Next year will see a record number of superhero films hit the box office, and there are two superhero movies in particular that have a surprising amount in common: Captain Marvel and Dark Phoenix. On the face of it, these two movies should be very different; after all, Captain Marvel will launch a whole new franchise within the MCU, while Dark Phoenix is expected to be the final tentpole X-Men film produced by Fox.
Over the last fortnight, we've finally been given first trailers for both films. Captain Marvel's trailer confirmed a host of popular theories, revealing Carol Danvers as a Kree special ops soldier who comes plummeting to Earth when her spaceship is shot down. In contrast, Dark Phoenix's first trailer was a dark and grounded affair that promised to explore the secret history of Jean Grey.
On the surface, these two movies are totally different. Dig a little deeper, though, and there are some very odd similarities. Here, we're going to take a look at them.
- This Page: Movie Settings and Main Characters
- Page 2: Skrulls, Release Date Changes, and More
Both Movies are Set in the 1990s
The first striking similarity between Captain Marvel and Dark Phoenix is the fact that both are period pieces, set in the 1990s. That seems to have always been integral to Dark Phoenix; Simon Kinberg confirmed the film's setting as far back as May 2016, long before the title had even been officially confirmed. A '90s setting is particularly appropriate for an X-Men movie, given that was the decade where the X-Men comics flourished the most. In fact, the best-selling comic book of all time was 1991's X-Men #1, which sold 7.1 million copies. As the '90s progressed, the X-Men became Marvel's foremost superhero franchise, as well as the stars of an unforgettable animated series.
There were also clear story reasons for placing Dark Phoenix in the '90s. The X-Men films have always tended to jump around the timeline, but this is a direct sequel to X-Men: Apocalypse, which was set in the '80s and followed movies set in the '60s and '70s. As such, it makes sense for the franchise to jump forward by ten years or so.
More surprisingly, though, Captain Marvel is based in the same decade. Marvel announced that at SDCC 2017, although Kevin Feige has confirmed that was the plan from early on in the film's development process. Captain Marvel appears to serve as a back-door origin story for popular characters like Nick Fury and Phil Coulson, as well as establishing a powerful new superhero in the history of the MCU.
Both Are Female-Led Superhero Films
Hollywood studios had long believed that female-led superhero films were guaranteed to fail, pointing to flops like Catwoman and Elektra as evidence. But the success of Wonder Woman absolutely shattered that particular glass ceiling, and now film studios are pushing their female heroes like never before. For Captain Marvel, it's definitely a matter of "It's about time" - in fact, it's frankly a little disappointing that it has taken Marvel Studios more than a decade to release a solo superhero flick that stars a female hero.
The X-Men comics have always been noted for their strong female characters, ranging from the weather-manipulating Storm to the young and vibrant Kitty Pryde. As such it's no surprise that Fox is choosing to embrace the idea of female superheroes, but the way the studio is doing it is very interesting. The next X-Men tentpole movie has essentially transformed into a character piece dedicated to Sophie Turner's Jean Grey, who up until now has always been part of an ensemble. Fox has even dropped "X-Men" from the film's title., giving it the feel of a standalone movie like Logan, even though it will feature the usual X-Men team.
Both Characters Have Hidden Power
Captain Marvel and Jean Grey both number among the most powerful superheroes ever to hit the big screen - but in both cases the true extent of their abilities appears to be concealed. According to the trailer for Dark Phoenix, Jean arrived at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters filled with pain and grief. Sensing her power, and fearful that she'd become dangerous if she lacked emotional self-control, Xavier locked her mind up. The process of breaking those restraints began in X-Men: Apocalypse, and appears to continue in Dark Phoenix when Jean is exposed to a cosmic force.
In the case of Carol Danvers, the trailer suggests that she'll ultimately tap into what's sometimes called her "Binary" powerset. In the comics, Carol was experimented upon by an alien race known as the Brood, and her powers were amplified far beyond the norm; she gained the ability to drawn upon the energy of a so-called "White Hole," manipulating energy on an unprecedented scale. The last shot in the Captain Marvel trailer is definitely evocative of that particular powerset. It's likely from the film's third act, with Carol drawing on reserves of power that aren't even hinted at elsewhere in the trailer.
Strangely enough, the leaked Dark Phoenix trailer even ended with a shot of Jean Grey's eyes glowing that was almost identical to a shot in the Captain Marvel trailer when Carol's Binary powers are unleashed. And the similarities don't end there.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
- New Mutants (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020