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What The Hell Is Going On With The X-Men Franchise?

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Deadpool 2 is right around the corner, but it'll be the last X-Men-related movie for a while as both X-Men: Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants have now been pushed back to 2019. In both cases, reshoots are to blame: Dark Phoenix is undergoing relatively minor reshoots to tweak the movie after test screenings, but New Mutants' reshoots are more substantial. Reportedly up to 50% of the movie, which was directed by Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars), is being re-filmed in order to make it scarier and add more characters.

Dark Phoenix, which was directed by long-time X-Men screenwriter and producer Simon Kinberg, will be based around Jean Grey's (Sophie Turner) struggle with the Phoenix Force inside her, which we saw her unleash in X-Men: Apocalypse. New Mutants is also about mutants struggling with their superpowers, but will be considerably darker than the main X-Men movies, and set inside a secret facility designed to contain young and volatile mutants. Just as Deadpool was an all-out comedy, and Logan was a grim and gritty Western, New Mutants will have a distinct horror genre bent.

Related: New Mutants Reshoots Could Be Almost Half the Movie

Unfortunately, it will be a while before we actually get to see either of these movies. Dark Phoenix was supposed to release on November 2, 2018, but has been pushed back to February 14, 2019, while New Mutants was originally scheduled for release on April 13, 2018, but is now releasing on August 2, 2019. Given this substantial reshuffle, it's worth taking a look at the recent history of the X-Men franchise, what to expect going forward, and whether or not these delays and reshoots spell trouble.

This Page: The X-Men Plan

The X-Men Plan

Although the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come to be seen as the pinnacle of the superhero movie renaissance, the X-Men movie franchise predates it by eight years, with Bryan Singer's X-Men released in 2000. At the time, therefore, there was no real blueprint for building a cinematic universe, and this is evident in the tangled continuity of the main X-Men movies and their spinoffs. Efforts to fix the timeline with X-Men: Days of Future Past only served to complicate things further, and more recently Twentieth Century Fox seems to have relaxed their concerns about X-Men continuity altogether.

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Deadpool, for example, is theoretically set in the same universe as the main X-Men movies, but the first movie openly made fun of the fact that none of the A-list X-Men make an appearance. Logan, meanwhile, is set in the year 2029 and it's still unclear whether it takes place in the main timeline or not. Hugh Jackman said it takes place in a "slightly different universe," while director James Mangold demurred on that point, instead preferring to just say that the movie takes place five years after anything depicted in any of the other movies. The best interpretation of that movie is that it takes place in a possible future, rather than being a fixed point in the timeline.

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What all this means, from a practical standpoint, is that the X-Men movie franchise does not have a fixed plan in the same way that the MCU has a fixed plan. The X-Men movies have already been rebooted once, with X-Men: First Class, and recently the focus seems to be shifting away from the main entries like Dark Phoenix, and more towards spin-offs like New Mutants. This is a testament to the success of Deadpool (which was a surprisingly massive box office hit) and Logan (which was also a box office hit, and even picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay). X-Men: Apocalypse's worldwide gross of $543 million, while very respectable, was nonetheless lower than both of Fox's R-rated spinoffs. Somehow, the X-Men side projects have overtaken the traditional "tentpole" blockbusters.

Related: New Mutants Star Confirms New Character is Being Added

Much like the mutants at the heart of it, evolution is a trademark of the X-Men movie franchise. When The Last Stand was almost universally hated, Fox came back five years later with a soft reboot and a new young cast. When Deadpool was a smash hit, Fox green lit Deadpool 2 and accelerated plans for an X-Force movie. So it only makes sense that Fox would want to recreate the success of Deadpool and Logan with The New Mutants, embarking on reshoots to make the movie even scarier (with Fox perhaps hoping the new release date will deliver an IT-style late-summer horror hit).

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So, do these delays and reshoots spell trouble for Dark Phoenix and New Mutants, or are they a sensible move by Fox?

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Key Release Dates
  • X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Feb 14, 2019
  • New Mutants (2019) release date: Aug 02, 2019
  • Deadpool 2 (2018) release date: May 18, 2018
  • Gambit (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
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