20th Century Fox hosted a panel to showcase the upcoming releases of Dark Phoenix and Alita: Battle Angel.
Why is now the time for a Phoenix story?
Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg and producer Hutch Parker took the stage. "The climate for these kinds of movies allows for the drama, the intensity, the character-driven nature of what a Dark Phoenix story needs to be," Kinberg said. "We felt like after the last X-Men that we made, Apocalyps,...the Dark Phoenix story is this intimate story about a central character in Jean who starts to lose control. That's all it is, really. It happens to manifest as super powers in huge destructive ways...It fractures this family around her as she, herself, is fracturing."
How is this movie different? Is anything similar?
"I don't know that I would liken it to any other movie," Parker said. "I guess, it'd be a weird mix between a family drama and, to some degree, a science fiction story. You've got elements of both. As you point out, it's very clear to us, the underlying material to all the X-Men universe is pretty incredible...With that, you feel an obligation to try to reach deeper into the material and as Simon alluded to, there's a lot of great work being done in this arena and the table felt like it had been well set to do what Simon has long wanted to do, which is to do a deep dive on Dark Phoenix."
Did Apocalypse pave the way?
"They like when we zig after we've zagged," Kinberg said. "Logan helped pave the way, actually...What Marvel Studios has done, in terms of making these movies extraterrestrial, taking them into space...allowed for us to tell the Dark Phoenix story, not just in the dramatic grounded ways that Logan does, but to also go to outer space, to also have alien characters.. He calls the film "cosmic" for lack of a better description. "It is a larger canvas than something like Logan."
Kinberg introduced the first footage: “The X-Men are known to the world, they're actually super heroes," Kinberg said. We see them on a mission and we see what starts to create the fracture in Jean. It’s got big action. IT’s also got the action, the drama in it.” The visual effects are not finished but “they will give you a sense of what it will look like.” The music is composed by Hans Zimmer.
A space ship blasts off after a countdown. It rockets into space. The footage is dated. In a control room, a woman stands above people who are watching. A man picks something up on his radar. Then another. They report their findings to the woman. The astronauts call a problem to Houston.
Proessor X and Beast are watching from the X-Mansion. Hank insists they can't get involved with this because they're not built to fly.
The President gives Charles a call from a phone designated with a "X" from his Oval Office.
Mystique leads Nightcrawler, Beast, Quicksilver, Cyclops, and Jean on the mission. Jean is reluctant, asking Mystique if she is okay with it. Mystique insists that if anything goes wrong, she'll turn them around.
The basketball court at the mansion splits, allowing the jet to rise up, unfold its wings, and take off.
News outlets report the second ship heading towards the space shuttle. Charles rides into Cerebro. He asks for information from NASA. He learns the team lost control, orientation, and communication. He assues her: "Help is on the way."
The jet races into the sky.Scott tries to calm Jean with a hand on her shoulder. The jet reaches space and gets ice on its glass as it slows. They approach a golden, glowing entity innear the atmosphere, seeing the space shuttle doing donuts in air. Beast explains that the cabin won't hold for long. Nightcraler can't see in a window to get inside.
Scott goes below deck to blast the shuttles engine to stop its spin. Kurt, seeing inside now, takes Peter and heads in. Storm seals the crackss. It's all under Mystique's orders. Peietro grabs all of the astronauts and brings them to Curt. On he jet, the astronaut decalres their commander is still on the shuttle.
Charles orders them to get the commander and asks Jean to hold the ship together. She can only do it from inside. Quicksilver creates a space suit for Nightcrawler. Jean keeps air near herself. They have transported to the ship. The golden entity is approaching. Nightcrawler finds the commander as Jean holds it together. He tries to get Jean back but the golden flares consume her.
Scott is furious when he sees Jean did not get back to the ship with them.Jean absorbs the other half of the force which was headed towards her friends. She screams in pain. Charles sees it. A massive flash erupts and Jean is left floating through space as the last rays of the force enter through various parts of her body. The X-Men look on, stunned. Nightcrawler teleports out to rescue her and brings her back. Scott, shocked, is the first to look at her. She opens her eyes, revealing a slight gold glow which fades quickly. "Is everybody okay?" she asks.
Scott tells her everyone is good and she is now ready to go home. The X-Men head back to Earth, being greeted by dozens of fans, holding signs reading, "X-Men 4 Ever" and offering tons of applause. =Kids have Mystique dolls. There are fans everywhere. Jean takes it in before getting more applause upon arrival at the X-Mansion.
Charles relays the President's regards, encourages everyone to enjoy themselves, and cancels class for the day. The kids hustle away before Charles asks Jean how she is feeling. She's fine but Mystique insists, "She should be dead."
"They're not kids anymore, Raven," Charles tells her. She, however, questions the risks he has them taking. "It's all just a means to an end," Charles said. "We're one bad day away from them seeing us as the enemies again." Raven hates their conforming and uniforms but Charles calls it "a small price to pay."
Raven closes the conversation by saying, "And by the way, the women are always saving the men around here. You might want to consider changing the name to X-Women!"
When did Sophie Turner find out this would be the Phoenix story?
"I was told about six months before we started shooting the movie," Turner explains. "Luckily, he gave me enough time to prepare...Fans are so in love with this story line and I really think that we did it justice."
"That's part of what makes these movies so resonant in general," "They deal so directly with alienation and prejudice and issues that certainly seem inescapable in the news these days. It's no accident that Simon wanted to tell this story and has empowered the female characters in this story in the ways that he has. That's not to say politcally. It's just a natural cultural instinct."
How was the experience different with Kinberg directing?
"He's definitely much more engaged and focused all around," Tye Sheridan said. "A lot of times, this story is so grounded in drama that that's what it's about. It's so innate in the script and in the writing. For us, it was nice to have someone guiding us and leading us. It's a big movie. You need someone who can really hone in on a vision and a detail."
How did Sophie Turner prepare for this?
"I prepared with a lot of cosmic rays," Turner joked. "I used to stand by the microwave and let them flow into me, feel that power, and I'd go scream at my mum for a while. 'Sorry, Dark Phoenix!'"
More seriously, she explained the back and forth work to prepare. She studied schitsophrenia and multiple personality disorder. For two days, she listened to a YouTube channel revealing what sounds like to be schizophrenic. "I got nothing done," she said. "Before we even started the movie, we had two weeks of just rehearsals for hours and hours and hour a day."
Which cast member was particularly excited and engaged?
"In these big movies, you get the least rehearsal time," Kinberg said. "I would say the person I might have collaborated with in a similar way was Jessica Chastain." This was Chastain's first movie of the type. "She had a lot of thoughts and we crafted the look together, her voicing, and even the way that we approached her character. She's many things in this movie in the roles her character plays but she is ultimately the villain of the film."
The attention shifts to Alita: Battle Angel. Producer Jon Landau and director Robert Rodriguez take the stage.
Landau starts out by explaining that James Cameron thought doing Avatar first would help Alita and, in fact, doing Alita has helped the Avatar sequels. "Jim writes into his movies themes that are bigger than his movies," Landau said. "One day, Jim was having a social lunch with Robert Rodriguez." The lunch lead to Rodriguez becoming the film's director.
Rodriguez explains that he is a fan of the property like everyone else here. Cameron showed him 15 minutes of Alita: Battle Angel's art reel.
Landau introduces a message from Kishiro Yukito in which he gives the film his seal of approval. Landau then introduces the film's trailer and 22 minutes of footage.
In the first scene from the film, Alita awakens in a bed. Her hands are robotic. She looks at them, shocked. Her entire body, revealed a moment later, is of a similar build with impressive designs artistically scattered on it. Shes gets out of the bed and tries to walk, stumbling at first, but ultimately heading to a mirror. She feels herself and the mirror. "Wow."
Downstairs, Ito works with a patient. He is trying to improve the functionality of his arm. In exchange, the man leaves him oranges as payment. Alita is trying to sneak up on them and Ito is amazed at the sight of her. "How do you feel?" he asks.
"Okay," she tells him. There is no pain or numbness. "I'm a little hungry." Moments later, she eats an orange by biting eating into, comedically spitting it out because the peel is gross. Ito introduces himself and the nurse. She doesn't remember herself, though. "It's completely blank," she says of her memory. "I don't even know my own name."
Ito points out that the bright side is her tears are working. She bites into the orange properly, thoroughly enjoying it.
The next scene sees Alita's first journey into the streets of Iron City.
Ito leaves her Alita outside for a moment. She is gleefully eating. With a little dog passing, she feeds it and it licks her face in return. A piece of paper blows her way, indicating someone is wanted for murder. As a massive machine approaches, a young man tries to tell her to watch out but she strikes a defensive pose. He tackles her out of harm's way but she rushes back underneath the Centurion robot to save the dog.
The young man is impressed with her bravery and, later, her cyborg nature. She happily explains that Dr. Ito built here before asking what a Centurion is. Ito approaches, cutting off the conversation, prompting the young man to tell him he got the driver boards he was looking for.
Ito tells her the young man is Hugo, a hard worker, before hustling her away.
In another scene, Alita has grown suspicious of Ito and follows him into the dark streets of Iron City.
Ito follows a woman in a red dress with a hood on as Alita creeps behind him. In an alley, Ito preps a massive weapon. He stands posted at a corner, ready to attack with his massive axe. Alita drops down to stop him. However, it's a trap, and several cyborgs surround them. One is massive, with broad shoulders, the other has hooks for hands. They thank him for bringing the girl, a move which will save them time.
Ito manages to slice one of the hook arms from the man with his rocket propelled axe. When he reaches for it, the woman in the red dress approaches him. The hook-hand man declares he gets to kill Ito but she can have the girl. Alita springs into actin, pounding the man's face with her fists until he's dead.
The woman sheds her red dress, revealing a shiny cyborg body and hook hands. A fight ensues. The massive cyborg plants Ito on a wall and tells him to watch Alita die. Alita, however, manages to defeat the cyborg by stomping its face to a wall.
Hugo shows Alita outside of the city in another scene.
The two characters journey outside of the city, needing to be back by dark per city curfew. They journey through the tropical woods. Alita is lead to a ship that is sticking out of the water. Hugo wants to help her remember things. She suddenly knows a lot about this ship and heads straight for the command deck, not needing to breath under water. Her friends wait, wondering how long she can stay under there.
Alita emerges from the water, now inside the ship. She calmly heads to the command room, discovring skeletons as lights come on as she approaches them. Through a doorway, she discovers an energy field. She prompts a control panel to rse up, enters some codes, and the energy field drops down to reveal a cyborg body handing where several others would be, too. She looks up at it, happpily.
In another scene, Alita has asked Ito to transfer her to the new cyborg body.
Ito refuses to help Alita be in this body. Alita insists she needs it to fight. Alita realizes that she has been on those enemy warships before. She knows she is a warrior. Ito explains that this is called a "berserker." He goes on to tell her she is the most advanced cyborg weapon ever created which is why he won't unite her with this body.
The last clip will see Alita going head to head with the film's villain, Gruishka.
In the underworld, Alita is greeted by a villainous voice. The massive cyborg from earlier emerges to fight her. A fight begins. Alita uses acrobatic dodges to evade his weapons before he lowers his fingers into spikes on chains. Each of them are sent at her viciously but she doges, flipping through the air in slow motion, before striking. Her right leg is struck, though. She flees the spikes and chains down a cliff. Gruishka follows. He insists his master Nova is shaping her destiny now. She wants to know more but elects to dive through his chains and land a punch.
Rosa Salazar and Keean Johnson take the stage.
How did Salazar prepare?
"I was cast in the role and then the next day I was training," "I trained close to five months for a few hours every single day. I did some muoy tai, some kung fu...it was all about physically preparing myself...but it also mentally prepared me. The thing about martial arts is it's mind body and soul...Other than that, the performance capture suit, it informed also. I'm a walking contraption at this point! I hve a battery back, and a fan, and a recorder...I was a piece of tecnhology walking around!"0comments
Johnson started dancing when he was five and did a Broadway show for more than three years.
"This was my first film," Johnson said. "When your first day on set is with Christoph Waltz, I don't know if it gets better than that...The difference between Broadway is you have to project. On film, you have to be subtle."