Wednesday, June 14, 2017

X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX in Talks with Jessica Chastain for Lilandra

Professor X is about to have a star-crossed romance.

The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that the upcoming Fox movie X-Men: Dark Phoenix is in talks with Jessica Chastain for the role of Lilandra, the film's villain.  Lilandra is described in the article as "the empress of an alien empire called the Shi’ar, who leads the quest to imprison and execute Dark Phoenix, leading her into conflict with the X-Men."  The film will be written and directed by Simon Kinberg, making his directorial debut.

Chastain, 40, is probably best known as Maya in Zero Dark Thirty and Melissa Lewis in The Martian, and has appeared in a number of films including Crimson Peak, The Huntsman: Winter's War, Interstellar, and Jolene.  Her TV appearances include episodes of Journeyman, Dark Shadows (2005), Veronica Mars, and Law & Order: Trial by Jury.

In addition, the article states that Fox has closed deals for the return of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult to reprise their respective roles of Professor Charles Xavier, Magneto, Mystique and Beast.  

Sophie Turner will also reprise her role as Jean Grey, who becomes the cosmic force known as Dark Phoenix in the classic X-Men storyline "The Dark Phoenix Saga" by Chris Claremont and John Byrne.  The storyline was very loosely adapted for the Brett Ratner movie X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006.

Also returning from the movie X-Men: Apocalypse are Alexandra Shipp as Storm, Tye Sheridan as Cyclops, and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler.  

Created in 1976 by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum, Lilandra Neramani first appeared in X-Men (vol.1) #97 as the sibling of D'Ken, Deathbird, and an unnamed older sister.  Lilandra was born on the Aerie (now known as Chandilar, native world of the Shi'ar).  Deathbird, the oldest of the surviving three, was denied the throne for "unspeakable" crimes involving the murder of her mother and older sister and was exiled.  The throne went to D'Ken, who turned out to be a power mad dictator.  Lilandra became a Grand Admiral of the Imperial Guard, part of the Shi'ar fleet, but turned against D'Ken, when she found out about his plans involving the M'Kraan Crystal. Branded a traitor, Lilandra fled to Earth, hoping to find allies among its large population of superheroes and found them in Charles Xavier and his X-Men.  She began sending visions of herself to Xavier as she traveled to Earth.

Finally meeting Xavier in person, she was captured by Erik the Red and uncovered D'Ken's plot to gain ultimate power. She was saved by the space pirates known as the Starjammers and the X-Men, and reunited on Earth with Xavier.  She ultimately invited Xavier to accompany her to the Shi'ar throneworld.  The X-Men, in particular Phoenix, managed to stop D'Ken's plan, who ultimately was banished after being driven mad.  Lilandra took the throne as Majestrix-Shi'ar (empress of the Shi'ar Imperium) with Xavier as her official consort.  In "The Dark Phoenix Saga", she staged a trial by combat to determine the fate of Phoenix.  However, a short while later, her position was usurped by Deathbird, who had made a pact with the Brood and the Badoon.  She managed to escape along with the X-Men, and Lilandra became Majestrix-in-Exile on Earth.  She became a freedom fighter and allied herself with the Starjammers until she was able to take back her throne.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix is currently scheduled to arrive in theaters on November 2, 2018.

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