Fox announced the release dates for their next slate of mutant-centric films on Saturday, including the highly anticipated release of Deadpool 2. While we know a bit about that film and who will finally be playing Cable, the other two films announced are little bit more of a mystery.
New Mutants will be the first hit on Fox’s calendar, landing in theaters on April 13, 2018, but not much is known apart from the return of James McAvoy as Professor X. That also means that any of those kids we saw in Logan won’t be a part of any New Mutants team, even if some thought it was a possible connection. Whatever they do with this one won’t be some sort of world-shaking plot and it will need to introduce the members in a way that might resemble First Class.
It’s the latter film of the trio, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, that might be the most trouble of them all. While New Mutants can be an origin story and Deadpool 2 is a surefire hit, Dark Phoenix seems to be hinting that Fox is once again going to boil the entire classic storyline down into one film on November 2, 2018.
The inclusion of Dark Phoenix hasn’t been a secret since Apocalypse was released and teased Jean Grey’s hidden power but rumored director and Fox’s mutant producer wanted to make sure the series didn’t make the same mistakes it did in the past:
I think of maybe a few mistakes we made in that movie — and every movie has mistakes — but the main mistake we made in that movie was taking the Dark Phoenix story, which is such a vast and profound saga, and making it the subplot of the movie as opposed to the main plot of the movie. I think if we were to make a Dark Phoenix movie in the future, it would be a Dark Phoenix movie about her struggle, and really should be the A plot and the primary of the movie.
Something I know I’ve overlooked in the past discussions about the X-Men and Phoenix is how the movie universe has already established Dark Phoenix as some sort of manifestation within Jean Grey herself. There is no cosmic entity, no space empires looking for revenge, and no need to copy half of those storylines from the source material.
That’s where there’s a problem. It should be there. They shouldn’t just ignore what’s going on with Phoenix and Jean Grey in those stories in order to fit it into whatever mold they want for the film universe. That spacefaring adventure is a draw and the Phoenix saga as a whole is a linchpin that holds so much together. While the films do need to redo the Dark Phoenix for the big screen, they still have some parts that are needed to do it correctly.
The most important aspect that seems to be missing is the relationship between Scott Summers and Jean Grey. They just met in X-Men: Apocalypse and while the time that passes between films can add a lot, that’s going to force a lot down viewer’s throats in just a two-hour movie. It’s not a shock they’d be fine doing this considering how the main X-Men films have handled classic tales, but it’s also history repeating itself when it doesn’t have to for Fox. We’d also pass over the cosmic aspect and an open door for the return of the Hellfire Club — already burned through with a defeat in First Class.
The initial rumors of a trilogy of films revolving around Phoenix would have been interesting and would have allowed for a game plan across several years of movies. If these films are going to keep coming out on a non-stop march to the bank, they could at least do something to make them stand out from the pack. Logan and Deadpool make it clear that following the line that was set before isn’t necessary for success with both critics and audiences. X-Men movies will make money no matter what happens, but things don’t have to be a wash.
Stuffing Dark Phoenix into one film feels like a bad idea, even if it is the “A-plot.”