This article is loaded with ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ spoilers. You know the drill.
Last night I saw X-Men: Apocalypse, and if I went into the theater feeling surprisingly optimistic considering the reviews, the third film in the current trilogy not only exceeded my expectations, but also gave us something many X-Men fans have been waiting on for 16 years: a Jean Grey worthy of one of the great heroines in Marvel Comics history.
Reviewers have been critical of the characterization found (or lacking) in Simon Kinberg’s script, but Sophie Turner has more to work with here than Famke Janssen ever did. Turner’s youthful take on Jean Grey is imbued with a sense of fear — fear of the future, fear of her own power — but also a sense of humor and charm.
In one scene shared with Wolverine at William Stryker’s Weapon X facility, Jean puts her hand to Logan’s face and restores (some part of) his memory. The moment, though brief, is intense, channeling both characters’ shared romantic history in the first trilogy, but approached from a platonic angle which redresses the age gap. The takeaway is that this Jean Grey has a mature head on her young shoulders.
At times, usually when Oscar Isaac’s villain is on screen, Apocalypse veers dangerously close to being an overcooked CGI mess, but one scene during the climactic battle which pits X-Men versus Horsemen stands out as the clear highlight of the entire movie, and the telekinetic redhead is right at the heart of it.
Xavier and Apocalypse, sharing a connection which allows the Professor to get inside the mind of the ancient mutant, engage in a mental battle which is brought to life in a pretty astonishing visual way. Charles, overpowered by Apocalypse, begs Jean to access and channel the full extent of her powers, a complete U-turn on his fundamental belief that powers should be controlled.
Digging deep, Jean takes a step off the ledge of a crumbling building and remains suspended in mid-air. Looking down on Apocalypse, she unleashes all hell, truly letting go and finding powers hidden deep within to stun En Sabah Nur, who has no response and finds himself crumbling to dust.
To say she kills this scene would be a major understatement, and at this moment, as Grey completes a superb character arc by finally accessing her full potential, you realize that Sophie Turner quite simply is Jean Grey.
If the rumors of Fox and Singer taking a second shot at the Dark Phoenix saga do play out on screen, you’d bet on them getting it right this time. For Sophie Turner — so good as Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones — Jean Grey could be the role which really sends her stratospheric — and for X-Men fans, this is something that’s been 16 years in the making.