Dark Phoenix will mark the last Fox-owned outing of the X-Men, as Disney is set to acquire Fox's film properties on March 21. The film will take the latest generation of on-screen X-Men last seen in X-Men: Apocalypse through an adaptation of the classic "Dark Phoenix Saga" from writer/director Simon Kinberg. But will it be a solid ending to this iteration of mutants on the big screen, or is it primed to disappoint fans?
Initial reactions to Dark Phoenix pointed out on the film's similarity to 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand: identical costume choices, plot points, and even scenes seemingly directly lifted from the previous film. These comparisons have been troubling to those hoping to see an authentic adaptation of the classic "Dark Phoenix Saga," especially considering Brett Ratner's The Last Stand failed to deliver on the emotional depth of the story. Of course, the original's failure was largely due to the removal of a key member of the storyline early on in the film, which looks to be the biggest difference between these two adaptations. Whatever other problems Dark Phoenix may have, at least it got one thing right by having Scott Summers/Cyclops play a large role in the film.
On the surface, this seems like a no-brainer. Of course Cyclops would factor into an X-Men tale that largely revolves around the relationship between Scott and Jean! However, The Last Stand threw this out the window early in the film, when Jean Grey murdered Cyclops after her rebirth. Counting on the popularity of Hugh Jackman's Wolverine to carry the film, Ratner and Co. decided to write James Marsden's Cyclops out after issues developed with the actor's availability due to his role in Bryan Singer's Superman Returns. This left the story without its emotional core, and with Wolverine as a cheap stand-in, the film failed to come close to hitting the same notes as its comic book inspiration.
Dark Phoenix looks to be increasing the scope of its adaptation by taking the story to space like the original comic. But as it remains rooted in the mythology of the films that came before, it is perhaps unintentionally replicating what didn't work about The Last Stand. Thankfully the film has a saving grace: Tye Sheridan as Cyclops. Not to undercut Sophie Turner's Jean Grey, but the character's transformation from Jean to Dark Phoenix feels too familiar at this point. Scott's reactions to everything happening with Jean, on the other hand, will be new and should deepen the connections between these characters as things get dark for the X-Men in this final Fox outing.