Director Simon Kinberg has reassured fans that Dark Phoenix will be "very loyal" to the original comics, insisting that the comic book "Dark Phoenix Saga" is one of his all-time favorite runs. This is the second time Fox has tackled the story of Jean Grey and the Phoenix, and it'll probably be the last; the Disney/Fox acquisition looks sure to be approved by international regulators, and most fans are expecting the X-Men franchise to subsequently be rebooted. If that's the case, Dark Phoenix will be the last of Fox's tentpole X-Men films.
For all that's the case, the cast and crew seem to be delighted with the film. Star Sophie Turner, who plays Jean Grey, has gone so far as to suggest the movie will "revolutionize" the entire superhero genre. Co-star Tye Sheridan, a.k.a. Cyclops, has said it's more of a drama than a typical superhero film. But lovers of the X-Men franchise have been particularly concerned as to whether or not the film will be true to the original, much-loved comic book story; that's especially the case given rumors that the alien Shi'ar will be replaced by the shapeshifting Skrulls.
"It’s very loyal in a lot of ways... The movie, emotionally, is very loyal to the original source material. It’s loyal in that it’s centered on Jean’s transformation from Phoenix to Dark Phoenix, and that transformation involves a cosmic force that comes from outer space, and that there are alien characters. And then there are other ways I wanted to really drill down and focus on the characters and go as in-depth as they did in the comic, which means in the span of a two-hour movie, you can’t include everything that was in The Dark Phoenix Saga, so there are certain things that aren’t in the film, but I think fans will see that I myself am a huge fan and geek and was loyal to what I wanted to see in the film."
Curiously enough, when Chris Claremont and John Byrne penned the original "Dark Phoenix Saga," they envisioned the Phoenix not as a cosmic force but as a schizoid entity that tapped into Jean Grey's true power. Claremont originally liked the idea of transforming Jean into the X-Men's equivalent of Thor, a cosmic heavyweight who could drive stories on an entirely different scale. The legendary X-Men scribe then came up with the idea of the "Dark Phoenix Saga," a story in which Jean proved unable to deal with the infinite power of the Phoenix. In the end, Jean chose to commit suicide rather than risk the return of Dark Phoenix, an act that demonstrated her humanity triumphing over the seduction of power.
Marvel retconned this story, revealing that Jean had encountered - and in fact been replaced by - the cosmic Phoenix Force, which was seeking to experience what it truly meant to be human. This subtly rewrote the events of the "Dark Phoenix Saga," suggesting that the infinite Phoenix Force had been unable to cope with the tumult of human emotion, leading to its descent into madness. While this retcon has been embraced by comic book readers, it's interesting to note that it subtly revises the message of Claremont's original story. In the classic story, human nature triumphs over darkness. In the retcon, human nature is the cause of the darkness.
Comic book fans often press for a film to be comic book accurate. In the case of Dark Phoenix, though, that may not be quite so easy; will Kinberg be true to the original story, the retcon, or a blend of the two? Marketing is sure to soon begin again for the X-Men tentpole film, so hopefully more information will come to light in the near future.
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- New Mutants (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020