The world has been waiting for a long time to see Jean Grey finally turn into Dark Phoenix, and now the time has come. The question is, with such mixed and polarised reviews – does X-Men: Dark Phoenix go down in flames or rise up from the ashes? Bekka made it her mission to find out…
Dark Phoenix has been a long time coming
To say the least, I’ve been a lifelong X-Men fan. They were the first superhero team I ever watched, and the first I ever completely fell in love with. I literally grew up on the X-Men – I can remember watching the first film as a tiny child, and having the biggest crush on James Marsden’s Cyclops, and just generally absolutely loving the X-Men.
And it’s all been leading up to this. The final X-Men film before the big merger of Disney and Fox. The last film with this cast, with this continuity (I promise I’m not laughing), with this storyline.
These X-Men weren’t so First Class…
Naturally, I saw Dark Phoenix on the opening day, at the first possible showing, completely by myself. I wasn’t missing this for the world. This was the wrapping up of my childhood, the culmination of all of those memories of the X-Men, of a franchise that’s lasted for twenty years.
So, I have to be honest. The first time I watched it, I enjoyed myself a lot. I had a great time watching. Until I thought about it a bit deeper after I left the cinema…and then I felt a little disappointed. I still enjoyed myself, and while I was still happy to defend it against the scathing reviews it’s currently getting, I still liked it. It just hadn’t lived entirely to my expectations.
I had hyped this film up in my mind, had expected so much from this, and it didn’t quite live up to expectations. That and the ending did not match up at all to the end of Days Of Future Past, which I was fully expecting to happen.
I was half put off by the film, in that respect, for several days. But that all changed when I watched the film again. And then I really started to enjoy myself.
Like a phoenix from the ashes…
X-Men: Dark Phoenix could never live up to Avengers: Endgame, in the sense of wrapping up a massive superhero saga spanning two decades, but, what it did do was give a wonderful ending to the X-Men I grew up with. It gave the superheroes of my childhood flaws, it made them make mistakes, and then gave them the chance to make up for it.
It cemented how much these characters all cared for each other and how things have changed over the course of these films.
Could the story of Dark Phoenix been told better over the course of two films? Yes, yes it could. Could it have done with maybe another rewrite of the script, before it went into production? Possibly. But, the X-Men at Fox were never about the special effects, or telling the story of superheroes saving the world. It was about people. Outcasts coming together for the greater good, fighting for their rights, and making mistakes. It was about sending the message that no matter how ‘different’ you are seen to be by society, you are loved. That you are human, and deserve respect, rights, and a happy life.
So…does Dark Phoenix deserve the backlash?
This film does not deserve the hate it’s getting, at all. It’s a good, fun, film with an important message, as all the X-Men films have. It may not be the best written, or have the impeccable continuity over the course of the (many, many timelines), but, it still held the heart of the X-Men. And that’s what matters.
And, of course, if the ending made my little Charles and Erik shipping heart sing, then who am I to complain? Things can change between the end of Dark Phoenix and the day Logan wakes up in the changed future. Right now, the only thing I care about after watching Dark Phoenix is that my X-Men got a happy ending. That in this universe, they’re out there, saving the world, fighting for mutant rights.
What will come with the Marvel merge, who’s to say? Right now, I’m just happy that my final X-Men film stuck true to the heart of the X-Men.