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With the approach of summer vacation, fans of the X-Men franchise will soon enjoy a visual feast on the big screen.
On June 6, the new superhero film X-Men: Dark Phoenix will open across Chinese mainland theaters, marking a conclusion of the nearly 20-year-long X-Men series.
Over recent years, superhero films have dominated cinemas worldwide to become the most popular and lucrative genre.
Despite how confusing it might be for ordinary audiences to know every character and their background, such films always have a unique appeal thanks to the special effects-studded spectacles featuring disasters and heroic battles.
To some extent, the reason why superhero films adapted from comics are so fascinating to North American fans is the same as why Chinese moviegoers once fancied martial arts films. They all feature larger-than-life tales that make us temporarily forget about how common we are in reality.
But Dark Phoenix is a bit different.
The film is about an antagonist.
Jean Grey, or the titular Dark Phoenix, has turned "bad" now.
It occurred in the long and convoluted history of Marvel.
Marvel Comics is 80 years old, and Jean Grey, who debuted in 1963, is now 56 years old in the history of the comic world.
In the past half century, Marvel Comics stories have spawned a number of animated series, TV dramas and films, featuring a lot of time-travel and multiuniverse events.
Ensemble of X-Men heroes
Jean Grey also has experienced many twists. Aside from a series of milestone incidents, including seeing the death of her friend, becoming the host of a dark power, and discovering her lover Cyclops having an affair, she is also killed a couple of times and comes back to life.
Considering that Disney has already finished the acquisition of Fox, it's exciting to see that X-Men will quite possibly join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And it also means Jean Grey will have more twists in the future.
But if you still have very limited knowledge about the blockbuster, it's time for a refresher on its history.
Jean Grey is a mutant. Mutants are a kind of subspecies of humans. With the mutation of genes, they possess superhuman powers. But compared to Thor, the Asgardian god, and Superman, an alien, mutants are obviously quite different as they are still creatures on the Earth.
Officially, Namor the Sub-Mariner is considered the first mutant superhero ever featured in Marvel Comics, making his debut in 1939. He is the son of a human father and an Atlantean princess.
Namor the Sub-Mariner 海王纳摩
With Hollywood's decadeslong effort to adapt the famous superhero comic stories into cinematic epics, the most well-known mutants are now the X-Men. And Dark Phoenix is the most powerful in the X-Men franchise.
Jean Grey was the younger daughter of Professor John Grey of the History Department of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. The college really exists in real life and was founded in 1860.
At the age of 10, Jean Grey was playing with her best friend Annie Richardson when Annie was hit by a car. The emotion that Jean felt as she held her dying friend awakened her own latent telepathic powers and she experienced Annie's own emotions as she died. But the accident also manifests her powers including telekinetic ability.
Soon, Professor Xavier took her in and she joined the X-Men. Besides her, the team comprised of Cyclops, Beast, Angel and Iceman.
Notably, she was in a relationship with Cyclops.
This is the turning point which constitutes the key plot element of the new film. The X-Men crashed their spaceship during an emergency space mission. Jean tried saving them by controlling the ship but exposed herself to lethal levels of space radiation, dying in the process. Determined to save Cyclops, she called for help in her last moments. Her call was answered by the Phoenix Force, a cosmic entity and the sum of all life forces in the universe.
The Phoenix Force is an immortal entity and is the prime universal force of life. It was born of the void, between states of being. It is the origin of all psionic energy and will exist forever in all realities of the omniverse.
Many are really looking forward to seeing how the Dark Phoenix force will conclude the legend of the 20-year-old X-Men films.
The film was shot over six months beginning in the spring of 2017 in and around Montreal. Production designer Claude Paré took the realistic approach that Kinberg wanted to heart, crafting a moodier look for the film.
Among Paré's tasks were constructing the neighborhood where Jean had lived as a young child. She goes back to the modest street to solve a mystery about her past, but the trip becomes the site of an explosive standoff between Jean and the X-Men, resulting in Raven's untimely death. The neighborhood street was constructed entirely from the ground up.
Just as much effort went into creating the fictional country of Genosha, an island nation where Fassbender's Erik lives peaceably among exiled mutants including two new characters, Black Queen Selene and Red Lotus. The community was constructed about an hour outside of downtown Montreal.
"It's a refuge for mutants who don't have anywhere else to go. It has a classic commune vibe — people living off the grid, being self-sufficient," actor Michael Fassbender once said.
Jean Grey has the telepathic ability.
The X-Men are a team of mutant superheroes, published in comic books by Marvel Comics.
The X-Men series is one of the best superhero film franchises.