Review: Dark Phoenix (Carson’s View)

Dark Phoenix is the conclusion of Fox’s X-Men “Singer-verse”, which started 19 years ago with X-Men.  Bryan Singer’s X-Men is often credited with ushering in the new era of superhero movies to the big screen. Following closely behind was Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man in 2002.  However, being first doesn’t mean it’s the best.  Sony figured out quickly after a short 5-year and 3-movie run, their Spider-Man franchise needed a reboot and a fresh start.  Fox, on the other hand, kept making X-Men movies which only got progressively worse.

The 2006 X-Men: The Last Stand features the comic book fan-favorite Dark Phoenix Saga storyline, however, the movie left a bitter taste in the mouths of both fans and critics. But wait, if they have already done a Dark Phoenix movie, then how could this all be connected in the same universe? I will get to that…

In 2011, Fox thought new blood was needed.  Instead of rebooting and starting over, they decided to make the prequel First Class. It was set in the 1960’s, but they still attempted to keep the continuity of the previous four movies intact.

In 2014, Fox released a time-traveling X-Men movie called Days of Future Past.  Time-travel is an easy way to fix mistakes.  Now, anything that happened in the first four X-Men movies, didn’t really count because the past was changed.  Which means they can remake the Dark Phoenix Saga storyline that they botched so spectacularly in 2006’s X-Men: Last Stand! Leap-frogging over the huge embarrassing failure that was X-Men: Apocalypse brings us back to this thrilling finale: Dark Phoenix.

Dark Phoenix has a villain problem.  Villains maketh the movie.  Like her or not, Jessica Chastain has nothing to work with here. I cannot recall a more generic role than what she had to endure in this movie. Sophie Turner as Jean Grey doesn’t even reach “Dark Phoenix” status as the title suggests.  More like “Medium Luminescent Phoenix”. Dark Phoenix has a story problem.  This makes very little sense to me, as there is one of the most iconic Marvel Comics storylines ever to pull from. It was clearly ignored in both adaptations.  Dark Phoenix has a writing problem.  Even the likes of McAvoy, Lawrence, and Fassbender cannot overcome such a lousy script. Per usual they are the standouts, however, their talents are once again wasted.  Dark Phoenix has serious problems.

Dark Phoenix gives Simon Kinberg his first crack at directing a major motion picture.  But Kinberg is far from a new guy on the scene. He wrote the aforementioned abomination X-Men: Apocalypse; The famously horrendous Fantastic Four of 2015; XXX: State of the Union; and (my personal favorite) X-Men: The Last Stand!  He has already written a failed Dark Phoenix saga movie!  Why keep going back to this guy? He clearly does not understand the source material, nor how to develop a compelling story (or villain).  I do not get it, but decisions like this explain why Fox had to sell their properties to Disney.

You might be thinking I just hate X-Men.  On the contrary, I think I love them too much.  Growing up a comic book reader, my go-to comics were Spider-Man and X-Men.  I fell in love with a team of outcasts that had acquired powers far more believably than some toxic waste spill.  They were simply born with them. They fought against a world who hated and feared them solely because they were different. Even other superheroes at times looked down upon these mutants as less than human. Their entire mission was to save people’s lives and earn their acceptance.  How could you not root for this team of heroes?! I am glad this era is over and now mutants can enter their proper place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Wolverine vs. Hulk… Finally!