20th Century Fox is close to signing Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain for villain duties in their forthcoming X-Men: Dark Pheonix. Multiple sources have claimed that Chastain will be playing "Lilandra, the empress of an alien empire called the Shi'ar, who leads the quest to imprison and execute Dark Phoenix, sending her into conflict with the X-Men."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox has officially closed deals for the return of Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult after their three picture contracts expired after last summer's Apocalypse. Also returning from the Apocalypse are Alexandra Shipp, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Sophie Turner who will reprise her role as Jean Grey and her Dark Pheonix alter-ego.
Bryan Singer recently passed the X-Men torch to writer/producer Simon Kinberg who is expected to make his directorial debut with Dark Pheonix. Singer helmed the first two X-Men movies before departing the franchise to direct Superman Returns. Singer returned to the fold as a producer and writer for X-Men: First Class for director Matthew Vaughn before resuming directing duties for Days of Future Past and Apocalypse.
The Dark Pheonix story was previously adapted for X-Men: The Last Stand, well, I say adapted but horribly mangled is a far more accurate way to describe what transpired. Ever since then, X-Men fans have been hoping that the cinematic universe will deliver a worthy take on the epic story arc. Thanks for Singer's franchise reset Days of Future Past, the events of The Last Stand no longer happened (sadly we can't erase it from our minds). I think I speak for most X-Men fans when I say Apocalypse was a backward step after the highs of Days of Future Past, hopefully, Dark Pheonix can get the main franchise back on track.