Jennifer Lawrence has finally taken over the 'X-Men' franchise

Jennifer Lawrence X Men20th Century FoxJennifer Lawrence in ‘X-Men.’

The final trailer for “X-Men: Apocalypse” dropped yesterday, and while the reveal of Wolverine might’ve been the biggest takeaway, only his be-clawed arm made it into the preview. The rest of the trailer was pretty much a Jennifer Lawrence clip reel, who seems to have taken over the franchise. Transforming like her shape-changing character, Mystique, Lawrence evolved from supporting role to first-billed megastar. 

When she was originally cast in “X-Men: First Class,” the fifth instalment in the superhero franchise, she was neither America’s sweetheart nor the reaction .GIF queen she is today. She had only a handful of film credits to her name before 2010, when she broke out in the independent drama “Winter’s Bone.” “First Class” went into production just a few months later, and by the time it premiered in 2011 Lawrence was a promising, rising star, but relegated to a supporting role behind Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, and Kevin Bacon.

The very next year, however, Lawrence catapulted to blockbuster stardom with “The Hunger Games,” and netted herself a Best Actress Oscar for “Silver Linings Playbook.” By the time “X-Men: Days of Future Past” came out in 2014, she’d star in another “Hunger Games” sequel and snag her third Best Actress nomination 

The producers at 20th Century Fox were presumably thrilled to have signed Lawrence to a three-picture deal before she became one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, and capitalising on her fame seemed only natural. Thus, her importance to the plot of the franchise has grown along with her stardom. In the first film, she served as more of a moral compass, torn between Professor X and Magneto’s dueling philosophies, but she became more crucial to the story in “Days of Future Past.” The only person bigger than her on the poster is Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, though it’s worth noting that he’s forced to go back in time to prevent her blood from powering a dystopian line of robots out to end the mutant race. 

The marketing of the latest movie, due out on May 27th, has featured Lawrence heavily, and the final trailer paints her as the unquestionable protagonist. After Professor X is kidnapped by Oscar Isaac’s supremely powerful Apocalypse, it’s up to Mystique to rally the troops and bring the X-Men to victory, never mind that she’s usually more of a villain than a hero.

As her plot-importance and screen-time seemingly grew to match her fame, the blue makeup obscuring her marketable face receded. While Mystique learned a big lesson when she accepted her true blue form at the end of “First Class,” she seems to have forgotten it. In “Days of Future Past” the blue makeup was ditched as she frequently needed to look inconspicuous, but based off of trailers in which Lawrence looks like herself, “Apocalypse” is largely giving up on that pretense, and just letting Lawrence be Lawrence. It makes sense: if your character can look like anybody, then, well, why wouldn’t you want them to look like the biggest movie star in the world?

“Apocalypse” might very well be Lawrence’s last turn as Mystique, and it looks like Fox has made the most of her.

Who’s going to be the next breakout star on the X-Men’s uncanny roster? The latest trailer’s preview image focuses on Jean Grey, played by Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark from “Game of Thrones”). Maybe by the 12th movie, she’ll be the lead. But until then, Lawrence remains the most powerful — and profitable — mutant around.

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