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How X-Men First Class director Matthew Vaughn hoped to get to Dark Phoenix

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The Rocketman producer on what he thought would come after his X-Men reboot

dark phoenix poster sophieturner as dark phoenix 20th Century Fox

Dark Phoenix arrives this June, wrapping up one of the bumpier sagas in superhero movie history. The X-Men saw critically lauded installments (X2) and colossal failures (X-Men: Origins - Wolverine), and thanks to time travel and logic leaping, managed to weather every storm through a single continuity. That doesn’t mean there weren’t attempts at rejiggering the formula: There’d be no Dark Phoenix without 2011’s X-Men: First Class, the reboot-until-it-wasn’t.

Though First Class brought on a new cast of actors as younger versions of characters audiences were already familiar with, and shifted the action to the ’60s to boot, the major departure earned the film a positive reception, which ... wasn’t a thread that’s been maintained by the sequels that followed. What happened?

During the Rocketman press tour, Polygon caught up with First Class director Matthew Vaughn, and asked if, when taking on First Class, he’d had any conception of the road the franchise would eventually take.

If he had had his way, the director explained, X-Men: Days of Future Past (for which Vaughn worked on the story) would have been the third movie in a trilogy begun by First Class, with a second film introducing a young Wolverine in the 1970s slotted in between the two. The story in Days of Future Past was “big” for a second film, Vaughn said, and it’s difficult to argue with that assessment given how big X-Men: Apocalypse had to go in order to feel like an escalation from Days of Future Past.

Vaughn also said that he would have told Jean Grey’s story over three films leading up to Dark Phoenix, as well. “It’s arguably the biggest story in X-Men,” he mused, before couching his previous thoughts in the context that he had yet to see Dark Phoenix.

Dark Phoenix hits theaters on June 9.