How DARK PHOENIX Kills The X-MEN Franchise...And What Marvel Studios Must Do To Save It - SPOILERS

How DARK PHOENIX Kills The X-MEN Franchise...And What Marvel Studios Must Do To Save It - SPOILERS

If you saw Dark Phoenix last night, you'll be well aware that it's a terrible movie. Now, we take a look at how it kills the X-Men franchise and what Marvel Studios must do to bring it back to life...

Feature Opinion
By JoshWilding - Jun 07, 2019 05:06 AM EST
Filed Under: Dark Phoenix
Dark Phoenix is the worst-reviewed X-Men movie of all-time, and now looks set to be a major disappointment at the box office as well. Even if the Disney/Fox merger hadn't happened, it would still be a franchise killer that would have sent Fox back to the drawing board, but as things stand, we know Marvel Studios is planning to reboot the property for the MCU. 

That can't get here soon enough, but is Dark Phoenix really that bad? 

The short answer is "yes," but we're now taking a look at all the ways this movie screws up so badly that it leaves the X-Men franchise little more than a pile of ash needing to be resurrected, Phoenix style. With that in mind, we'll also delve into what Marvel Studios must now do to set things right and deliver the X-Men movie we've been waiting years to see.

So, to check out this breakdown in its entirety, simply click on the "View List" button below!

How Dark Phoenix Kills The Franchise

It Fails To Embrace The Source Material


You don't need me to tell you that Dark Phoenix isn't a faithful adaptation of "The Dark Phoenix Saga," but that's honestly the least of this movie's problems. Kinberg is probably patting himself on the back for including an obscure race of aliens from the comics, but it doesn't feel like he's read a single one of them based on how these characters are handled. 

While Marvel Studios has taken huge liberties with a number of beloved storylines, they still manage to stay true to the source material. Beast being able to switch between his human and blue forms is an insult to the character, while Kinberg ignoring the fact that Jean already has the Phoenix's powers before giving them to her again via a cloud of space dust is utter gobbledygook. 

The costumes may look familiar, but it's as if they're only used because they had to get them in the trailers because they completely disappear after the first act in preference for street clothes. 

The Cast Is Completely Wasted


Dark Phoenix boasts an amazing cast made up of names like Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Nicholas Hoult, and countless others. 

Unfortunately, not a single one of them delivers the sort of performance you might expect, and there's not a single moment that gives them the chance to stretch their acting abilities beyond delivering stilted lines in scenes where they might as well have signs hanging around their necks reading, "We're only here for the money."

Honestly, though, being saddled with this sort of material is enough to make even the world's best actors (and there are some contenders for that crown in Dark Phoenix) want to just phone it in. Using talent like this in such an underwhelming manner is nothing short of unforgivable. 

Retelling A Story For Only One Person's Benefit


Kinberg has been saying for a while now that he wanted to retell this story because he feels he dropped the ball with it in X-Men: The Last Stand, but since when is that a good reason to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a movie? What we get in Dark Phoenix really isn't that different to the 2006 version (he even deliberately adds some parallels), and this just comes across like a total ego trip.

Kinberg wanted to focus on "The Dark Phoenix Saga" in The Last Stand but was forced to add that subplot about "The Cure." Dark Phoenix is basically him finally getting the chance to do what he wanted and, well, the result are just as bad and arguably worse. 

If he'd had an idea to tell this story over a number of movies, that would have been something, but the second he saw the opportunity to jump in the director's chair and have control of this storyline, his ego clearly got the best of him and the results speak for themselves. 

The Same Old Mistakes


Marvel Studios is not perfect. They've made their fair share of mistakes over the years, but they learn from them. After Iron Man 2 was criticised for spending too much time setting up The Avengers, they cooled off on being so heavy handed when it came to teasing the MCU's future and when Thor came under fire time and time again, he got rebooted in the critically acclaimed Thor: Ragnarok.

Dark Phoenix does not learn from past mistakes and instead repeats ones we've seen in these X-Men movies on countless occasions. Important subplots are ignored, character motivations change to suit the story and not their actual personalities, and we get another of those endings (a tease about Jean surviving) you just know wouldn't have been followed up on in a satisfying manner.

Remember when Mystique was supposed to have "rescued" Wolverine from Weapon X? Just like that was dropped, I would put money on the next X-Men movie - had it happened - starting with Jean once again a member of the X-Men. It's just ridiculous. 

It Brings Nothing New To The Table


There are a lot of superheroe movies out there these days, so doing something new is no easy feat. However, just like Avengers: Endgame introduced time-travel to the genre and Aquaman utilised state of the art special effects to take us beneath the sea, Dark Phoenix could have easily gone down a far more exciting route. 

Well, despite introducing a cosmic element, Kinberg keeps the action squarely on Earth when he could have very easily delivered the first instalment of the franchise to take the heroes into space.

It would have been amazing to see the likes of Professor X and Cyclops in that setting, and he could have easily introduced the Starjammers (giving Scott a subplot about his missing father) and explored Jean's powers in a satisfying manner before setting the stage for her to turn "Dark." 

What Marvel Studios Needs To Do

A Fresh Take On The Franchise


This is going to be tough, but Marvel Studios will have to go back to the drawing board in order to deliver a version of the X-Men we haven't seen before. After all, pretty much every major team member has been featured on screen and we've seen both an established version of the group and an origin story for a much earlier iteration. 

Keeping things simple by putting the focus on the original five might be smart, especially as Angel and Iceman's screentime has been limited. However, it will still be tough to have Charles Xavier lead the team as the X-Mansion, Cerebro, and everything that entails is extremely familiar.

So, what if the "X-Men" are just a team of young mutants who come together to try and protect their people and aren't actually recruited by Professor X until a second or third movie? It would be a different approach, but one that would be something we obviously haven't seen before now. 

No More Magneto


I love Magneto. He's one of the Marvel Universe's greatest villains and there's a lot Marvel Studios could do with him, but the problem is that he's had a significant role in every single X-Men movie, and going back to that well (regardless of how great it would be to see a comic accurate version fighting the team) isn't going to excite the general audience. 

There are ways to include Magneto without repeating the past; what if it's him the X-Men are initially recruited by before realising he's a villain, for example? We could also meet him as a young man since that Holocaust survivor origin story won't work now as he would have to be an elderly man. Either way, it might just be best to save him for much further down the line. 

A Brand New Villain


So, if not Magneto, who should the X-Men square off with on the big screen? 

Well, Marvel Studios has a wealth of bad guys to choose from, including Mister Sinister, Cassandra Nova, Proteus, Sabretooth, Apocalypse (who desperately needs to be rebooted), and countless others. Given their habit of making over classic villains in inventive new ways, we could even see someone like Onslaught, and Mojo would be a brilliant, unexpected choice. 

In recent years, Kevin Feige has made a great deal of effort to escape those criticisms about underwhelming foes for our favourite heroes, and I'm sure they could nail any one of these baddies. 

Make Every Mutant Count


There are a long list of X-Men characters we all want to see Marvel Studios do justice on screen, but it would be silly to introduce too many of them too soon. That's going to disappoint some fans (especially if we only get the original five and a handful of cameos) but it's essential that every mutant count this time around as that's not been the case on Fox's watch.

Professor X's school is full of regular looking kids who are supposedly mutants, and I've lost count of how many X-Men and members of Magneto's Brotherhood who have been glorified background extras.

Remember Toad? The original Sabretooth? Pyro? Iceman? The prevailing theme there is that they're all great characters who weren't given the spotlight they deserve because they were only included for a cool action scene or in a bid to appease fans wanting to see their favourite characters on screen.

Don't Go Anywhere Near Simon Kinberg


Dear God, can you imagine? Kinberg reportedly has some sort of deal where he'll receive a producing credit on any future X-Men projects, but there's no way Marvel Studios could be foolish enough to bring him back on board the franchise, especially after Dark Phoenix has crashed and burned. 

After helming this mess of a movie, having him anywhere near these characters would be a horrible mistake as he's proved numerous times that he doesn't understand them. Luckily, common sense says that Feige will turn to a new creative team for the next iteration of the X-Men, while carefully overseeing this reboot to make sure they're done right. 

As for Kinberg, he shouldn't be allowed to touch another major franchise ever again. 

Continue reading below for a recap of Dark Phoenix's
plot (we watched it so you don't have to).


Jean Grey's Origin Story


The movie kicks off with a flashback to Jean Grey's childhood and, well, the lesson here is that you should always let your child listen to what they want on the radio! Sick of her parents' taste in music, Jean inadvertently uses her newly emerged powers to change the station and is suddenly overwhelmed to the point where she knocks her mother out and causes the car to crash. 

Jean is unharmed, and then meets Charles Xavier who promptly recruits her to join his school.

Later on in the movie, the "big" twist comes when we learn that while her mother died, Jean's father is still alive. However, he told Professor X to take her away as he couldn't deal with what she'd done and this revelation (which really doesn't seem like that big of a deal) is what pushes her over the edge.



Before that happens, though, we get to see the X-Men travel into outer space. Despite the fact that Hank told Charles that the X-Jet isn't suited for that journey, it somehow still has oxygen in it for them to breathe while they attempt to rescue a number of astronauts. 

Jean holds their ship together while Nightcrawler rescues the Captain and uses her powers to redirect a huge cloud of energy (Galactus style, baby) into herself to save her teammates. She manages to survive this and is taken back to Earth where it's revealed that her power levels are off the charts. 

Despite us seeing Jean become Phoenix in X-Men: Apocalypse, this cloud is identified as a cosmic force and seemingly the actual Phoenix, which obviously makes absolutely no sense. 

The D'Bari


It's not made entirely clear whether Jessica Chastain's shapeshifting alien is part of this race, but the aliens she works with throughout the course of Dark Phoenix are identified as the D'Bari. In the comics, their planet was destroyed by the Phoenix Force during "The Dark Phoenix Saga" and they now want to make Earth their new home by unleashing that power themselves. 

As for why Chastain's unnamed character looks the way she does, it's because she lands on Earth and stumbles across a woman hosting a party whose identity she then decides to randomly adopt.

Mystique's Death


Mystique expresses her frustrations with Charles for embracing the fame that's come with leading the X-Men (they're now celebrated by the public and he has a direct line with the President) and wants to leave the team alongside Beast after discovering the way he lied to Jean. 

However, with Jean losing control and setting off to find the father she thought was dead, the X-Men confront her at her family home. As Raven tries to talk her down, Charles uses his powers to stop Beast from hitting Jean with a tranquilliser and when she once again loses control, the shape-shifting mutant winds up being impaled on a fence. What a way to go! 

Anyway, she then dies in Beast's arms, and he's understandably furious with the Professor.



Magneto's new home is never referred to by name but it's clearly meant to be Genosha, as it's an island given to the mutants by the government. However, it ends up just being a field with a couple of huts and is hardly the impressive utopia from the comic books.

Jean visits Erik, causes a stir with the military, and is then told to leave. 

Later, Beast arrives and tells Magneto that Jean is responsible for killing Raven, something that leads to an unexpected team-up between them as they agree to take her down once and for all. 

The Alien's Plan


Alien (what else are we going to call her?) tracks down Jean and manages to explain what she hopes to use the mutant's newfound powers for. The villain was pursuing the Phoenix Force - which is never referred to as such - throughout the cosmos in the hope of using it to reignite the planet it destroyed, and she explains to Jean that she can now do that...she just has to kill all of her friends. 

That really doesn't make much sense, but nothing about this character does to be perfectly honest!

Battle In New York


The X-Men learn that Magneto's Brotherhood (well, him, Beast, and two random mutants with a handful of lines between them) is heading to New York to kill Jean and what follows is a surprisingly cool battle between the characters. Sadly, none of them are in costume and that's bound to disappoint fans. 

Charles ultimately manages to get a face to face with Jean, but only after she comically uses her powers to make him "walk" up the stairs in the building she's staying in. Seconds before she kills him, he manages to remind her of the conversation they had years before and that's when Alien suggests she transfer the Phoenix into her. 

This process will kill Jean, though, and when Charles realises that the villain simply wants to wipe out all life on Earth to make it her own, he manages to get Cyclops to stop her. Unfortunately, all of the team is then captured by the government and put on a train to a mutant internment camp. 

An Epic Final Battle


The aliens attack the train and what follows is an awesome, action-packed battle between them and the X-Men. Highlights include Nightcrawler teleporting one of them in front of the moving train, Magneto using dozens of guns against Alien, and Cyclops finally being something of a badass. 

Ultimately, it comes down to just Alien and Jean and the train then derails for the final confrontation between these two as the X-Woman uses her powers to turn the attacking bad guys to ash. 

Jean Vs. Alien


Alien once again tries to take the Phoenix Force from Jean, but fails horribly and is flown into space by the hero where they both vanish in a fiery explosion. There's no tearful goodbye with Scott but she does nod at Charles before leaving and, well, that's it. 

The shape of the Phoenix is left in the aftermath, but it's the shot we saw in that trailer where it transitioned into the title so it doesn't have a particularly lasting impact as it's already been shown.

The Closing Montage


Dark Phoenix immediately jumps into a closing montage where we see Scott Summers rename the the school after Jean Grey, Quicksilver is hanging around after presumably being left comatose after that early battle with the Phoenix, and Beast is now the headmaster with an almost comical looking promotional photo of Mystique on his desk. 

Charles, meanwhile, has retired and is now living in Paris, France and looking rather miserable. 

It's then that Magneto appears and offers him a new home and a game of chess. Charles seemingly accepts and as the camera pans up to the sky, we see the Phoenix flying overhead. Jean lives!
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Nightwing1015 - 6/7/2019, 5:44 AM
It would've been cool to see Professor X killing the X-Men in the final film in the series. A sort of prequel to Logan.
LNBfett12 - 6/7/2019, 5:49 AM
@Nightwing1015 - Holy crap! This WOULD have been awesome!
DwightKGroot - 6/7/2019, 6:27 AM
@Nightwing1015 - How would that make any sense? Charles killing everyone would NOT lead into Logan, as Logan in this timeline is not the same one as the one in the previous timeline. He probably doesn't even know Charles and would just be captured and experimented on.

Nothing in this franchise makes sense because they ignore what happened before.
Nightwing1015 - 6/7/2019, 6:37 AM
@DwightKGroot - No you don't understand. Logan the film IS in the new timeline. There's only 2 timelines. Before DOFP and after DOFP. Every film after DOFP takes place in the new timeline.
Sickness1985 - 6/7/2019, 5:44 AM
When this comes out to rent at the library I will watch it. The trailers and what I read online sounds like it was boring and lazy.
Humperdink - 6/7/2019, 11:52 AM
@Sickness1985 -

Same. I couldn't be bothered to make much effort to see this and Kinberg should feel ashamed of how him and FOX let egos and hacks run this franchise into the ground.
IronMandarin - 6/7/2019, 5:47 AM
"What Marvel Studios Must Do To Save It"

Sickness1985 - 6/7/2019, 5:51 AM
@IronMandarin - is marvel waiting until 2024 or something like that for x men movie?
IronMandarin - 6/7/2019, 6:23 AM
@Sickness1985 - Kevin Feige said 5 years if I recall correctly.

I would say they should bench the X-men for even longer to put as much distance between them and Dark Phoenix as possible. Fantastic 4 on the other hand they might want to attempt much sooner.
MetalFaceDoom - 6/7/2019, 5:53 AM
I'll tell you what marvel studios needs to do to save it.......not do anything with it for atleast 5 years. Let this bad taste get out of everyone's mouth. There should be no rush to make any new xmen movie.
DiegoMD - 6/7/2019, 7:04 AM
@MetalFaceDoom - what bad taste? Most people are not going to watch this film, so there's going to be any kind of bad taste in people's mouth.
tmp3 - 6/7/2019, 5:53 AM
How to fix it? I don't know, get a good script and a good director involved? The last mainline X-Men movie before Phoenix (Logan) got an Oscar nomination for best screenplay, and is considered one of the best in the genre. All Marvel has to do is get a good creative team and they're set to go.
Sickness1985 - 6/7/2019, 5:56 AM
@tmp3 - and get some cast members who seem like they want to be there..
tmp3 - 6/7/2019, 5:58 AM
@Sickness1985 - The First Class cast were great in the first two films imo. Fassbender and McAvoy especially
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