The action film hits theaters June 7

By Dave Quinn
February 28, 2019 10:12 AM
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Jennifer Lawrence‘s time with the X-Men franchise is coming to an end.

In the opening moments of the new trailer for the upcoming Dark Phoenix — the latest installment of the popular comic book film franchise — Lawrence’s shapeshifting mutant character Mystique meets her untimely death, with the embattled Jean Grey (Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner) lashing out and killing her while the other X-Men watch helplessly.

“Why did you make me do that?” Jean says later, through tears, as she talks to the emerging Dark Phoenix inside her. “She was my friend.”

The moment in the trailer, which dropped Wednesday, will be a shock for fans who have come to rely on Lawrence’s Mystique as one of the cornerstones of the franchise ever since she took over the role from Rebecca Romijn in 2011’s X-Men: First Class.

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Jennifer Lawrence in Dark Phoenix
| Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

Back then, Lawrence signed a three-picture deal that locked her in for 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past and 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse. After that expired, most — even Lawrence — thought she wouldn’t return. But as she told Entertainment Weekly back in 2017, writer/producer/director Simon Kinberg convinced her otherwise.

“I kind of f—ed myself,” Lawrence said. “Because when I was trying to talk Simon into directing, he said something like, ‘If I direct it, you have to do it,’ and I was like, ‘Of course! Duh!’ Then they offered me the movie, and I was like, ‘Goddammit!’ ”

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Sophie Turner in Dark Phoenix
| Credit: The Late Late Show with James Corden/Youtube

So why choose to kill off Mystique? Kinberg told EW on Wednesday that the decision came down to what was best for the story.

“I had a lot of emotions about it. I was obviously sad about it, as Jen’s friend, and also as a fan of Jen as an actress. But I felt it was the strongest, most dramatic thing for the movie, and sometimes you have to make those kinds of hard decisions to service the larger story,” Kinberg said.

“The larger story really is Jean cracking up, losing control because she’s more powerful than anyone else in the world. To dramatize that properly, you have to show real loss, you have to show real pain and show real threat and menace,” Kinberg added. “I didn’t want to do that by her blowing up a building with anonymous people in it. It had to feel really personal for the X-Men, and I wanted it to be something that would fracture the X-Men as well.”

He added: “Mystique is someone who in our universe has been part of the X-Men and has been part of Magneto’s world. Her death impacts literally everybody.”

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Jennifer Lawrence
| Credit: Chelsea Lauren/REX/Shutterstock

Despite the death of her character, Lawrence did tell EW in 2017 that working on Phoenix under Kinberg’s script and direction was her most satisfying turn as Mystique to date.

“Acting-wise it was the best experience I’ve had [on these films],” said Lawrence — who is now engaged to fiancé Cooke Maroney. “[Simon’s] been writing these characters for so long and he knows them so deeply. I suddenly felt more connected to my character than I ever have been before.”

Filming also struck Lawrence as unique. “It was unrecognizable,” she continued. “Everything was on time. Everything was organized. These movies have always been fun amidst chaos, and now they were fun with no chaos.”

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Meanwhile, it looks like Mystique won’t be the only beloved X-Men character fans lose in Dark Phoenix. Kinberg told EW there are “certainly other major casualties” in the film.

Some of those could come from Jessica Chastain’s mysterious character. The trailer shows her coaching Jean, telling the young mutant, “You’re special. And if you stop fighting that force inside you, if you embrace it, you will possess the very power of a god.”

She may look supportive of Jean, but Chastain’s character has other motives. “What they don’t understand, they fear. And what they fear, they seek to destroy,” she says. “Are you a scared little girl who answers to a man in a chair? Or are you the most powerful creature on the planet?”

Explained Chastain on Wednesday’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, “I play this character from another world, and I come to Earth because miss Jean Grey has a power I want to harness for my own uses.”

“I get to beat up a lot of X-Men in the movie, and maybe kill some?” Chastain continued. “Maybe someone lives, maybe someone dies? It’s an intense movie.”

Dark Phoenix — which also stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Tye Sheridan, Evan Peters and Alexandra Shipp — hits theaters June 7.