Warning: SPOILERS for Dark Phoenix
The time has finally comes. With the release of Dark Phoenix, the entire age of Fox's X-Men movies has come to an end, with the rights to the comic book mutants now returning to Marvel Studios. But before this X-Men series is over, the filmmakers have packed a brand new batch of Easter eggs, franchise callbacks, geeky inside jokes, and comic book references into Jean Grey's big adventure.
The future of the X-Men has never been less clear, with audiences wondering how the X-Men will be used in the MCU. In a perfect world, the property's return to Marvel would be cause for celebration, finally telling what mean comic fans believe to be one of the best stories in Marvel history: the Dark Phoenix Saga. Unfortunately, the world has different plans for the X-Men universe's last chapter. Dark Phoenix is currently the most "rotten" X-Men adventure, but we doubt the most devoted fans will care. They'll be too busy honoring the end of an era by searching for the love letters hidden within the movie for only the die-hard to find. We've collected the very best Dark Phoenix Easter eggs, secrets, inside jokes, and huge Marvel references fans may have missed - and are breaking them all down here.
So with one final SPOILER warning, let's get started. Here's our breakdown of Dark Phoenix: Every X-Men & Marvel Easter Egg You Missed.
15. The 'X' in The Logo Goes Phoenix
The seasoned X-Men fans know that one of the subtlest Easter Eggs actually comes before the movie even begins, thanks to the 20th Century Fox title card. The music and animation are all exactly the same as any other Fox movie, with the exception of the "X" remaining illuminated for a split second, after the rest of the logo fades to black.
The tradition is kept alive with Dark Phoenix, even if it doesn't bear "X-Men" in its official title--with an added twist. Instead of simply remaining lit as a pale yellow, the screen fades to black... revealing the "X" blazing in red hot energy. It's a nod to the Phoenix Force that soon bonds with Jean Grey, and since this final X-Men universe story is all hers, it's totally fitting.
14. Jean Grey's Narration
It's hard to imagine a time before the world wasn't familiar with the Marvel superheroes known as "X-Men," or even the idea of costumed heroes getting their powers from mutation. And so, when the first X-Men film opened, it was actor Patrick Stewart who introduced the world to the concept through voiceover. Over the subsequent movies he would continue the role, before ultimately passing it on to Jean Grey. Dark Phoenix provides the link back to the beginning, having Jean offer the same narration to begin this chapter.
Mutants. Since the discovery of their existence they have been regarded with fear, suspicion, often hatred. Across the planet, debate rages. Are mutants the next link in the evolutionary chain or simply a new species of humanity fighting for their share of the world? Either way it is a historical fact: Sharing the world has never been humanity's defining attribute.
13. The Music is Actually a Warning?
Comic book movie fans are used to looking for clues to the plot and characters in the film's official soundtrack. But Dark Phoenix goes one step further, alluding to the events in the movie itself. At an early point in the film a song plays over the radio that causes Jean Grey to want to change the station. But both the song playing, and the one she changes it to have serious implications on the plot.
The first song to play is "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" written by Jimmy Webb and made famous by singer Glen Campbell (not too shocking that the 1960s hit would lack some fans in the 1990s). The obvious allusion to the approach of the Phoenix Force doesn't end there, though. The song the radio is changed to is Warron Zevon's "Werewolves of London," once again drawing parallel between Jean Grey and the monster she becomes (with its piano riff now known for Kid Rock's "All Summer Long").
12. Dazzler Finally Joins The X-Men Universe
It isn't all that important for movie fans to recognize the singer at the forest party for the mutant kids, but most viewers will want to know why her appearance is sure to send other audience members squealing with delight. Her name is "Dazzler," and she is a pop icon in the world of Marvel's mutants.
Funny enough, it was previously rumored that Taylor Swift would play Dazzler in X-Men: Apocalypse, in what was expected to be a cameo role (no bigger than the appearance of Dazzler here). Much of that excitement originated in the above photo, teasing Dazzler's existence in the X-Men timeline. Finally, it all pays off.
11. The Survivors of 'The First Class'
Prior to the film's release, director Simon Kinberg explained that he would be cutting out much of the original "Dark Phoenix" comic story, instead focusing on the stories and character arcs started with X-Men: First Class. But most viewers are likely to forget just how disastrous Charles Xavier's mission really turned out to be... until Hank McCoy tells Mystique that the two of them represent "the last of the first class" of mutant students.
It's hard to believe, but with Darwin killed in First Class, Havok blown up in X-Men: Apocalypse, Mystique finding autopsy photos confirming Angel was killed as part of Trask's 'Project WideAwake' in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Erik confirming that Banshee was also a casualty, it proves Beast is a true survivor.
10. Vuk of The D'Bari
Years from now, the truth may come out about the rumors that Jessica Chastain's villain, and the alien race she represents was intended to be Marvel's Skrulls. But after being adapted into Captain Marvel as a key player in the MCU, the makers of Dark Phoenix were forced to come up with a different race of shape-shifting, nefarious operatives. But the choice does connect to the comics.
Officially, Chastain's villain is Vuk, of the D'Bari people. Comic book research will tell you that the D'Bari aliens were introduced as a one-off, tragic casualty of the Pehonix Force. As the movie explains, the cosmic being required an energy source, ans consumed their sun to get it (wiping out their people as barely an afterthought). One of the aliens would later appear as a survivor of the tragedy, but the similarities between the tree-people and the shapeshifters of Dark Phoenix end there.
9. The Mutant Nation of Genosha?
The mutant nation of Genosha isn't officially mentioned in the film, nor is it the thriving metropolis of mutants that it is famous for in the pages of Marvel Comics. But when Dark Phoenix finds Magneto, he has put the years since Apocalypse to use in founding an island haven for mutants to escape the outside world.
It's a clear reference to Genosha, whether it's given the name or not, and most of the major X-Men arcs of the past half-century involve Genosha in one form or another. Where previous X-Men films made Erik's Jewish history and heritage a more foundational element of his character, the parallels between his protected home for all mutants and the State of Israel are also clear.
8. The Hellfire Club's Black Queen
It wouldn't be an X-Men movie without some barely mentioned, but totally canon characters appearing along the fringes of the story. For Dark Phoenix, that task falls to Magneto's assistant, Selene (played by actress Kota Eberhardt). Gifted with psychic abilities, the story suggests that she is a minor player to the overall plot... which isn't true. At least, it wasn't in the original comic.
For those unfamiliar, Selene is secretly one of the oldest mutants in history--potentially even older than Apocalypse, even if it means honoring her origins (and ignoring the later changes) above the famous villain's. If she wasn't the first, she's certainly the oldest, being born more than 17,000 years ago. Her gifts make her a 'psychic vampire,' consuming humans' life force to prolong her own immortality. She's also been the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, which had a largely-erased role to play in the "Phoenix Saga" as well.
7. Charles Xavier is Totally Not a Hero
This may be the first X-Men movie to suggest that Charles Xavier made some questionable calls in his time as a de facto leader of mutantkind, but the comics got to that bombshells years ago. In the original movies, the "psychics blocks" that he placed in Jean Grey's mind were brushed aside without a single question... but in the comics, his crimes were far more serious.
After his death (just... don't ask) the 2000s saw many of Xavier's morally grey decisions brought to light. Whether it was mentally de-powering dangerous mutants, or erasing painful or inconvenient memories, some people knew that Charles Xavier wasn't a hero of the X-Men long ago.
6. Another Tease of Fan-Favorite Bishop
The obvious parallels between Dark Phoenix and X-Men: The Last Stand are impossible to ignore, but the deja vu reaches critical mass when the X-Men head to Jean Grey's childhood home to try to reason with the growing force inside of her. But fans may be so busy asking why this all feels eerily familiar to notice one of the coolest Easter Eggs in the movie.
In the background, a truck can be seen that appears to advertise a business or utility bearing the name of "Bishop Power." The fan-favorite X-Man who many felt deserved more than his cameo in X-Men: Days of Future Past (with a clever nod directly to his ability to manipulate energy).
5. The X-Men's Chris Claremont Cameo
The X-Men weren't created by Chris Claremont, but he was absolutely the comic legend who made them, at the time, Marvel's most valuable franchise (both creatively and commercially). So it's no surprise that the Dark Phoenix Saga was also one of his most well-remembered stories. No surprise that he is given an appearance in the movie adaptation, either.
If you're not sure you'll be able to pick him out of the Washington crowd during Charles Xavier's speech, we recommend searching for an image, since Claremont's impossible to miss for anyone who knows him.
4. The X-Men Jet Hangar is Filled With Balls?
The idea of an elite private school serving as the headquarters for a team of superheroes raises plenty of questions, but the first movie used the premise to poke some fun. With no better example than the question of where the team would keep their cutting edge aircraft... answered simply when the school's basketball court slowly opened to reveal the hangar below.
The final film pays homage to the first, and any fan who remembers the momentous occasion will spot it. Beginning with a basketball left behind on the court being slowly rolled aside as the pavement shifts, the new movie recreates the sequence--reminding fans to once again ask which of the X-Men is responsible for fetching the balls upon their return.
3. The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning
The movie concludes by putting the era of X-Men to bed as Charles Xavier steps aside to let Hank McCoy act as headmaster of the school (a decision that, in this series of movies, actually makes perfect sense). And with his departure comes a change of name in honor of Jean Grey, having escaped to a mysterious fate far from Earth.
The idea of re-dedicating the school in Jean Grey's honor has actually played out in the modern comics as well, with Wolverine making the call for similar reasons, and re-opening 'The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning.'
2. The Never-Ending Chess Game
The use of a chess board in any film, or between any two rivals speaks for itself (with Xavier and Magneto's roles as light and dark kings just as evident). And from the very first movie in this universe to the very end, Charles and Erik's games have been one of the most iconic. Whether it's a game as friends, a game played inside of Magneto's cell, or a single piece confirming that Magneto hadn't lost his powers, each film has a memorable moment of its own.
This closing chapter keeps that tradition alive, concluding the story with yet another match. Although the coolest Easter Egg fans want to catch in this scene comes AFTER the chess.
1. The Final Tease of... What, Exactly?
Once the chess match is covered, the scene fades to black with a rise up to the sky, revealing the image of a flaming phoenix layered among the stars. It's an obvious nod to Jean Grey being alive and well... but it's not the first time. Fans will remember when Jean Grey sacrificed herself to protect her teammates from rushing water in the second X-Men movie. After the film ended, a sweeping shot over the waters showed another phoenix, heralding Jean's first rage and 'death.' Proving just how inescapable the comparisons are going to be.
Those are all the Easter Eggs, Marvel Comic references, inside jokes, and secret details that we could find in Dark Phoenix, but there are sure to be more as the days, weeks, and months ahead reveal more and more. If we've missed any, be sure to let us know in the comments!