X-Men: Dark Phoenix writer/director Simon Kinberg says that he doesn't know exactly how the upcoming Disney-Fox merger will affect the franchise, but he approached the movie as "the end" for the current cast of characters. Dark Phoenix is the fourth movie in the current prequel series, the seventh movie featuring the main team of X-Men, and the twelfth release in the overall X-Men movie franchise (including the Deadpool movies). Along with New Mutants, it is one of the final X-Men movies to be produced prior to the Disney-Fox deal.
Disney first announced its intention to acquire 21st Century Fox (including all of Fox's movie and TV franchises, but not including its news networks) in December 2017, and Fox agreed to Disney's $71.3 billion offer in June 2018. Since then the two companies have been going through the process of getting approval from regulatory bodies in the United States and overseas, and are now hashing out the final terms of the deal, which is expected to conclude before June 2019.
While there has been much speculation about how this may have already affected the X-Men franchise and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the delicate nature of the deal means that no concrete plans have been made yet. Speaking to EW about this week's release of a new trailer for Dark Phoenix, Kinberg said that he has no idea if this will be the final movie to feature the current cast:
"I truly don’t know. I haven’t had formal talks with Disney. I know [Marvel Studios President] Kevin Feige very well. But we haven’t had formal talks because until the merger is official, they’re not allowed to have those kinds of conversations with the folks at Fox or myself. What’s interesting is obviously I started this movie long before Disney purchased Fox, and I approached the movie knowing that it was the fourth movie with our First Class cast and that the Phoenix story for me is the ultimate X-Men story. I approached the movie like it was the culmination in some ways — not that there couldn’t be other movies, but I did approach the movie as if, like, if you spent 20 years of living with this family, this is the movie you see the family truly tested, fall apart, and hopefully come back together. There was something about that sense of closure for the family, that sense of test, that sense of loss. It felt like not this is the end necessarily, but this is it for them."
Kinberg further added:
"It is the climax of this franchise. When we did the hair and makeup tests for this movie, I had the Doors song “The End” playing just to set the mood for the actors and the crew. It was this feeling of this is the climax of a lot of stories and a long relationship that we’ve all built up. It felt like it was time at least to give them some huge explosive story that demanded a different kind of resilience from them. I really felt on this one I couldn’t imagine where else to go with these characters after what they’ve gone through in this movie."
While Michael Fassbender (Magneto), James McAvoy (Professor X), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), and Nicholas Hoult (Beast) have been with the current run of X-Men movies since the release of X-Men: First Class in 2011, actors like Tye Sheridan (Cyclops), Sophie Turner (Jean Grey), Alexandra Shipp (Storm), and Kodi Smit-McPhee (Nightcrawler) have only appeared in one previous movie - X-Men: Apocalypse. If the current X-Men franchise does end with Dark Phoenix, it's hard not to feel that their story has been somewhat cut short.
Assuming that Dark Phoenix really is the last time we'll see these versions of the characters, then the pressure is on to deliver a worthy final film. Fans became somewhat nervous after test screenings reportedly failed to impress audiences, and the latest trailer has also drawn some backlash for brazenly spoiling the death of a major character. There are also concerns, given that it's an adaptation of the same comic book arc from the same screenwriter, that it could end up being a repeat of the much-derided X-Men: The Last Stand. However, we're holding out hope that Dark Phoenix will prove to be worthy conclusion to the Fox era of X-Men movies.
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- New Mutants (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020