Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg says it was the film's core cast - James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, and Jennifer Lawrence - who convinced the longtime X-Men movie producer to direct the film when Bryan Singer, who directed four X-Men movies, was not hired to return.
"We presumed the [X-Men: First Class] core cast — Fassbender, McAvoy Jennifer and Nic [Hoult] were coming back for this film," Kinberg told The Hollywood Reporter. "Part of the reason I presumed that was at the end of finishing X-Men: Apocalypse, when it was clear Bryan Singer was not going to direct the next movie, it was the actors that approached me about directing the next of the X-Men movies. Jennifer especially. Jen said she wouldn’t come back for another movie unless I directed it. So, I had a lot of support from them."
Kinberg also clarified that Disney's purchase of Fox - and the accompanying transfer of the X-Men film rights to Marvel Studios - were not factors in the film serving as an ending to the story of the X-Men.
"I feel as though the notion of this being the last of this cycle of X-Men movies is tied for a lot of people, at least in the industry, to the Disney-Fox merger," Kinberg explained. "In truth, when I sat down to write this movie, which was three years ago, I thought about it as the culmination of this cycle of X-Men movies."
In fact, Kinberg says, he's had minimal contact with Marvel Studios about the direction of the X-Men films, aside from the marketing of Dark Phoenix.
"The only thing we talked about in terms of Disney and Marvel was just how great the Disney marketing team is, because the only thing that has impacted Dark Phoenix from the Disney-Fox merger is the fact that the Disney team has become part of the marketing and publicity process," he continued. "They are really great and I've known the Disney guys for a while now. I produced Cinderella over there. I had a hand in helping out and working on a few of the Star Wars movies. I know them well and to see them up close in the marketing and publicity of the film is really impressive. It's a pretty historic run Kevin has had and Disney has had. I haven't had any talks with them formally about what their plan."
Dark Phoenix is due out in theaters June 7.