phoenix has the potential to revolutionize women's roles in superhero movies.
Coming off of the success of Wonder Woman in 2017, it seems clear that Hollywood's previous unwillingness to invest in women-led superhero movies was a big mistake. As long as the story is strong, audiences will come. And Dark Phoenix just so happens to be based on one of the most iconic character arcs in comic book history. Jean's turn from a peace-keeping, gentle-spirited mutant with immense telekinetic abilities into a source of pure, uncontrollable power is legendary. However, the first time the story was adapted for film in X-Men: The Last Stand, Jean's arc was muddled and the story was less about her than it was about Wolverine's attempts to save Jean from herself. Turner seems convinced that this time will be different.
Turner explained to Empire,
"It is really about duality, this movie. Darkness and light, that's all within her. This sense of being a completely other person and her struggling with that."
Jean will be both the hero and the villain of her own story, and that in itself is a major step in the right direction. But the movie's plans for putting its female characters first appear to extend beyond Jean.
"It's really exciting. I think there’s such a revolution in superhero movies. I feel like this movie is a revelation because of it being like a drama but the hero is a female and she's also the villain. It really is about her relationships with the females in the film, especially Jessica Chastain's character. It's really interesting to have those two characters be kind of the two biggest characters in the movie and both be female and so layered and so complex."
At the end of X-Men: Apocalypse, Jean tapped into the Phoenix for the first time, and seeing her explore the potential duality in her nature could make this one of the most emotional X-Men films yet. There's also plenty of potential to draw characters like Storm and Mystique into the story, because if anyone understands the push and pull between doing what's right or letting anger take control, it's these two women.
Then there's the added bonus of the film's non-Jean antagonist also being a women with potentially dark motivations of her own. While Chastain's role is being kept quiet, it's been established that she will be working closely with Turner. In fact, she could be nurturing the Phoenix for her own gains, according to director Simon Kinberg. Kinberg told EW,
"Her character is way way smarter than we are. What she realizes is she can use [Jean Grey] to manipulate this world, to turn it against itself."
That puts Jean in a position where her only course of action may be to harness control of her power to stop the Phoenix and Chastain's character. Turner is aware that there are plenty of heavy metaphors at play when it comes to Jean and the Phoenix, and she's put in the extra work to make sure she does right by the character. She told Empire that she researched mental health issues to better understand Jean's situation, because her struggle is in many ways based on the real-life issues of multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia.
If Dark Phoenix truly keeps the focus on its dynamic female leads, then it could become the first superhero team movie that puts its female heroes front and center. Turner's assurance that Jean will be the hero and villain of the story is reason enough to be excited for this movie. But only time will tell if Dark Phoenix will truly continue to push the superhero genre forward in terms of female representation.