‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ recruits Oscar nominee as a villain, also finds a director

x men dark phoenix jessica chastain simon kinberg zero thirty

The year 2018 is going to be a big one for the X-Men cinematic universe, which just added some additional star power to one of the year’s most-anticipated mutant movies.

Two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain (The HelpZero Dark Thirty) is reportedly in talks to play the primary villain in X-Men: Dark Phoenix, the sequel to 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse. Chastain (pictured) is expected to play Lilandra, the leader of the alien empire known as the Shi’ar.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chastain is in early talks for the role, which would have her join returning cast members James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Alexandra Shipp, Tye Sheridan, and Kodi Smit-McPhee in the project.

Additionally, Deadline reports that veteran franchise writer and producer Simon Kinberg will make his directorial debut with Dark Phoenix. Kinberg has served as a writer or producer (and often both) on every installment of the X-Men series since 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, and has been one of the primary architects of the live-action X-Men universe over the last decade.

Chastain’s rumored role — and the title of the film — indicate that the movie will borrow heavily from the “Dark Phoenix Saga” story arc from Marvel Comics’ X-Men continuity. The film is expected to be set in the ’90s and feature Chastain’s character on a mission to find and eradicate the powerful entity known as the Phoenix Force, only to discover it within Jean Grey — the telepathic, telekinetic mutant played by Turner in Apocalypse.

In Marvel Comics lore, the Phoenix Force inhabited Jean Grey and enhanced her abilities exponentially, only to eventually corrupt her and put the entire world — and the greater galaxy, for that matter — in danger.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix is currently scheduled to hit theaters November 2, 2018. It will follow two other X-Men films arriving in theaters that year, with director Josh Boone’s New Mutants premiering April 13 and the Deadpool sequel scheduled for June 1.