There were a lot of things wrong with X-Men: The Last Stand. It tried to make one of the greatest comic book stories of all time the subplot in a movie that already had way too much going on. This wasn’t the best idea, to put it lightly, and the X-Men as a franchise suffered for it. The one-two punch of X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Origins – Wolverine nearly sent the mutants to the grave permanently. That is until Fox took a chance on a soft reboot in 2011. Three movies of varying quality later Fox is ready to try and tell the story of the Phoenix Saga again. Director Simon Kinberg is very aware of what went wrong in The Last Stand and explained to Entertainment Weekly how he plans to avoid that happening again.
It is. More than anything, it’s a female-centered story because we have a female protagonist in Jean. I didn’t want to shortchange that. I thought part of what happened in X-Men: The Last Stand is that instead of making it a Jean story, it became a story of the cure, which was really Charles and Erik and Wolverine’s story, and I really wanted this to be Jean’s story. She is the dominant character in this movie. And you’re right, the other dominant characters are Mystique and Jessica Chastain’s characters, and Storm is stronger than she’s been before. Part of what I always loved about the X-Men is they have incredibly strong female characters, and I just thought it was time to help that come to the fore in the movie universe too.
There are some things that set of red flags for audiences when it comes to behind-the-scenes issues. One of them is something that happens in nearly all movies and that is reshoots. The other is the concept of delays. A single delay or a movie moving its release date is not that uncommon but when it happens multiple times fans start to worry. Dark Phoenix is a movie that has moved twice and Kinberg was asked why.
Well it was a combination of things. One, November was always a very ambitious release date for us, given how many visual effects and how complex the visual effects in this film were going to be. When we felt like we weren’t going to be able to complete the movie to the level we wanted to complete it from a visual effects standpoint, we considered moving it from November to February. Then, because of the way the international calendar was for us and how fast we could get materials to other territories, we felt like February became not just challenging, but not necessarily the best window internationally for the film. It’s very close to Captain Marvel. The studio started to feel that the movie was so massive in scale that it could compete in the most competitive time for films, which is summer. So we started looking at the potential for summer dates, and June 7 stood out as a date we could have for ourselves. It’s however many weeks after Avengers, so there will not have been a comic book movie for a little while, and our hope is that people will be excited about seeing another one.
The Disney-Fox merger is happening which means that this is likely the end of this version of the X-Men. While these movies tend to do well there really isn’t any reason for Disney to take on this version of Professor X, Magneto, and more when they could wait a couple of years and do their own version. However, no one really knows for sure and Kinberg was asked if he knew anything about the future of these characters.
I truly don’t know. I haven’t had formal talks with Disney. I know [Marvel Studios President] Kevin Feige very well. But we haven’t had formal talks because until the merger is official, they’re not allowed to have those kinds of conversations with the folks at Fox or myself. What’s interesting is obviously I started this movie long before Disney purchased Fox, and I approached the movie knowing that it was the fourth movie with our First Class cast and that the Phoenix story for me is the ultimate X-Men story. I approached the movie like it was the culmination in some ways — not that there couldn’t be other movies, but I did approach the movie as if, like, if you spent 20 years of living with this family, this is the movie you see the family truly tested, fall apart, and hopefully come back together. There was something about that sense of closure for the family, that sense of test, that sense of loss. It felt like not this is the end necessarily, but this is it for them.
It is the climax of this franchise. When we did the hair and makeup tests for this movie, I had the Doors song “The End” playing just to set the mood for the actors and the crew. It was this feeling of this is the climax of a lot of stories and a long relationship that we’ve all built up. It felt like it was time at least to give them some huge explosive story that demanded a different kind of resilience from them. I really felt on this one I couldn’t imagine where else to go with these characters after what they’ve gone through in this movie.
It sounds like everyone involved knew this was an ending and perhaps Kinberg is even going to wrap most of this up so this series has an actual ending. The X-Men are interesting characters and seeing them in the MCU is going to be interesting. However, whether or not this series, which has been going on in some form since for almost two decades, ends on a high or low note remains to be seen. Let’s cross our fingers.
Summary: Jean Grey begins to develop incredible powers that corrupt and turn it into a Dark Phoenix. Now the X-Men will have to decide if the life of a team member is worth more than all the people living in the world.
Dark Phoenix, directed by Simon Kinberg, stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, and Nicholas Hoult. It will be released on June 7, 2019.