Once the peak of ongoing superhero movie franchises, this is how 20th Century Fox's X-Men universe died. In many ways, this is the franchise that is largely responsible for the superhero movie craze that has dominated Hollywood over the last two decades. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, or even Sam Riami's Spider-Man trilogy often receive this praise, but it truly was X-Men that started it all.
The first X-Men movie hit theaters in 2000 to great acclaim and box office success. Fox moved quickly to get a full trilogy of films out in theaters by 2006, but X-Men: The Last Stand left a sour taste with audiences. In an effort to reinvigorate interest in the franchise, Fox turned to the clear star of the aforementioned trilogy, Hugh Jackman's Wolverine. He was given an origin movie three years later, but it also didn't sit well with fans, forcing Fox to once again change direction.
Instead of operating with a clear - or even rough - plan, the last decade of the X-Men franchise has seen reboots, prequels, spinoffs, and standalone films all mixed together. Standalone films like Logan or the first two Deadpool movies found great success telling their own stories and free of any continuity, but the draw of the franchise is supposed to be the main series. Unfortunately, as discussed in the latest Screen Rant video, a lack of a vision and lesser quality of the main franchise led the once great X-Men series to quietly meet its end.
The X-Men franchise got its soft reboot in 2011 with Matthew Vaughn's X-Men: First Class. The movie took the franchise back to the 1960s to show the origin of the first X-Men team and how Professor X and Magneto met and became rivals. While Vaughn had a plan for a whole trilogy of films, Fox wanted to rush to his endpoint of X-Men: Days of Future Past. His rough pitch was made as the second film in the new series with Bryan Singer returning to direct. The movie was a hit as it brought the new young cast together with the original franchise leaders.
But the problem with Fox's decision to rush to X-Men: Days of Future Past was that it left the ongoing franchise without a clearly defined vision. They weren't going to just stop the franchise after two entries in the reboot series either, especially since the X-Men: Days of Future Past became the highest-grossing and best-reviewed movie in the main saga. That meant that a third film was on the way and led to X-Men: Apocalypse. The movie went further into the soft reboot approach by casting young versions of Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Storm, and Jean Grey. After small roles in X-Men: Apocalypse, they were thrust to the forefront of Dark Phoenix.
Whether it was from a lack of build-up to a second attempt at The Dark Phoenix Saga storyline, audiences not feeling attached to these new characters yet, or the likelihood of a reboot looming from Marvel Studios, Dark Phoenix was a big disappointment financially. It had the lowest opening for any X-Men film domestically and has barely made more than $250 million worldwide. And even though another spinoff film The New Mutants is currently set to hit theaters next spring, the main X-Men saga is over after this slow crumble.
- New Mutants (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020