Small details you missed in the Dark Phoenix trailer

The first trailer for X-Men: Dark Phoenix has been released, and unsurprisingly, there's a lot of anger, sadness, and foreshadowing packed into the two-minute clip. Writer/director Simon Kinberg has written the scripts for all the X-titles from 2011's X-Men: First Class through X-Men: Apocalypse, released in 2016. That series isn't his first stint with the X-Men, however — in 2006, he wrote the screenplay for the last major screen attempt at the Dark Phoenix story, X-Men: The Last Stand

The tone of this take on the classic comics tale appears to be somewhat darker. No one seems happy at all, we see several shots of a funeral, and the whole thing is set to a cover of the Doors classic "The End." This film closes out the rebooted X-Men franchise that started with First Class, so it's a fitting choice as far as mood music goes. What other clues are lurking within the frames of the trailer? We've watched it a whole bunch of times to help you uncover all the small details and hints you might have missed.

Jean's solar flare-up

The trailer boasts a shot of familiar X-Jet the Blackbird, hurtling through space and looking a bit out of control. In the issues leading up to the original Chris Claremont-penned comic arc known as The Dark Phoenix Saga, following a space face-off with the mutant-hunting robots known as the Sentinels, the X-Men plummet to Earth in a damaged ship piloted by Jean Grey. Jean is unable to shield herself entirely from solar radiation and the resulting injury and crash landing lead to the birth of the Phoenix: sort of Jean, and sort of not-Jean. It's complicated. 

In an interview with EW, Kinberg confirmed that in Dark Phoenix the X-men are "dispatched to space for a rescue mission, a solar flare hits the X-Jet and the surge of energy ignites a malevolent, power-hungry new force within Jean." 

The shot of the X-Jet is followed by a close up of Mystique strapped inside of the plane looking worried, which is echoed later in the trailer when the shape-shifting mutant's eyes close and she's illuminated by a bright light. Just before that, we also see a shot of what appears to be the solar flare right on the tail of the X-Jet.

This girl is on fire

We saw Sophie Turner's Jean first tap into her fiery Phoenix powers at the end of X-Men: Apocalypse. In the Dark Phoenix trailer, we're treated to several shots of Jean aflame. One shows her completely engulfed in a fire that appears to get drawn into her body. She's sporting an X-uniform, so it's possible this shot comes from the scene when Jean is overcome by the solar flare. 

The Phoenix force was powerful enough to defeat Apocalypse, and in this trailer we see it invading Cerebro while Professor X is using the brain-amplifying machine. The Phoenix flames might be all in his head, so whether this is a brief vision or the Phoenix actually attacking Xavier's mind remains to be seen.

We're treated to a few other moments when fire burns in the irises of Jean's blue eyes as she embraces her newfound powers, as in the final shot of the trailer when flame veins creep over her face and an ominous voiceover tells us, "I've seen evil, and I'm looking at it now." 

We also saw Famke Janssen's Jean grappling with her Phoenix powers throughout The Last Stand. That Jean failed to control the cosmic force and, as in the original comic, she sacrificed herself to end the destruction. Will this Jean have a better outcome? The title card at the end of the trailer seems a bit foreboding, and shows a vaguely Phoenix-shaped flicker of light behind a group of clouds. 

That weird island

In late 2017, it was confirmed that Dark Phoenix would take Jean to the island of Genosha, where Magneto has set up "this place for mutants that don't have a home to go to," according to actor Michael Fassbender, who plays the magnetic mutant. As in the comics, the big-screen version of Magneto is more complicated than your average villain, with his struggles against the X-Men often coming down to opposing ideologies more than a truly evil moral code. Genosha offers another example of his efforts to aid mutantkind — and how it's rooted in a cynical distrust of the human race.

"They have to work as a community," added Fassbender. "But it's a safe place for them and they'll be accepted." Genosha is a well-traveled location for mutants in the source comics, first appearing in 1988 as a wealthy island nation that achieved its riches by exploiting the mutants born there as slaves. Magneto has taken over the island before, in the 1999 limited series Magneto Rex, during which he also converted it into a haven for mutants. 

You can never go home again

Kinberg makes his directorial debut with Dark Phoenix, and has said that "it would have killed me to hand this to somebody else to direct." Based on what we see in this trailer, Kinberg revisits key moments we saw in The Last Stand. Rumor has it that studio pressure led to much of his script for that film being edited down, sidelining Jean in the process. In Dark Phoenix, Kinberg appears to bring Jean back to her childhood home as she struggles to restrain her emerging Phoenix powers, as he did in his script for The Last Stand. Here we see Jean confront the X-Men in the street outside a house in a suburban neighborhood, which is then shown exploding. It's likely this marks a turning point in the film, as the symbolism of Jean destroying the home of her late parents can't be denied in the context of a film that centers on her struggle to retain her identity in the face of her increasingly unrestrained power.

Sharp dressed team

During that face-off with her X-Men teammates, we're treated to our first clear long shot of the new X-uniforms — and it should be a very welcome sight for longtime fans of the comics series. The design is nearly identical to the revamped look drawn by renowned artist Frank Quitely for equally renowned writer Grant Morrison's influential take on the franchise, which was published as the New X-Men series starting in 2001. This series also dealt with happenings on the island of Genosha, but only time will tell whether the New X-Men influence on Dark Phoenix stretches beyond costuming, or if this is simply a nod to the characters' illustrious history on the page. Either way, the X-Men movies have long needed to strike a fine balance between cinematic storytelling and straight up fan service; if the Dark Phoenix trailer is any indication, this trilogy-capping installment won't be any exception.

Jean isn't the only one switching sides

Throughout the Dark Phoenix trailer, Professor X's handling of Jean and her link to her Phoenix power is questioned by those closest to him. Within the first 30 seconds, Mystique asks the Professor: "Charles, what did you do?" The mentalist mutant headmaster replies "I protected her." Mystique is having none of this rationalization, and retorts: "from the truth? There's another word for that." She's not the only blue mutant who questions Professor X's judgement on the matter. Later we see Hank McCoy, a.k.a. Beast, confronting the Professor while in his human form and telling him, "This is your fault, Charles."

Whatever Hank is blaming Charles for, it's clearly pretty serious because a still later shot shows the Professor in a standoff opposite Magneto and several of his mutant team — and who is among them but McCoy in his Beast form. What could drive this intelligent, measured academic to take up with Magneto against his mentor and friend? A close-up of Hank pressing his anguished blue face to Mystique's similarly hued cheek may hold the answer. In The Last Stand, Jean's powers truly moved beyond her control following her murder of Cyclops and the Professor. Could her turning point in Dark Phoenix come when her power leads to death of Mystique, which leads a heartbroken Beast toward the dark side as well?

Who is at death's door?

There's no way to know who's in the freshly dug grave that flashes by toward the climax of the Dark Phoenix trailer, but we can unravel some clues. We see four umbrellas and five people standing around the grave in the rain, mourning someone's loss. Standing in the downpour sans umbrella is the blue-footed Beast, adding more credibility to the theory that the dead person is someone close to him, as he's seemingly so affected by grief that he neglects to shield himself from the rain. Underneath another umbrella, the footrest of Professor X's wheelchair can be seen, leaving three mysterious figures to identify. 

A close-up of Storm and Nightcrawler in black attire under umbrellas in the rain reveals two of the three remaining mourners. So who does the last umbrella belong to? Likely it's Cyclops, who in an earlier trailer shot says "Jean lost control, but she's still our friend." He's wearing a black tie and suit, and standing in the background are Nightcrawler and Mystique, wearing outfits that appear to be the same they wore at the rainy graveyard. Though this gravesite imagery invokes the funeral of Jean Grey from the end of The Dark Phoenix Saga seen in the original comics, this closer look reveals it's very possible the grave contain's Jean's victim rather than the lady herself.

Who is that strange blonde?

A closely guarded secret of Dark Phoenix is the identity of Jessica Chastain's character. The studio has been tight-lipped, with Kinberg revealing only that "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." Fans have theorized the unknown woman to be a version of Mastermind, the mutant who invaded Jean's mind to brainwash her further toward the dark side in the comics. This was shot down by Kinberg, who did concede that "there are elements of the way Mastermind manipulates Jean that Jessica's character does employ… you'll see that Jessica's character has elements of a few different characters from the comics."

Fans wondered if one of those characters could be Lilandra, the Shi'ar Empress who's been entwined in the story of the Dark Phoenix throughout several of Marvel's comic continuities. In a now-deleted comment on Instagram, Chastain wrote: "Hey folks, want a scoop? Im not playing Lilandra." A shot of Chastain in a church harkens back to the religious zealotry of the version of Lilandra seen in Ultimate X-Men continuity, where she appeared as a wealthy woman running a cult that worships the Phoenix and claims to be descended from aliens. 

Still others claim there's going to be a Skrull connection in Dark Phoenix, leading to speculation that Chastain herself is a shape-shifting Skrull. 

Jean the dark side queen's new look

Speaking of Mastermind, one of the most campy and visually striking moments of the comics that make up The Dark Phoenix Saga is Jean Grey's adoption of her "Black Queen" identity as a result of Mastermind's mental manipulations. Memorable for her fetish fashion outfit and cape, Jean as the Black Queen betrays her fellow X-Men before breaking free of the mind control. A shot late in the trailer shows Jean wearing a dark leather jacket with a raised collar, along with a more dramatic hairstyle and earrings. We see her in a similar getup in her earlier clip speaking to Chastain in the church, which further connects this outfit to the mental manipulation of that mysterious character. Could this be a modified Black Queen ensemble, a subtle nod to the change in outfit from the original comics? 

Further complicating things are reports that actor Kota Eberhardt, seen standing next to Magneto when Beast appears to switch his allegiance, plays a mutant named Selene. Some claim this refers to Lady Selene, a powerful immortal being who herself takes on the mantle of the Black Queen in later X-Men comics continuity.