In all honesty, I didn’t have much hope when I heard that “Dark Phoenix” was going to be the next X-Men movie. Dark Phoenix and Days of Future Past were easily the best comics stories in the X-Men lexicon. The Dark Phoenix Saga has been redone to death in the various X-Men animated incarnations so why did they have to return to a more than used retread?
Ever since the ending of “X-Men: Apocalypse,” after watching Jean Grey defeat the powerful mutant, I’ve had some dark thoughts.
Are they doing “Dark Phoenix” too soon? Are they doing “Dark Phoenix” again? Hasn’t Fox learned its lesson after “X-Men: The Last Stand?” Heck, even the First Class team even made fun of that film. Of all the tons of source material within the X-Men lore, they had to go with Dark Phoenix.
Why not tackle Mr. Sinister? Why not tackle The Brood? Freedom Force? The Marauders? The Purifiers? Calisto and the Morlocks? They had to go with Dark Phoenix. Spoiler alert before reading on. But I’m sure most X-Men fans have seen this so you can understand where I’m coming from. This isn’t just an excuse to dump on the film. It’s just my frustration coming out when you know they knew better. Even Collider ranked it third from the worst X-Men films and that 23 percent Rotten Tomatoes score was earned. Theaters are already pulling it after it had the second worst Friday dropoff in superhero movie history.
It’s not hard to blame them. Maybe the second time’s the charm for one of the most interesting X-Men storylines not to mention the most interesting character. I technically fell in love with Dark Phoenix in Uncanny X-Men 175 (actually X-Men Classics which I forgot the number) which is one of my first Marvel comic books which I bought upon seeing on a bookstore shelf–after seeing the character on a 90s Marvel card. In the comic, I’ve seen her beautiful costume (I love dark red mixed with gold) and her raw power (being able to blow up Avengers Mansion), even though she was a fake made up by the villain Mastermind. I read the actual Phoenix storyline later on and saw its updated version in the X-Men animated series. There’s really no problem with Fox trying to catch the magic of the storyline. The problem was going at it too soon and going at it half-assed. If there’s anything to learn from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Apocalypse would be Phase 1 and Dark Phoenix would be Phase 2.
I’ll leave the purist point of view for a while and see the film as part of a separate universe cooked up by Director Simon Kinberg and others at Fox. The film is a simple, entertaining popcorn flick with plenty of action, plenty of drama and decent effects. The plot is a bit simplistic and similar to another film which up to now I can’t put my finger on. The plot point where fame gets into Xavier’s head as his X-Men have become popular. The second half of the plot point is where Jean goes dark. The third plot point is a covert alien invasion by shapeshifting aliens who were supposed to be the Skrulls (featured in the recent Captain Marvel). Fox got the outer space involvement part right at least.
Magneto meanwhile just got shoehorned in and actually did the opposite of what he did in “X-Men: The Last Stand.” Magneto turned Jean away while he adopted her in The Last Stand. Yes. Spoilers. It’s been weeks anyway. The difference here is that Jean had no rhyme or reason to her motives in The Last Stand. There wasn’t even any redemption. While here, she’s a scared little girl who felt betrayed and later sacrificed herself in the end.
What possessed Jean?
It’s a bit unclear in this film if the weird entity that possessed Jean was the Phoenix Force itself or something else that made Phoenix-empowered Jean go unstable. If it was the Phoenix Force, they just gave the series a massive plot hole as Jean was already the Phoenix in “X-Men: Apocalypse.” Surprise, surprise, another staple of this convoluted film franchise. Imagine their success if Fox did it right.? Anyway, if the force was not the Phoenix Force, it’s okay. But we’ve never been told in the film what it was exactly, just that the aliens considered it a powerful force that destroyed their planet (couldn’t help but be reminded of another cloud that destroys planets). But the aliens want to harness it anyway. Weird motivation.
Plus, two major characters die in this film which completely ruins whatever timelines the original “X-Men” or “Days of Future Past” have set up. I have always hated this franchise for the convolution. It’s almost like every film after X2 stands alone and are not sequels.
Overall, the “Dark Phoenix” film was okay but forgettable. As forgettable as “X-Men Apocalypse,” even less so. As I’ve said before, we’re all curious at how our favorite mutants would look and work on the big screen, which is why despite my dislike of this film franchise, I still see it (“Deadpool” and “Logan” were great though). However, there was no hope with this one from the start. I mainly watched it out of curiosity with that overwhelming need to pour my thoughts out later on. I think it will be a long time before another X-Men reboot kicks in though. I’m praying that’s the case, at least.