Is the band — rather, the group of super-powered genetic mutations — getting back together? We've known for a few weeks about Patrick Stewart's ambiguity toward whether he'd be making a reappearance as Professor Xavier in "X-Men: Days of Future Past," rumors that gained a little more traction in recent weeks.
Now, there may be more coming: Speaking with MTV News, Famke Janssen — a.k.a. Jean Grey, the Phoenix — teased the possibility of her return, despite the fact that she was technically killed at the end of "X-Men: The Last Stand."
"One never knows," she said. "Jean Grey, the Phoenix … she finds a way to reincarnate herself constantly, so one never knows."
(A brief addendum: If this was just complete teasing altogether on Janssen's part, and if the possibility of her coming back hasn't even been raised by anyone working on "Days of Future Past," then… well, shame on her for knowing so well what gets comics fans all riled up.)
So: How would this work, exactly? As I mentioned, Jean was killed at the end of "The Last Stand" when Wolverine stabbed her to save her from herself, then let out the most emotive "No!" since Darth Vader. (Kidding! Hugh Jackman is a fine actor.) Plus, "Days of Future Past" is almost certainly not going to take place in the present of the old "X-Men" films, which means any Jean we'd see would be a younger edition (thus negating Janssen's involvement), or something… weirder.
How weird? One of the coolest versions of the Phoenix Force depicts it as a generation-spanning collective through which dozens of characters, some familiar and some not, have become a conduit. (The example that comes to mind is from the end of Grant Morrison's legendary run on "New X-Men," in which none other than Jean shows up to re-orient the past.) Under this idea, Janssen could show up as a sort of external spectator of all that's happened, and all that will happen again — especially if the wonkier time-traveling elements of "Days of Future Past" are put into effect. Her inclusion could also be a way to foreshadow some reconciliation of the dual timelines, which would inevitably come to fruition in 2017's "X-Men Universe," or something similar.
If you're looking for connective tissue between universes, there are worse ways than by utilizing the one character who's literally omnipotent. (Wolverine will be very long-lived, but it's hard to imagine he'd have anything more insightful to say about the mutant race than "Give me a beer.") Janssen's reliably steely visage could be used to infuse a sense of grandeur to the proceedings, as though the mutant conflict were the American Revolution. And hey, why not?
Dedicated readers will note that I've expressed ambivalence about bringing it all back home; those original "X-Men" movies came a long time ago, and if you're going to break with the past, then make it a clean split. (Getting stuck in the middle has turned a lot of superhero films, such as "Superman Returns" and "The Incredible Hulk," into creatures of mediocrity.) I'd rather see something completely new and crazy, rather than a film that attempts to sew up emotional loose ends that don't really need sealing. (It's not like the original "X-Men" cast is remembered as fondly as, say, the crew of Captain Kirk's Enterprise.) But Janssen's comments, along with Stewart's, seem to evince the inevitability of such a direction — in which case I say, hey, go ahead. Better to go with the flow than carp about what should or could be, as though we won't eagerly suck down whatever comes out if it seems pretty cool.
So rest assured, Bryan Singer and company! You've got this blogger's approval. All may proceed as planned.
This Mutant Life explores all corners of the cinematic X-verse, from the kids of "First Class" to the berserker rage of "The Wolverine." Suggest topics for future columns in the comments or on Twitter!
Previously on This Mutant Life: