Just ahead of the WonderCon panel, featuring the filmmakers and cast members of Dark Phoenix, the newest X-Males film from Fox, a message more than the public address program informed the crowd at the Anaheim Convention Center’s Arena that no time would be allotted for audience queries. There was an amused murmur from the crowd that seemed to say: That figures.

Dark Phoenix won’t open in theaters till June 7 but the film’s reputation has taken a beating for months with some of the harshest advance word of any key superhero sequel given that, properly, the franchise’s preceding installment, X-Males: Apocalypse in 2016. It was not clear, even so, how significantly of that adverse word was informed by genuine firsthand know-how and how significantly of it was an early-bird pile-on by adverse nellies.

With the Disney acquisition of Fox, Dark Phoenix can be viewed as a lame-duck entry in a quick-timer superhero universe that will quickly be reconsidered, revamped, recast, and relaunched. The film has a initially-time director (longtime X-Males screenwriter Simon Kinberg), a second-hand story (it was adapted currently in X-Males: Final Stand in 2006), and a fallback release date (it was initially slotted for final November). The final film also sapped power out of the franchise, its fanbase, and (reportedly) its cast as properly.

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Dark Phoenix tells a classic 1980s tale from the pages of Marvel Comics that might be the most revered epic in Marvel’s 80 years of publishing. The story focuses on Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), the X-Males character whose vast powers might surge beyond these of any other mutant on earth. Following a space mission goes awry, even so, Jean’s powers threaten to consume her and the complete globe with her if she can not obtain a way to handle their dark appetites. It is the 12th film in Fox’s venerable X-Men franchise dating back to Bryan Singer’s X-Men in 2000.

The panel started with writer-director Simon Kinberg and producer Hutch Parker (later joined by a half-dozen cast members) who each produced comments that had been candid (and even contrite) with regards to the lapses of a franchise that turns 19-years-old this summer time. “You let us know when we got it incorrect,” Kinberg mentioned at 1 point. Parker, although praising the classic X-Males comics, mentioned the franchise stumbled when it didn’t hew to the supply material: “The underlying material is just so superior and frankly it is superior than we’ve been as storytellers in some situations. This is a film that aspires to attempt to tackle the possible of all of that although honoring the legacy and the characters.”

With all of that as a preamble, it was quick to count on the worst when the arena lights went down and new footage filled the screen. Instead a funny factor occurred. The 10-minute sequence from the initially act of Dark Phoenix wasn’t negative — it was, in truth, the opposite of negative. Which is to say it was superior. Really superior. Like X-Males: Days of Future Previous sort of superior.

The crowd cheered enthusiastically for action-packed scenes, which had been brisk, evocative, and intense. There was humor and conflict. Group unity and character traits had been revealed by way of action, group division and inner conflict had been communicated with subtlety. To steer clear of mild spoilers, skip the subsequent two paragraphs, which summarize the initially-act footage shown these days.

The scene starts with the X-Males — Jean Gray (Sophie Turner), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Quicksilver (Evan Peters), and team leader Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) — embarking on a desperate rescue mission in space. Professor X (James McCoy) is in communication with the group and with NASA as properly and reveals the facts of the crisis. A disabled shuttle and its crew are in the path of a solar flare, time is quick. Mystique crisply directs the group into action — as Beast pilots, Cyclops slides down into a 1-man turret on the belly of the Blackbird jet and utilizes his energy blasts to steady the shuttle. Storm utilizes her energy to include its escaping air. Nightcrawler and Quicksilver teleport to the craft and retrieve the crew. But there’s a dilemma — 1 astronaut is nevertheless missing.

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The solar flare is approaching and Professor X and Mystique debate the wisdom of going back for the remaining astronaut. In the finish, a frustrated Mystique relents. Nightcrawler and Jean go aboard the shuttle. Jean utilizes her energy to hold the blistering and disintegrating hull intact although Nightcrawler finds the crewman. The flare hits. Nigtcrawler and the astronaut make it back to the Blackbird but Jean does not. Alternatively she absorbs the flare in dramatic style. The X-Males consider she’s dead when they bring Jean back aboard but she is seemingly uninjured. The X-Males are greeted as heroes back on earth by a grateful nation and adoring youngsters with blue face make-up and action figures. Back at the mansion headquarters of the group, Quicksilver boasts about his exploits in space, Beast starts healthcare tests for Jean and tension simmers among Professor X and Mystique. She ends their terse exchange by pointing out that the males on the group are not the 1 who do most of the threat-taking in the field. “You could want to consider about altering the name to X-Ladies.”

The audience cheered extended and loud, in particular for the X-Ladies line, which resonates strongly with the present female empowerment trend in Hollywood superhero cinema. The studio has been releasing X-Males films for 18 years and they have prominently integrated 3 Oscar-winning actresses (Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Jennifer Lawrence) but Dark Phoenix is the brand’s initially film with a female title character — who is a sign of the occasions as female superheroes break the standard mold of Hollywood superhero fare.

The panel discussion continued with the six cast members (Turner, Sheridan, Hoult, Shipp, Smit-McPhee, Peters) joining the stage presentation. Sheridan talked about the challenges of acting with his eyes obscured (he’s turn out to be a master of “eyebrow acting”), Turner noted that she researched schizophrenia to obtain functionality insights for Jean’s transformation, and Shipp explained the cast’s rather alarming drinking game (it involved tequila and face-slapping). Hoult noted that he has ingested so significantly blue fur from his Beast costume that he coughs up indigo hairballs.

The fans loved the banter but all the footage shown through the panel (and its influence in the space) was the large takeaway. If Dark Phoenix rises to accomplishment this summer time it is turnaround could be traced back to the reputation rescue mission that succeeded these days in Anaheim.

WonderCon runs by way of Sunday with notable Hollywood-connected presentations for projects that include The Significant Bang Theory, Child’s Play, HannaDeadly Class, Into the Badlands, Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger, LegionMarvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.DThe Twilight Zone, A Conversation of Witches, and an unspecified project preview from Warner Bros./New Line. The 80th anniversary of Batman, which arrives this Sunday, will also be a key theme of the weekend.

With the surging energy of the Phoenix Force threatening, the only individuals who can save the day are Jean Gray’s extended loved ones.  Professor X (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan),  Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Quicksilver (Evan Peters) are the final line of defense but in the finish will they save Jean or destroy her? Dark Phoenix is written and directed by Simon Kinberg.