Jessica Chastain Confirmed as Lilandra in 'X-Men: Dark Phoenix'

Wednesday, 02 August 2017 - 10:46AM
Marvel
X-Men
Wednesday, 02 August 2017 - 10:46AM
Jessica Chastain Confirmed as Lilandra in 'X-Men: Dark Phoenix'
Image credit: Marvel Comics
Fox has officially found Charles Xavier's alien love interest. When X-Men: Dark Phoenix was original announced, it was stated that Jessica Chastain was in talks to play the movie's antagonist, Lilandra Neramani, empress of the Shi'ar Empire, when Professor X and his favorite batch of genetic freaks and geeks burst off from planet Earth to explore the furthest reaches of space. Now, Chastain has confirmed that she'll be appearing in the movie, and seems primarily excited by the chance to work closely with (and mercilessly bully) James McAvoy.

Hey @jamesmcavoyrealdeal you ready for me up in Montreal? Im gonna make you cry so hard ? #xmen @simondavidkinberg

A post shared by Jessica Chastain (@jessicachastain) on




It's not clear whether Chastain's promise to "make [McAvoy] cry so hard" refers to an element of the script, or whether she simply plans to mock him mercilessly between takes, but here's hoping she does a little of both.

If there's a downside to Chastain taking on the role of Lilandra, it's that she probably won't also be able to play Batgirl in Joss Whedon's upcoming DCEU movie, but it doesn't seem that this was DC's plan anyway, so no real harm done. In reality, this is a fantastic boon for the X-Men franchise, since Fox needs a strong actor with a great screen presence when bringing to life a character that's as outlandish and otherworldly as Lilandra.

It's worth assuming that, as in the comics, Lilandra won't be a pure villain in this movie. Half the point of showing her in a film is getting the chance to give Charles Xavier a powerful romantic subplot to his character arc. In the years since the Shi'ar were introduced into the X-Men comic canon, the Lilandra/Xavier coupling (Lilavier? Xandra?) is one of the most enduring elements from the X-Men's time in space (alongside a time-traveling Cyclops deciding to go live in a spaceship with his outlaw pirate father, because comics are weird).

A believable Lilandra/Xavier relationship is exceptionally important to Dark Phoenix in general, as otherwise the movie faces the danger of becoming too silly and disconnected from reality. X-Men movies are always best when they're more about characters than spectacle, and the enticing outer space setting for this movie could easily end up hurting the film if audiences don't feel like their favorite X-Men are interacting together in an organic fashion.

One way or another, Chastain will be the glue that holds Dark Phoenix together, so it's fantastic news that the acclaimed Interstellar actor is on board with the film, and will be making James McAvoy cry in any way she sees fit.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix hits US theaters November 2nd, 2018.
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