X-Men: Dark Phoenix has a massive, franchise-changing twist – one that could completely alter the mutants on screen and see the franchise reboot. Already rising from the ashes of franchise despair, the whole of Fox’s X-Men universe is obviously looking to Simon Kinberg’s upcoming tentpole. Picking up from where X: Men Apocalypse left off in 2016, Kinberg hopes to once again tell the story Jean Grey’s The Dark Phoenix Saga, making up for its previous fudging in 2006’s The Last Stand.
After 17 years and six “main” series movies, the X-Men have come back from convoluted timelines, franchise resets, and having pretty much two of every character. However, even with Fox constantly pulling something new out of the bag, it’s felt like audiences are getting a little bored seeing Xavier’s Gifted Youngsters trot the globe to find new recruits, still without wearing those iconic costumes from The Animated Series? Now, hoping to lure us back for another adventure after the frankly abysmal Apocalypse, Kinberg and co. have promised “a franchise-changing twist” for the X-Men, but what could it be?
Possible Big Twists For X-Men: Dark Phoenix (This Page)
From James Bond to Star Wars, Batman to Superman, all the best franchises have kept us on our toes by killing off a main character without a moment’s hesitation. Given that a major death has already been teased for Dark Phoenix, can this really pack enough of a punch to warrant Kinberg’s hype? Bear in mind that Apocalypse already teased death with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (one actually being Death), and yet only waved goodbye to minor characters Havok and Angel. If Dark Phoenix wants to really shock its audience, it would need to kill off someone seriously major.
Those closest to Jean would be the obvious choices, but with the likes of Scott and Charles confirmed to survive to 2021 in the new altered timeline, that doesn’t leave many contenders. Mystique would be the obvious pick; she was safe in the X-Mansion at the end of Days of Future Past. However, as we well know with X-Men, adhering to continuity isn’t Fox’s forte. Even then though, would killing Mystique (or anyone else) really be classed as life-changing to the future of the X-Men?
Why kill one when you can kill billions? The Dark Phoenix Saga may only be a rough blueprint, but it has evidently been utilized more than it was for The Last Stand. We know the team goes into space, which sets the stage for something seismic.
The early working title for Dark Phoenix was Supernova. Could this also have been a hint at a major event for the movie itself? In The Dark Phoenix Saga, one devastating panel saw Jean absorb the power of a nearby star and cause a supernova that wiped out billions. It would definitely be one hell of a scene to behold, and the fact that Famke Janssen’s Jean previously got away with tearing apart Cyclops and Professor Xavier, it’s possible. That said, sci-fi films are no stranger to happily disposing of whole populations in the press of a button, so if we didn’t weep for the people of Alderaan, why would it be any different for the doomed D’Bari species? It may be quite literally planet-shattering, but it’s not exactly franchise-changing.
Putting it bluntly, the rebooted X-Men movies seem to be running low on steam. Now, it’s no coincidence that combining the new faces with the old guard of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen made Days of Future Past the highest-rated ensemble X-Men move, so could we see that card played again? Dark Phoenix could use some of that convenient time travel trickery to marry the two worlds once more and then proceed with the revised Days of Future Past timeline briefly glimpsed in that movie’s climax.
The issue here is mostly practical. Hugh Jackman has put down his claws as Wolverine, while the likes of Patrick Stewart and Famke Janssen have also said that they are “done” with playing their characters. Considering that Days of Future Past closed with as close to a happy ending as we were ever going to get for the X-Men, why ruin it? It may be a nice pipe dream to have another movie with Kelsey Grammer as Beast, Alan Cumming as Nightcrawler, and James Marsden as Cyclops, but that doesn’t feel likely. Besides, if there’s going to be a franchise-changing twist, there’s one bigger, better option.
Forget the end of a beloved character or the end of the prequel series, if we’re talking franchise-changing events then Dark Phoenix could end the X-Men as we know them altogether. Logan already technically killed the team once, and while we aren’t saying everyone needs to die, a definite end to the school could be a shrewd move for Fox to make. How is another matter, but for now we’re just saying that it could happen.
As outlined above, the main series X-Men movies just aren’t what they used to be, so it would make financial success for Fox to plow all its efforts into genre fair like Deadpool and the darker mutant movies it is clearly set on making. Dark Phoenix is hardly going to be a fun-filled frolic through the X-Men comics, but it also isn’t going to be the R-rated rumble that fans enjoyed in Logan. Considering people seem to prefer that, it may be beneficial to do only that.
That sense of finality would definitely help Dark Phoniex. Looking back at franchise highs like X2 and Days of Future Past, there was no need for big-budget action sequences or worrying too much about what the future holds. Apart from the Phoenix tease at the end of X2, both movies could’ve technically served as the final chapter of their respective universes and it just worked. Without consideration for another movie coming next, Dark Phoenix could bow out with one final swansong where all bets are off.
It may seem a little hasty to completely write off Charles and his crew, but after nearly two decades of the same characters, how much more material is there left to wade through? There are obviously many comic book stories untold, but as they’ve already done The Dark Phoenix Saga twice, you could still accuse the Fox bigwigs of running low on ideas for where to take the X-Men. With everyone looking forward to Deadpool 2 and The New Mutants, Dark Phoenix was already the runt of the litter; this allows them to avoid a repeat of that.
More importantly, it sets the groundwork for Disney. The Mouse House is in the process of finalizing a deal to buy Fox, and with it return the X-Men rights to Marvel. The likes of McAvoy, Fassbender, and Lawrence have had a good run, but if the mutants do indeed find themselves joining the MCU, it would make sense that Disney do a hard reboot. Depending on how long this deal have been in the pipeline, it could have been the plan for a long time.
Considering there have been three live-action actors portraying Peter Parker since 2002, it wouldn’t be that hard to imagine a third person slipping on Erik’s helmet, sitting in Charles’ chair, or stripping off as Raven. Indded, if it didn’t work for Andrew Garfield, why would this be any different?