It is the end of an era. Twenty years and twelve movies later the X-Men legacy is coming to an end for its time with Twentieth Century Fox. Of course with everybody so focussed on Endgame the release of Dark Phoenix has almost come as a shock for some… but of course as HEAVY Mag found out that certainly doesn’t make it any less of a film. Nope Dark Phoenix certainly has all the goods and the cast certainly agree.
“It is the first time we have had a female protagonist or even a centre-stage female lead,” says star Michael Fassbender when reflecting on what sets Dark Phoenix apart from the other X-Men movies. “I think it is everything that Simon (director – Simon Kinberg) loves about the X-Men universe in terms of the relationships and characters and how they relate to each other. It is a very character driven piece but of course there are also moments of great spectacle – definitely the last act is pretty intense. I think even the way he approached shooting it was different – it didn’t have your traditional epic sweeping camera shots, they are used but sparingly and for the right reasons. A lot of it is shot hand-held or on the shoulder and it is very intimate.”
“I think this is a film that if you took all the super-powers out of it it is about a family,” adds James McAvoy who once again reprises his role of Professor Charles Xavier for the film. “They all live together, they have all been living together for years and they Jean takes on all aspects of the family – daughter, sister, wife – and now she is mentally unwell – and it is about the family and the extended family trying to work out how to help her and how to cope with that and we see how it tears that family apart.”
“We met each other almost twenty years ago now on Band Of Brothers,” says Fassbender when he is asked whether there was chemistry between he and McAvoy when they first started their roles of Xavier and Magneto.
“I think there was chemistry there from the beginning and that is why we agreed to do this,” intercuts McAvoy.
“Yeah James was at my audition when I first auditioned for Eric as well,” explains Fassbender. “James was kind enough to be there for me for that.”
“Yeah and all the scenes were so natural,” says McAvoy nodding. “There were scenes when we were shooting that that were almost two guys shooting the shit about who they love, the people that they were in love with, and it did feel very comfortable. It just felt like a couple of guys and I think that was why it ended up working.”
That leads to the question of what the relationship is like between Xavier and Eric this time around. “I think they are on ice this time,” says McAvoy thinking. “They’ve both pretty much gone separate ways and decided you do your thing and I will do my thing. They’ve annoyed each so much that they have decided not to talk full awhile – it’s like ‘I still love you but let’s not talk for awhile, let’s not see each other and let’s give each other some space. I’ll be there but only call me if it is something important.’”
When talk turns to what Kinberg was like in his first time as a feature film director Fassbender says. “He was great. He kind of just picked up from where he left off as producer and writer – he was very chilled, very informed about what he was doing and also very collaborative. I have to admit that i was very nervous because to start your first film as something this size it’s quite daunting, but he was very relaxed, very patient and he had great vocabulary with each department…. there are like five hundred crew members. He had a very clear vision about what he wanted with the film.”
“The train stuff,” says McAvoy without even a moment’s hesitation when he is asked what the most fun action sequence was that he got to shoot on Dark Phoenix. “We were actually able to put Charles in the middle of the action sequence and use him – he was able to use his powers and be part of it. I often find that there is an action sequence and they are like we need to get rid of Charles real quick because he can just say ‘everybody be chill’ and everybody will be chilled, but this time they managed to work him into it in a really cool way.”
Dark Phoenix is in cinemas now.