X-Men Producers Explain What Went Wrong With 'Apocalypse'

Fox just unveiled the first photos and plot details from the upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix, sequel to last year's X-Men: Apocalypse and continuation of the Professor X (James McAvoy), Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) stories introduced in X-Men: First Class.

Apocalypse earned nearly $600 million worldwide, but the blockbuster's 48% "rotten" made it the third worst received installment in the franchise (behind only X-Men: The Last Stand's 58% and X-Men Origins: Wolverine's 38%).

Longtime X-Men producer and writer Simon Kinberg told EW the newest outing — directed for the first time by Kinberg, who wrote and produced Apocalypse — will "refocus" the series.

"I think we took our eye off what has always been the bedrock of the franchise which is these characters," Kinberg said. "It became about global destruction and visual effects over emotion and character."

Kinberg takes over from Bryan Singer, who launched the franchise with 2000's X-Men and helmed followups X2, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Apocalypse. Kinberg admits Dark Phoenix was made with the flaws of its predecessor in mind, making for a dialed back and more grounded Phoenix.

"One of the things I went into this film wanting to do is obviously focus on the characters and give them real emotions to play and come up with a theme that would make it feel relevant and necessary in today's world," Kinberg added.

The writer-director explains his toned down and more realistic approach helped sell Fox on his idea.

"What I talked about with the performances and the photography and the visual effects is it needs to all feel organic and it needs to feel like it lives in our world to make it feel relevant again and not so heightened," he said.

Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix producer Hutch Parker acknowledges the comic book genre had evolved "aesthetically and tonally," and Apocalypse failed to adapt.

"There's a lot that I think is very good in the film but, as a whole, it was struggling to find ways to coalesce, narratively emotionally and in terms of plot," Parker noted. "Aesthetically, it felt sort of dated relative to an evolution you were seeing play out everywhere else. We learned a lot from that."

X-Men: Dark Phoenix, starring McAvoy, Fassbender, Lawrence, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Nicholas Hoult and Jessica Chastain, opens November 2, 2018.

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