WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Dark Phoenix.
Dark Phoenix leaves Fox's 19-year-old X-Men saga with a lot of unanswered questions. Writer-director Simon Kinberg's film is the franchise's second adaptation of Marvel Comics' The Dark Phoenix Saga but this time, the focus is properly on Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) and her transformation into the titular villain, which forces the X-Men to stand against her.
Despite their outward similarities, Dark Phoenix turns out to be a very different movie from X-Men: The Last Stand, which tackles the same material in ways that are somewhat more true to the comics' story. In Dark Phoenix, Jean is imbued with the cosmic Phoenix Force during an X-Men outer space rescue mission. The new power surging within Jean tears down the psychic walls built by Professor X (James McAvoy) to protect her from the trauma of her parents' death when she was eight. When the X-Men try to intervene, Jean lashes out and kills Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), which then breaks the X-Men apart as Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and the Brotherhood decide to get revenge and eliminate the Dark Phoenix. Meanwhile, an alien race of shapeshifters led by Vuk (Jessica Chastain) attempts to manipulate the power of the Phoenix so that they can take over the Earth.
Plagued by reshoots, two release date delays, and the shifting reality this would be the final Fox X-Men movie thanks to Disney's purchase of Fox's film assets, Dark Phoenix, unfortunately, ends the franchise with a whimper; the movie has the lowest box office opening and the worst Rotten Tomatoes score of any X-Men movie. And, from a narrative standpoint, Dark Phoenix also leaves behind a number of open questions about what happened in the film and the state of the X-Men universe now that it's all over.
10. Wasn't The Phoenix Force Already In Jean Grey?
Dark Phoenix retcons a crucial plot point of X-Men: Apocalypse in terms of Jean Grey's Phoenix power. In the new film, Jean absorbs the energy of a solar flare during a rescue mission in outer space by the X-Men. Jean later learns that it wasn't a solar flare but the Phoenix Force (though it isn't called that in the film), which is, according to Vuk, the source of life in the universe that traveled through space to bond with Jean, destroying the D'Bari homeworld in the process.
However, in X-Men: Apocalypse (which Kinberg wrote), Jean had the Phoenix Force within her all along. Her latent power would surge out of her control, rattling the X-Mansion, and Professor X was helping her suppress it. In the film's third act, Xavier tells Jean to "let go" of her power; it was the Phoenix Force, combined with the rest of the team, that killed Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac). In Dark Phoenix, it's been changed to Professor X erecting psychic walls in Jean's mind to shield her from trauma while the Phoenix Force comes from outer space to increase her psychic abilities. This plot hole is a major alteration of the mythos that seems to break X-Men: Apocalypse's finale.
9. How Can Nightcrawler Survive The Vacuum Of Space?
Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is one of the MVPs of Dark Phoenix; the blue teleporter was invaluable during the rescue of the space shuttle Endeavor. The X-Men didn't bring (or have) space suits, so they relied on Nightcrawler to BAMF in and out of the space shuttle to save the astronauts. However, at one point, Quicksilver (Evan Peters) puts a helmet on Nightcrawler and duct-tapes it to his shoulders so that he could rescue Jean, who was aboard the Endeavor. But if you look closely, Nightcrawler isn't wearing gloves and when he jumps to get Jean, he grabs her while she's floating in space after the Endeavor is destroyed by the Phoenix Force. Yet somehow Nightcrawler is completely fine despite his extremities (which includes his tail) exposed to the vacuum of space.
8. Is Dazzler Also A Student Or Was She Hired Entertainment?
With Dark Phoenix, Dazzler (Halston Sage) finally appears in an X-Men movie (she was previously teased in an X-Men: Apocalypse deleted scene). She is the performer during the Xavier School's victory party in the woods outside the mansion to celebrate the successful Endeavor rescue mission. While she only makes a brief cameo in Dark Phoenix, Dazzler's powers are in full effect as she converts her music into a light show during her performance.
However, since Dazzler isn't seen again in the film, it isn't clear if she is just the hired entertainment for the party or if she is also a student at the Xavier School. Considering that, by 1992, mutants are no longer being persecuted and the X-Men are popular superheroes, it would make sense that Dazzler could both have a successful music career and be a publicly-known mutant.
7. How Did Vuk Find Jean In The First Place?
The real villains of Dark Phoenix are Vuk and the D'Bari. After assuming the form of a woman named Margaret, Vuk and her alien cohorts search for Jean Grey and the Phoenix Force. After Magneto banished Jean from Genosha for attacking the U.S. Military on his soil, Jean decides to drown her sorrows and uses her psychic powers to make everyone think she's a drunk old man at a bar. Vuk suddenly appears, seeing right through Jean's illusion, and begins manipulating the confused, vulnerable X-Man.
But how did Vuk randomly locate Jean in the first place, knowing that she was in that particular New York City bar at that moment? Her only explanation is that she "knows people in high places," a vague statement that's never elaborated on; the film never clarifies any method the D'Bari had to track the Phoenix Force. As it plays in Dark Phoenix, Vuk just finds Jean out of the blue.
6. How Could Vuk Also Host The Phoenix Force?
Vuk and the D'Bari come to Earth after following the Phoenix Force across space; they were among the few survivors of their planet's destruction and wanted to use the Phoenix Force to take over Earth and make it their new home. At first, Vuk's plan appears to be to manipulate Jean but it turns out her real goal was to siphon the Phoenix Force's power into herself. But how is Vuk powerful enough to host the Phoenix Force in the first place? The cosmic energy traveled through space specifically to bond with Jean; if Vuk had the power to host it, why didn't it bond with Vuk when it came to the D'Bari's planet? Ultimately, Vuk was only able to gain a fraction of the Phoenix's power before Jean evolved into the Phoenix Force and destroyed her, but Vuk's abilities were left maddeningly vague.
5. Why Doesn't Xavier Seek Out Moira McTaggert In The End?
In Dark Phoenix, Professor X realizes he's one of the villains of Jean's story; the bald leader of the X-Men was so certain he was doing the right thing by shielding Jean from her own trauma that he inadvertently enabled Jean's rampage. At the end of the film, Professor X quits the X-Men and leaves his beloved school behind. Magneto finds Charles in Paris, tempts him with one more chess match, and offers him refuge in Genosha just as Charles once offered Erik a home in 1962.
However, this doesn't explain why Charles banished himself to Paris instead of seeking out Moira McTaggert (Rose Byrne), who he's carried a torch for since X-Men: First Class. While it's fitting that Dark Phoenix ends with the eternal bromance of Charles and Erik intact, Xavier should have finally pursued a romance with Moira instead.
4. Does Jean Stay In Outer Space As The Phoenix?
Perhaps Dark Phoenix's biggest surprise is that Jean doesn't die like she did in X-Men: The Last Stand or in The Dark Phoenix Saga comics. Instead, Jean saves the world from the D'Bari and she destroys Vuk by flying her into orbit and becoming the Phoenix Force itself. This new ending sees Jean evolve from a mutant into a higher form of life, which is the next step in the X-Men saga's theme of evolution. As the Phoenix, Jean is free to seek her destiny in the stars and she's glimpsed in the skies above Paris in the last scene of Dark Phoenix.
This ending seems to set up another X-Men film, although, after the Disney/Fox purchase and the box office failure of Dark Phoenix, that won't happen. However, it begs the question of whether Jean ever does return to Earth or if Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) leads the X-Men back into space to go after her. What happens next will ultimately be left to fans' imaginations.
3. What Is The State Of Mutants After Dark Phoenix?
Professor X's dream came true in Dark Phoenix, with mutants on the brink of acceptance by humanity: he even had an X-Phone hotline to the President of the United States and was being honored at black-tie galas. However, the Professor was right when he told Mystique that all it takes "one bad day" for mutants to become public enemies again, which is what happened when Jean went on a rampage. The President cut off the X-Phone and mobilized the military to hunt down the X-Men and Magneto, forcing them into a Mutant Containment Unit.
However, after Jean and the X-Men stopped the D'Bari's invasion, the overall state of mutants and their rights in Dark Phoenix is left somewhat ambiguous. The Xavier School is left open and renamed the Jean Grey School for Gifted Youngsters, so it seems Professor X took the public blame for the crisis and his retirement kept the school from being a target. But Magneto was apparently allowed to keep Genosha as a mutant haven; somehow, his leading the Brotherhood to try to kill Jean in New York City wasn't held against him.
Even then, was everything about Jean's acts of violence instantly forgiven or are mutants now in danger of being rounded up and held in Mutant Containment Units?
2. When Will Wolverine Join The X-Men?
Incredibly, four movies into the First Class rebooted continuity, Wolverine still hasn't joined the X-Men by the end of Dark Phoenix. The mutants did run into Logan in Days of Future Past (when he was being controlled by his future self) and Apocalypse (during an unexpected trip to Alkali Lake where Jean, Scott and Nightcrawler helped break out Weapon X), but he's a long way off from putting on any yellow spandex.
Wolverine doesn't appear in Dark Phoenix at all, which means in the revised timeline, Logan's story with the X-Men has yet to occur. Additionally, there's no telling how closely it will line up to what fans saw in the original X-Men and X2: X-Men United. After all, when Wolverine changed the timeline in X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men: The Last Stand was erased and Logan told Professor X that his memories since 1973 are going to be different from Wolverine's in the new timeline. One day Wolverine will join the X-Men in the new timeline, but fans will never know the exact details.
1. Will Dark Phoenix's Timeline Synch Up With Days of Future Past?
According to Kinberg, Dark Phoenix's ending doesn't break the timeline established by X-Men: Days of Future Past. But can it all still line up properly? By the time Dark Phoenix is over, Mystique has died, Professor X quit teaching, Nightcrawler has been a member of the X-Men for a decade, Beast runs the Jean Grey School, and Jean has evolved into the Phoenix in space. Lots of things would have to change or be reshuffled in the next two decades so that the characters are in their correct positions in 2023.
Ultimately, since Dark Phoenix concludes the Fox X-Men saga, fans will simply have to trust that it all works out like it's supposed to.
- New Mutants (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020