In March 2019, Captain Marvel will hit theaters starring a female Marvel hero who has fiery cosmic powers and fights shapeshifting aliens in a '90s period piece. Just a few months later, Dark Phoenix will hit theaters starring another female Marvel hero who has fiery cosmic powers and fights (at least one) shapeshifting alien in another '90s period piece.
That's not all there is to either of those movies, but they share an unusually large amount of common ground for two Marvel movies that premiere fairly close to one another. While Captain Marvel is set for release on March 8, 2019, the much-delayed Dark Phoenix is currently scheduled for release on June 7, 2019.
Right now, we don't know a lot about Captain Marvel's plot, but we know that Brie Larson's Carol Danvers will duke it out with the Skrulls, a race of shapeshifting aliens, in the early '90s. From the movie's first trailer, it also seems like the film will spend plenty of time exploring the extraterrestrial origins of her powers as she teams up with a young version of Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury.
On a similar note, Dark Phoenix will follow Sophie Turner's Jean Grey as she struggles to control the untamed cosmic power of the Phoenix. From the film's spaced-out poster and synopsis, it's clear that Jean's Phoenix powers will be at least partially extraterrestrial in origin. Jean and the rest of the X-Men will also have to deal with Jessica Chastain's unnamed alien shapeshifter, who will try to use Jean's newfound abilities for her own nefarious ends. This movie will take place in 1992, roughly 10 years after Jean's Phoenix powers first emerged in X-Men: Apocalypse.
While those two plots are hardly identical, the similarities between the films could be especially pronounced since the movies are being released so close together. Other superhero movies have been criticized for sharing far more general plot points, and the two films' specific early '90s settings, cosmic overtones and similar villains could encourage comparisons between the two. Trailers for both films premiered over the past month, each building up to shots of their respective leads consumed by crackling cosmic energy.
While Captain Marvel has the Marvel Studios pedigree of critical and commercial success, Dark Phoenix is coming in on shakier ground. The last X-Men team movie, 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse, was a mixed success. To make matters worse, Dark Phoenix has also had highly-publicized reshoots and multiple release date changes. Since it's scheduled to be released 91 days after Captain Marvel premieres, it could be easy for critics and audiences to write off Dark Phoenix as a Captain Marvel copycat.
When audiences sit down to watch these movies, they'll see Marvel's logo flash at the beginning of both. While anyone reading this article might understand the difference between a 21st Century Fox-produced X-Men movie and a Disney-produced Marvel Studios film like Captain Marvel, a lot of the people who will see these movies might not be in the know.