The Phoenix Problem in X-Men: Dark Phoenix

***Spoiler Warning Ahead***

If you knew me, then you know that I have big problems with the X-Men movie franchise. I remember when the first one came out, and I was so excited. Felt the same way about the second, until the third. Then everything you loved about X-Men got thrown out the window with the new set of movies. I could go further about this, but that is a topic for another day. Right now the subject is X-Men: Dark Phoenix, the last installment of the X-Men movie franchise from 20th Century Fox. This honestly could have been one of the best ones out there, but they missed the mark badly. It was as if following the same trainwreck that was X-Men: Last Stand. This was not Phoenix, nor was this Dark Phoenix. This was just Jean Grey being bad.

Dark Phoenix gave us an unsatisfying ending to the X-Men film franchise, with a storyline that’s neither character-driven nor well-developed. You know why? It’s because the producers once more decided to do their own thing instead of sticking to what is drawn out for them in the source material. This is the biggest problem with the movies. No one asked them to do stories straight from the books. Nor were they asked to make everything one-hundred percent accurate. However, the source material is there so that you don’t seem as if you have no idea what you’re doing.

As I said above, that was not Dark Phoenix. The worst slap in the face was that Jean was only called Phoenix once, and that was after the initial incident. After that, this power was only referred to as a force of cosmic power. How lazy is that? If you are going to give fans and viewers Phoenix, don’t halfass it. This is an immortal and immutable manifestation of the universal force of life and death. Not once could they even be bothered to get past the “This isn’t me!” nonsense without actually trying to elaborate. I felt like I was watching X3 all over again. Making the same mistakes and showing us nothing much new. Granted some things were directly taken from the actual Dark Phoenix Saga, too much of it was still not done with proper execution.

Let’s start with examples of every point where they got lazy. When the power of the Phoenix manifests itself, we are supposed to see the actual aura of this entity engulf Jean Grey. That didn’t happen until the very moment Jean died at the end of the movie. If they were scared of not being able to show off Sophie Turner’s face the whole time, they were wrong. In every instance where Jean lost control over herself, that should have been points where the Phoenix took over. Because you know, they aren’t the same thing. I’m pretty sure viewers were all waiting for that one moment where she said I am fire! And life incarnate! Now and forever — I am PHOENIX!”, only for that to never happen. We couldn’t even get a voice change to actually make her sound more intimidating. All that rage and screaming just made her seem like any other psychic whose having a meltdown. One of the worst offenses was the incorrect use of the Phoenix by allowing an ALIEN to be able to suck the entity out of Jean. Is it possible to remove the Phoenix from a host? Yes, but never to transfer into someone who isn’t deemed powerful enough to contain that power. The Phoenix often seeks hosts with strong inherent psionic abilities so they can withstand its power, and whoever that alien was, did not have that.

Some talk about X-Men for a new generation, but what did they really learn from this movie? You can’t explain this version of the Phoenix to someone new because there was no actual Phoenix present. It’s even sad to say that this is at the bottom of the bigger issues this franchise had. This was just a bunch of mutants fighting each other rather than being X-Men. Not to mention X-Men who don’t know how to actually be mutants. The shapeshifter who they flipped the script on to struggle being comfortable in her own skin. The beast who they practically turned into a werewolf. Let’s not forget the many students who look way too human for the budget they put into this movie. The only reason the Phoenix stands out so much right now is for the fact that they have royally screwed up twice on what should have left us with a memorable end.

Ultimate X-Men movie? I think not. This was a dumpster fire from start to finish. I wish I didn’t see it, but I did, and there’s no way to wash out the bad taste this leaves you with. As others have said, this franchise needed to die so that Marvel Entertainment could do it justice. MCU characters aren’t one-hundred percent copies of their comic counterparts, but at least they aren’t ashamed of going all in with them either.

Jideobi Odunze Author

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