Warning: SPOILERS for Jessica Jones Season 3 and Dark Phoenix
Marvel's Jessica Jones season 3 and Dark Phoenix share something unique in common: thanks to Disney, they are both the conclusions of their respective Marvel universes - even though neither was supposed to be. Disney's purchase of Fox's assets resulted in Dark Phoenix becoming the final X-Men movie before the mutants' inevitable reboot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Meanwhile, Netflix ended their deal with Marvel (in part because of Disney+, the Mouse House's upcoming streaming service that will become the home of the MCU); all of the Defenders' TV series were canceled, and Jessica Jones season 3 ended up as the last Marvel show produced.
The second Marvel Netflix series, Jessica Jones season 1 released in November 2015, several months after Daredevil launched the line. Critically acclaimed when it began, Jessica Jones was arguably the second most important Marvel Netflix show and, like Daredevil, Jessica Jones got three seasons whereas Luke Cage and Iron Fist only received two, although they all joined forces in The Defenders. However, fans were constantly frustrated by how the MCU movies continually ignored the Netflix shows thanks to the one-sided relationship between Marvel Studios and Marvel Television. Rubbing salt on the wound, not only is Avengers: Endgame a shining example of a true finale that poignantly capped off the first decade of the MCU, none of the Defenders were invited to the film's climactic final battle, proving they don't count as part of the "true" MCU.
Meanwhile, Fox's X-Men franchise predated the MCU but, as Marvel Studios' movies continually delighted fans, were appauded by critics, and set box office records, the X-Men struggled to keep pace, despite its own critical and box office hits like X-Men: Days of Future Past and Logan. Finally, the writing was on the wall for the X-Men when Disney bought Fox's film rights; Dark Phoenix, which was a cinematic redo of The Dark Phoenix Saga comics that starred Game of Thrones' Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, looked like a lame duck months before its June 2019 release date. Thanks to the bad buzz generated by its litany of production problems, reshoots, and negative reviews, Dark Phoenix bombed at the box office, ending the X-Men franchise with a whimper.
Unfortunately for fans who enjoyed the variety Netflix and the X-Men offered, the MCU will become the dominant Marvel brand in movies and TV when Disney+'s MCU series launch. In the process, Jessica Jones and Dark Phoenix found themselves in the unenviable position of unexpectedly closing out their respective Marvel universes - and neither can offer fans the kind of closure Avengers: Endgame did. So, along with being female-led Marvel franchises that have run their course (and Jessica Jones introducing a mutant character), let's look at everything else Jessica Jones season 3 and Dark Phoenix have in common.
Neither Jessica Jones Nor Dark Phoenix Were Meant To End Their Marvel Universes
Thanks to Netflix canceling their entire line of Marvel series, Jessica Jones season 3 inadvertently became the finale of the Defenders' corner of the MCU. As Jessica Jones showrunner Melissa Rosenberg told THR, when Daredevil was canceled early in Jessica Jones season 3's production, she realized her series would also be axed and they were able to make "adjustments" to the scripts. Regardless, it's obvious Jessica Jones season 3 was never meant to cap off the entire Marvel Netflix saga and it only nods to the other Defenders' series (such as a brief cameo by Mike Colter as Luke Cage) while telling the long-form story of Jessica taking on the serial killer Gregory Salinger (who is known as Foolkiller in Marvel Comics) and dealing with the transformation of Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) into Hellcat.
Similarly, Fox's X-Men saga came to an end with Dark Phoenix, but Simon Kinberg's movie also wasn't originally conceived to be the finale of the mutant movie franchise. Dark Phoenix was designed as a re-do of The Dark Phoenix Saga within the rebooted timeline that kicked off with X-Men: First Class; indeed, the plan was to make more X-Men films starring the younger cast. During Dark Phoenix's post-production, Disney's purchase of Fox's assets (which included Marvel's X-Men and Fantastic Four movie rights) happened in short order. By the time Dark Phoenix landed in theaters in June 2019, the Disney sale was complete and the film's marketing touted it as the end of 19-year X-Men movie franchise (which will now be rebooted in the MCU). Even though the third act was extensively reshot, Dark Phoenix's ending actually hints at a future X-Men movie that won't be made now. Overall, Jessica Jones season 3 and Dark Phoenix come off as sudden stops for their franchises rather than true swansongs.
A Female Hero Falls In Jessica Jones And In Dark Phoenix
Jessica Jones season 3 concludes the fall from grace of Jessica's adoptive sister Trish Walker. One of the most complex characters in the series, Trish received the superpowers she longed for in Jessica Jones season 2. With her enhanced vision and reflexes, Trish set out to prove she was a hero, setting herself above Jessica thanks to her "superior" moral compass. Trish donned a makeshift costume and mask and briefly became Jessica's crime-fighting partner (though she was never called Hellcat, her comic book codename). But Trish turned into a murderer and fugitive who couldn't distinguish the flaws in her own logic. Jessica finally had to defeat and turn her own sister into the authorities; it was only once Trish was captured and sentenced to the super prison called The Raft that she finally realized, "I'm the bad guy." Overall, Jessica Jones season 3 was a sad end to Trish Walker's story.
In Dark Phoenix, Jean Grey also struggles with newfound power when she's imbued with the extraterrestrial Phoenix Force, which also unlocked her repressed childhood trauma. Jean rampages and is set up as the villain of the story, although the real enemies in Dark Phoenix turn out to be the D'Bari, alien shapeshifters led by Vuk (Jessica Chastain), who planned to conquer Earth with the Phoenix Force. However, instead of Jean dying as she does in the comics and in X-Men: The Last Stand, a different female hero falls in Dark Phoenix: Jean kills Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). In the 1992 setting of Dark Phoenix, Mystique had evolved from a rogue mutant freedom fighter into the field commander of the X-Men. And yet, Mystique had grown discontent with living out the dream of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and she wanted a new life with Beast (Nicholas Hoult). Considering the scope of her history in the X-Men saga, Mystique's underwhelming death is arguably even more disappointing than how Trish Walker's life turned out.
Jessica Jones And Dark Phoenix Set Up Sequels That Won't Happen
The ending of Jessica Jones season 3 doesn't feel like a true ending so much as a "To Be Continued..." True, Jessica loses Trish at the end and the finale episode, "A.K.A. Everything", sets up the tormented private detective leaving Alias Investigation to Malcolm (Eka Darville) when she decides to abandon New York City and flee to Mexico, but she changes her mind at the last moment when she hears the voice of Kilgrave (David Tennant) in her mind and she decides to stay. Meanwhile, the rest of the Marvel Netflix universe remains under the same status quo as the other series' finales established: Danny Rand (Finn Jones) is "on sabbatical" and there's no mention of Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) becoming the new Iron Fist, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is still presumably still Daredevil, and Luke Cage still runs Harlem. For her part, Jessica's desire to leave town was fleeting and she's poised to get right back to work as a P.I. It feels like there could (and should be more), although there won't be.
Similarly, Dark Phoenix sets up another X-Men film that won't happen. By the end of Dark Phoenix, Professor X has retired along with Magneto (Michael Fassbender), which seemingly concludes the stories of the two opposing elder statesmen of the mutants, but the rest of the X-Men are positioned to keep going: the Xavier School has been renamed the Jean Grey School for Gifted Youngsters, with Beast as the new Headmaster and the X-Men like Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), and Quicksilver (Evan Peters) taking on roles as teachers. As for Jean herself, she has transformed into the Phoenix Force but she's last seen in the skies above Paris as if she's inviting the X-Men to come and get her. Not to mention that Wolverine still hasn't joined the X-Men so there's still that revised story to tell after the timeline was changed by X-Men: Days of Future Past. Dark Phoenix's ending leaves the future of Fox's X-Men universe to fans' imaginations.
Dark Phoenix Was A Better Ending Than Jessica Jones Was
Jessica Jones season 3's ending reaffirms the titular P.I.'s desire to continue to help people in need (while denying she's actually a hero). Although Jess's final decision to stay in NYC is cathartic, it's disappointing that Jessica Jones is the only Marvel Netflix show that refused to upend its status quo. True, Trish is now in prison, but Jessica herself essentially remains the same: a tortured, hard-drinking detective and reluctant superhero. Meanwhile, the other Defenders series took bold chances and shook things up: Daredevil ended Nelson and Murdock's original law firm, Luke Cage now walks a fine line running Harlem's organized crime, and the Iron Fist passed from Danny Rand to Colleen Wing. But Jessica Jones is still stuck running in the same hamster wheel since season 1. Ultimately, Jessica Jones season 3 was a rehash of the series' main beats and it fails to give true closure to the Marvel Netflix universe (although it was never designed to do so). In the end, Jessica is the same old Jessica and the Defenders' overall saga is left in a lurch, with open questions that may never be answered.
Contrasted to Dark Phoenix, the final X-Men movie at least offers some surprises and pivotal changes to the X-Men universe. Not only does Jean survive the film, but she pivots into a hero at the end by realizing the X-Men are her true family and choosing to fight for them. Jean then saves the world by destroying the D'Bari and evolving into a higher form of life as the Phoenix Force, which fittingly touches upon the X-Men saga's theme of evolution. Meanwhile, Professor X and Magneto finally put aside 30 years of enmity and reaffirm their eternal bromance, which feels right. Dark Phoenix's ending isn't ideal as a conclusion to the entire X-Men franchise but it does leave the impression that it will sync up with X-Men: Days of Future Past. Moreso, Dark Phoenix suitably nods to the legacy of the characters and the ending of the X-Men saga leaves fans wanting more - which is something Jessica Jones season 3 doesn't necessarily do.