The newest X-Men installment, Dark Phoenix was subjected to several weeks of reshoots in the 11th hour of production in the face of Fox's merger with Disney, but that doesn't mean it's being retrofit into Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity as some have speculated. Fox's X-Men universe finds itself in a peculiar place, after hitting big with Logan and Deadpool, the X-Men shared universe finally seemed to be coming to life, with the promise of Dark Phoenix and New Mutants on the horizon, when news of the Disney acquisition came through, stirring confusion over just how the future of the franchise would be handled.
As the eventual integration of the X-Men into the Marvel Cinematic Universe approaches, fans are growing more and more curious about how the characters will all be introduced to existing continuity, it certainly won't happen by shoehorning the two universes together through last-minute reshoots.
The primary reason for this is that it's simply not legally allowed. Disney has said that any Fox movies that go into production before the completion of the merger will be allowed to release as planned, and that's the case for Dark Phoenix. Additionally, Fox assets don't yet belong to Disney, so collaboration to bring the universes together would be a lawyer's nightmare to arrange in the middle of an ongoing acquisition.
Legal concerns aside, it simply doesn't make sense to incur the complication and expense of reshoots designed to add this version of the X-Men into the MCU when Marvel Studios is more likely to simply reboot the whole universe in order to eliminate baggage from the old franchise (which already soft rebooted itself due to its own continuity issues) and make casting and tonal decisions that are more cohesive with existing MCU films.
There are a multitude of ways to connect the universes, or simply keep them separate as "alternate dimensions," but still crossing over for major team-ups, but the appeal of the MCU has always been the "it's all connected" (at least on the big screen) shared storytelling. Keeping the existing X-Men separate betrays that fundamental quality of the MCU, and incorporating the characters and canon into the existing MCU story is too complicated, leaving a blank slate and total recasting as the best option.
If the franchise is unlikely to see another sequel and facing a hard reboot by Marvel Studios, then Dark Phoenix finds itself in a struggle for relevance, which is what makes the reshoots so interesting. It doesn't make sense to put so much effort into making changes to what is, in effect, a lame duck movie, unless the point of the reshoots is not to set the franchise up for the future, but to usher in its conclusion. The X-Men franchise as we know it won't be continuing, so they might as well modify the ending to wrap things up on their own terms. Based on the use of a cover of "The End" by The Doors as the music in the first trailer, that might be exactly what they're trying to do.
The reported purpose of the reshoots is to improve the 3rd act with additional action as well as add some additional scenes and reshoot some existing scenes, so hopefully it serves to make it stand on its own as a satisfying conclusion to one of the first modern live-action comic book franchises. We will see these characters again, but not like this, so here's hoping it's a satisfying send-off.
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- New Mutants (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020