Review: ‘Dark Phoenix’ Failed to Present a Satisfying Finale

Allison DeGrushe
Allison DeGrushe
April 1, 2021

The final installment in the main X-Men storyline is Dark Phoenix. The film is a direct sequel to 2016’s X-Men Apocalypse and follows the same group of mutants. The story takes place in 1992, and audiences are quickly immersed in an X-Men mission in space. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Didn’t the Avengers do this already? And weren’t they unsuccessful?” Yeah, they were. However, this is a completely different franchise, so there’s no need to worry about that. Plus, they’re mutants — they can handle anything … mostly.

While up in space, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is struck by an energy force, a strong one at that. Everyone expected her to die — no, they knew she should’ve died. Miraculously, Jean survives the near-death experience, absorbing the energy and saving the craft carrying the team. Hooray! Mutants are the heroes, and everyone appreciates them!

Not for long.

As a result of consuming the energy, Jean’s powers become difficult to control; she is a loose cannon filled with unrelenting rage towards her X-Men family. She wreaks havoc and ultimately kills someone close to her. Thus, the mutant species are back to being hated by the rest of the world. Oh, what could’ve been.

For what was supposed to be an epic send-off to some of the most iconic characters in Marvel, this was a dud. Dark Phoenix is packed to the brim with clichés, and lacked a shock value it so desperately needed. A few of the most pivotal moments were incredibly anticlimactic — which made this viewing one of the most generic and uneventful experiences of my life.

I mean, this is the end of an era, the end of the original X-Men cinematic series … who thought this was a good ending? These characters deserve so much better than this. There was no nostalgia, nor was there a feeling of “I’m happy with the way this ends. They ended on a good note.” Though that’s what writer and director Simon Kinberg attempted to do, that was not the case at all.

The dialogue in this film was so predictable, I was speaking it before the characters did. Yikes. From the basic villain speeches to the “emotional” proclamations of love before someone dies, this was just not it. Dark Phoenix was supposed to be a sensational superhero movie to end the X-Men series with a bang — and yet it ultimately ended up being the biggest box office flop of 2019.

Of course, with the bad also comes the good. The film wasn’t all that terrible; I appreciate the continuation of the frenemy relationship between Charles (James McAvoy) and Erik/Magneto (Michael Fassbender). I love these two so much, and seeing them together, presumably for the last time, was bittersweet. Also, McAvoy and Fassbender portray the characters so well — I truly will miss them once the MCU reboots the X-Men.

My favorite part? Seeing Peter Maximoff (Evan Peters), aka Quicksilver, back in action. Quicksilver’s been one of my favorite characters for a long time, so it was refreshing to have his energetic and humorous self contribute to the film. What irritates me the most about his arc in this movie is how little we see of him. He is barely in the film, which confuses me — isn’t he apart of the X-Men? Why wasn’t he involved with the larger conflict? It’s not even addressed since he randomly pops up in the last few minutes of the film without any reason as to why he was missing from the entire story.

Overall, the film does not represent diversity too well. The majority of the cast are white males, with the occasional white female and one Black woman. There was a line in the film that discussed how the women were always saving the men, therefore, the team should be renamed to the X-Women. Now, that would’ve been nice to hear had it not sounded so forced. I am all for powerful and leading female superheroes, but this line has no correlation to the plot. Essentially, the line was used to present girl power and garner a cheap pop from viewers, but it did the complete opposite and left the audience saying, “That’s great, but how does this tie into the movie?”

With Disney acquiring the rights to the X-Men, I hope to see these characters officially in the MCU at some point. Since the multiverse is now being addressed in Phase 4, me might very well see our favorite mutants return to the big screen sometime soon. WandaVision has already recruited Evan Peters to portray Wanda’s deceased brother Pietro — but is he actually playing Peter Maximoff? Who knows! All I know is that I would love to see Magneto and Wanda interact, since she is actually depicted as his daughter in most comics — talk about an interesting dynamic to tap into there!

Dark Phoenix is now streaming on HBO Max.