X-Men: Dark Phoenix was the conclusion of the film series that had been with us since 2000. A lot was promised of this film undoing the wrongs from the previous attempt of the “Dark Phoenix Saga”, but these backfired as the movie is now considered by most as the worst of the franchise.
Since the story didn’t resonate with fans and critics, it’s appropriate to look into the changes that the movie made from the comic book storyline and how this impacted proceedings; it’s also worth mentioning the things that remained the same as well. Whether you liked Dark Phoenix or not, here are 8 changes that spelled a different movie, and 2 points from the comics that weren’t changed.
10 Same: Phoenix In Space
X-Men: The Last Stand changed Jean Grey’s Phoenix Force to be one where it was a suppressed split personality of hers awakened when she’d died in X2, but this wasn’t how it went in the comics. Dark Phoenix got it right by placing Jean in space for her to unlock the Phoenix Force.
The Force was the result of a solar flare, that removed the mental blocks Jean had in place. The film did change things up a little by having the X-Men be in space for different reasons compared to the comics, but overall it was about the same.
9 Changed: No Wolverine
If you want to thank a story for making 2000’s X-Men a possibility (and beginning the 19-year franchise) then you have the “Dark Phoenix Saga” to thank. The comic book storyline made Wolverine the apex X-Man, thanks to him showing off his true ravenous character.
The comics had Wolverine be the sole free X-Man from an assault by the Hellfire Club, and the cliffhanger in place for the next issue exploded X-Men in popularity. Wolverine was placed front and center from there on out, and as we all know, Dark Phoenix has none of Wolverine it.
8 Changed: No Hellfire Club
The Hellfire Club were the supervillain society who posed as the foes of the X-Men in the “Dark Phoenix Saga”. This gang has been seen for decades, and its most notable members are Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost. Yes, we’re talking about the same antagonists you saw in X-Men: First Class – the series chose to introduce these guys in an earlier film.
In the comics, the Club ended up ambushing the X-Men and sending them all into the backfoot, which would then usher in the next phase of the arc. The film instead chose to have Jean Grey’s mental problems be the reason why the main conflict takes place.
7 Changed: No Uatu
This guy had no role to play in the comic book story, and only appeared in the stinger of the climax. You might remember his big face from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, where he and a few subordinates huddled around Stan Lee watching the universe.
He served as the Watcher in this story as well, with Uatu commenting how Jean Grey’s sacrifice changed the possibilities for the universe. His immortal words had him claim that Jean could’ve lived to be a god, but chose to die as a human instead. The films didn’t mention any Watchers, which makes sense considering the X-Men film series never went full-on cosmic.
6 Changed: Professor X Retiring
Without having Professor X move on, the X-Men film series would’ve felt incomplete. After all, we’d seen him be the leader the entire series, and Logan was set in the far future, which meant Dark Phoenix needed to have him do something significant – in the end, he stepped away for Beast to take his place as Headmaster of the school.
The comics, though, had none of this sort, and Professor X remained in the same position. What was different, however, was Cyclops retiring from the X-Men to go find himself. The movie switched this up with Professor X retiring, in order for him to be reunited with Magneto.
5 Same: Jean Grey's Sacrifice
The film had Jean regain her senses once Professor X was able to get through to her, after which she proceeded to go to space with Vuk and kill the antagonist there. The implications here was that she had completed her potential and was now within space.
In the comic storyline, we saw Jean complete her sacrifice, as she is snapped out of her evil mode – accomplished here by all the X-Men – and then proceeds to take herself out. In the comic book, Jean herself was the final opponent, and her sacrifice was done in order for her not to harm anyone else. Her death was shown by her disintegrating.
4 Changed: Avengers' Member
By a member of the Avengers, we mean someone you’ve seen plenty of times in the X-Men film series by now – that man being Beast. Since the Avengers don’t exist in the film universe of the X-Men, there was no mention of anyone ever being in the faction, but the comics had seen Beast be an Avenger.
Here, Beast had more of a minor role, and would basically cross over for this arc into the X-Men story. It was explicitly mentioned, too, that Beast was an Avenger and a former X-Man in the “Dark Phoenix Saga”.
3 Changed: No Kree And Skrulls
When the comics want to make sure fans see a new threat as the real deal, it throws in mention of Galactus. This being is a planet-eater, so you can make out yourself how an antagonist compared to him is perceived as a gamechanger.
To this end, the “Dark Phoenix Saga” had Kree and Skrull empires both declare that the Phoenix Force was so dangerous, that it was a bigger threat than Galactus himself. Jean would ultimately take her own life by using a Kree weapon, which was an ancient tool whose capabilities enabled her to destroy the Phoenix Force.
2 Changed: Main Antagonist
Dark Phoenix played it pretty straight by making the alien Vuk be the antagonist and have her manipulate Jean; the ending seeing Vuk be killed. Vuk would also remain throughout the film, with no other curveballs coming our way.
In the comic story, however, there were multiple antagonists and events, as things kicked off with the villain called Mastermind manipulating Jean, and bringing in the Hellfire Club. After Jean enacted revenge for being manipulated by Mastermind, she would become the antagonist herself by killing billions in different worlds. The villains would increase when the Shi’ar alien race would abduct the X-Men for Jean’s deeds before a truce allowed them to walk free. In the end, Jean would again become the villain and make her sacrifice.
1 Changed: Almost All The X-Men
Due to X-Men: Days of Future Past’s wonky time travel implications, the X-Men we saw in Dark Phoenix were quite different than the comic book version. The film had Magneto of all characters being an ally to the group, and they included Quicksilver, Beast, Mystique – none of these were in the X-Men during the “Dark Phoenix Saga".
In place of these characters, we had previously established superheroes like Banshee, Colossus, and Wolverine among the ranks. For various reasons, these characters weren’t seen in Dark Phoenix, which gives it a major overhaul of sorts compared to the comics, since the absentees had sizable contributions to the story.