The final Fox X-Men movie, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, is in theaters now, and here are the biggest spoilers. Fox had originally intended Dark Phoenix to serve as the end of the First Class era, and the launch of a whole new wave of X-Men blockbusters. Those plans were ditched as a result of Disney's purchase of the bulk of Fox's film and TV empire, and the film rights to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four have been handed back to Marvel Studios. That means Dark Phoenix is the end of the old X-Men franchise, with Marvel's merry mutants destined to join the MCU.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix is set in 1992, almost a decade after the events of X-Men: Apocalypse. In the intervening years, the X-Men have become celebrated superheroes, even called upon by the president of the United States to help with any emergencies. That peaceful status quo is destined to be shattered when Jean Grey taps into the power of the Phoenix Force. The story is a (very) loose adaptation of the classic "Dark Phoenix Saga," in which Jean was exposed to cosmic power and transformed into the awesomely powerful Phoenix.
It's not the first time Fox has attempted to adapt the Dark Phoenix Saga; that was in part the basis of 2006's much-maligned X-Men: The Last Stand. This time, though, Fox is determined to get it right. Let's take a look at the biggest spoilers.
How Jean Grey Becomes Phoenix
X-Men: Dark Phoenix kicks off with the X-Men heading into space to rescue the crew of the space shuttle Endeavor, which has been damaged by what are believed to be solar flares. It's only when they arrive in space that the X-Men realize this wasn't a solar flare at all; in reality, it's the Phoenix Force. The X-Men conduct a desperate rescue mission, with Nightcrawler and Quicksilver teaming up to save the astronauts; unfortunately they unwittingly leave one behind. A second attempt needs Nightcrawler to go aboard with Jean instead of Quicksilver; Jean's task is to telekinetically hold the shuttle together. As fast as Nightcrawler may be, though, he's not quite fast enough, and Jean is inadvertently left behind. The X-Men watch in horror as the space shuttle explodes.
Preserved inside the Phoenix Force, Jean realizes that the energy wave is now heading towards her friends, and she chooses to draw all the power of the Phoenix Force inside herself. It's immediately clear that the experience has changed her, because when it's all over she is completely unharmed by the vacuum of space.
Jessica Chastain is Vuk of the D'Bari
Fox has been careful to keep the identity of Jessica Chastain's character a closely-guarded secret, but it turns out it would have been impossible to guess it anyway; she's Vuk, a leader in an alien race known as the D'Bari. Just as in the comics, the D'Bari homeworld was destroyed by the Phoenix Force. Unlike the comics, however, X-Men: Dark Phoenix's D'Bari are shapeshifters with uncertain powersets, including everything from energy-deflection to telekinetic death-blows. Their goal is to somehow take possession of the Phoenix Force, and use it to transform Earth into their new homeworld.
Jean's Father Gave Her Up To Professor X
The Phoenix Force unlocks Jean's memories of her childhood trauma, the development of her powers that she believed had killed her parents. In reality, though, Jean learns that her father is still alive; he just chose to give her up to Professor X. Jean's dad couldn't handle what his daughter had become, and blamed her for his wife's death. He considered her a lost cause, and just wanted rid of her. To Jean's heartbreak, when she tracks her dad down she finds he doesn't even have a photo of her on display.
Jean Grey Kills Mystique
The X-Men pursue Jean to the Grey residence, where Mystique attempts to talk her down. Unfortunately, it's pretty dangerous getting close to a telekinetic whose ever-expanding powerset is completely out of control, and a blast of telekinetic energy sends Mystique flying. She's impaled on some broken pieces of wood, and dies painfully. Jean flees, and the incident causes something of a schism in the X-Men's ranks. The scene is pretty underwhelming, especially given the fact that Mystique's death was featured prominently in the trailers.
The Second Act Is A Lot Of Wheel-Spinning
X-Men: Dark Phoenix's second act is essentially a whole lot of wheel-spinning. The X-Men mourn Mystique's death, with a heartbroken Beast blaming Professor Xavier, and Cyclops insisting Jean can still be saved. Jean, for her part, heads to the island nation of Genosha, which has been gifted to Magneto as a mutant sanctuary. The US military is hunting for Jean, and they send two choppers to check out Genosha; matters escalate when a wrathful Jean demonstrates her power before heading off to meet with Vuk.
Professor X Admits He's A Villain
There's a strange sense in which X-Men: Dark Phoenix turns Xavier's Dream into a nightmare. Although Xavier has won a peace between man and mutant, it's an uneasy one, and they're only ever one bad day away from it breaking down. As a result, there's a phenomenal amount of pressure on the X-Men to continually demonstrate their heroism to the world, and the risks they take are escalating every day. Further complicating matters, Xavier is becoming proud and not a little arrogant, particularly when he receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his X-Men's work to rescue the crew of the Endeavor.
As the film progresses, the X-Men learn just what lengths Xavier has gone to in order to build this fragile peace. When he took the young Jean Grey into his care, Xavier told her there was nothing to fix, because she wasn't broken; in spite of his words, though, Xavier used his powers to enter the young Jean's mind and wall off the traumatic emotions she was struggling to deal with. It's heavily implied he'd done the same kind of thing to all his X-Men, essentially building them into the people he wanted them to be. In the end, Xavier admits that he has failed to live up to his own dream, and that he has let his students down.
Jean Sacrifices Herself To Kill Vuk
Vuk seems to be different to the rest of the D'Bari, with the ability to draw the Phoenix Force from Jean. She successfully manipulates Jean into letting her drain a portion of Phoenix energy, but the process is interrupted by Cyclops. When Vuk returns for a second attempt, Jean realizes that the only way to truly defeat her is to accept the Phoenix, and bond with it. The experience will unleash the Phoenix, destroying Vuk and everything else around her; and so Jean launches herself and Vuk into space, where she evolves, becoming one with the Phoenix in a spectacular explosion. The X-Men believe Jean to be dead.
The Jean Grey School
Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters is renamed in Jean's honor, given the new name of "The Jean Grey School." Hank McCoy takes over as headmaster, seeking to honor his beloved Mystique by doing what Charles Xavier attempted - but doing it right. The film briefly shows that the staff stay on board, with Storm taking one of her classes.
Professor X Retires
Charles Xavier, for his part, retires. X-Men: Dark Phoenix leaves Professor X a broken man, filled with sorrow and regret, attempting to live an ordinary life. To Charles' surprise, he's approached on the street by his oldest friend, Magneto, who's traveled from Genosha to offer him a new home. Xavier is hesitant, clearly tempted to retreat from the world and brood just as he did in X-Men: Days of Future Past, but Magneto pushes him into agreeing to one more game of chess. Although it's not shown, it's pretty clear Xavier is going to head to Genosha.
Although the X-Men believe Jean is dead, in truth she has been transformed, bonding with the Phoenix Force itself. Fittingly, the final voice-over is from Jean, speaking of evolution, and there's a flare of Phoenix energy in the sky above Charles Xavier and Magneto. It's clear that Jean Grey is still alive, and still watching over her family.