Audiences Are Already Looking Forward to the MCU Reboot
That the X-Men franchise has run for 18 years in the same continuity (sort of) with consistent box office success is certainly admirable, but there's no denying at this point that fans are looking elsewhere. With Marvel Studios having aced comic book-accurate renditions of characters in a modern, cinematic setting, most are eager to see what they can do with the X-Men once they finally "come home".
So, while Dark Phoenix is setting up to retell the iconic storyline muddled by X-Men: The Last Stand and will present comic-accurate costumes (and New Mutants engages with the reemergence of horror as a respected genre), the real hook comes with Marvel Studios. At this point, another rendition of the Phoenix Saga is just a roadblock to be passed so that fans can get to the juicy business of the X-Men being introduced into the MCU.
Marvel has already worked wonders with Spider-Man (as part of a shared deal with Sony), and the expectation they will work similar magic with the Merry Mutants (as well as the Fantastic Four). With such an exciting prospect, it's hard for what are essentially standalone movies to make a dent. Even though the X-Men won't appear in the MCU proper until 2021, the merger means it's at the forefront of everybody's minds.
They're Both Chapters in an Incomplete Book
The impending MCU entrance of the X-Men offers up a much bigger concern that scuppers hype for Dark Phoenix and New Mutants. If we're getting a reboot, that doesn't just mean there'll be new versions of the characters, it means that this current continuity will be left unfinished.
Both movies were made thinking they were just part of a story, not the end. X-Men: Dark Phoenix has a twist that supposedly shakes up the world (which won't be an MCU connection due to rights), while New Mutants was clearly designed as a franchise-starter. Now they're the last and, while reshoots can adjust things slightly, that doesn't do much for the audience's view of their purpose.
Through no fault of their own (reshoots aside) X-Men: Dark Phoenix and New Mutants have become lame duck films, ones that exist because they exist. Typically that would be enough justification, but an age of shared universes it feels odd; they're not truly standalone, yet any hope of playing into the bigger picture has been dashed by inter-studio changes. Will they be good movies? We can hope, but at this point, does it matter?
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- New Mutants (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020