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X-Men: Dazzler's Long, Glittering Journey to the Big Screen

Dark Phoenix will feature the display of fan-favorite mutant Alison Blaire, aka, Dazzler. It took seventeen years of X-Men films to introduce the character, and yet, from Dazzler's inception, her appearing in a film has been the end goal.

The pop-star mutant was created to be a star -- not just in the pages of the comics, but on the big screen. But though attempts have been made since her creation in 1978 to bring Dazzler to the big screen, it took until 2019 to make it happen.

So what happened? Why did this character, who was created to be a cross-media sensation, take this long to make it into live-action?

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Dazzler's Inception

In the '70s, Casablanca Records commissioned Marvel to create a new superhero to be used in a cross-media extravaganza. The plan was to introduce The Disco Queen in an animated special while also creating a real-life singer persona of the character. Jim Shooter, Marvel Comics' editor-in-chief at the time, wrote the screenplay and tasked Tom DeFalco and John Romita Jr. with fleshing the character out.

The special was soon reimagined as a full-length, live-action feature film. The hero's name had been changed to Dazzler (per the recommendation of comic book writer Roger Stern), and Bo Derek, one of the biggest stars of the early '80s, was on board to portray her. The film had a script and lead actress, but no director, so Derek proposed -- then insisted -- Filmworks hire her husband, John Derek, to direct. The studio refused, so Bo walked and Dazzler was denied her movie debut.

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Dazzler in X-Men

Plans for Dazzler being a big, multimedia character fizzled out, but her story was far from over. She ended up having a long and stories career in the comics, first as a solo character who was introduced as one of the biggest pop/disco stars in the Marvel Universe, then as a member of the X-Men. Her movie debut did eventually happen, in a way, when Shooter's script was repurposed into a graphic novel titled, appropriately enough, Dazzler: The Movie, illustrated by Frank Springer.

Dazzler's first non-comics appearance was in the animated X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men pilot, which led to the long-running animated X-Men series on Fox Kids. Though she wasn't an original member of the team on the fondly-remembered show, she did play a key role in the show's adaptation of the Dark Phoenix Saga shortly after her introduction. By the time Wolverine and the X-Men arrived, she was reduced to background cameo appearances.

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Despite her steady comic book presence in the decades since her debut, the character never appeared in the film franchise, to the frustration of her loyal fanbase. The X-Men films have featured tons of cameos of mutants who otherwise didn't have a role in the story; Jubilee, for example, appeared in several movies despite having no real role in the narratives, but Dazzler remained noticeably absent...

Absent, that is, until X-Men: Days of Future Past -- sort of. The film featured a number of mutants from throughout X-Men film history including, at one point in the scripting process, Dazzler. Even better, she was supposed to be played by future Academy Award Winner Lady Gaga! It all seemed too good to be true...

Because it was. The casting of Dazzler in Days of Future Past turned out to be an elaborate April Fools Day joke, and once gain, the character's silver screen destiny was denied.

Dazzler 80s costume

Dazzler's Big Movie Moment: Deleted

When X-Men: Apocalypse came around, rumors spread once more of Dazzler finally making her cinematic debut. The usual dismissal and disbelief gave way to excitement when it was confirmed that Dazzler would make her debut in the film... sort of.

Dazzler's big moment came in a mall scene where the young X-Men, socializing and chatting, go to to hang out. They group of young mutants go to a record store where Dazzler, a pop sensation, was being advertised. Everyone seemed to love this idea...

Until it ended up on the cutting room floor.

Once again, we had another moment where Dazzler was teased, promised, only to be ultimately dropped for time. Dazzler served little function in the narrative, and, therefore, was cut.

Now, however, at the very end of the X-Men film franchise, Dazzler will finally appear in all her live-action glory. To be specific, she already has, in the video for Emeli Sandé's "Extraordinary Being," the first song from the film to be released.

This moment might only be a small part in the final chapter of Fox's decades-long X-Men saga, but for Dazzler fans, it's huge. The character, who was literally created to be a major cross-media sensation, will finally get a brief chance to shine on the big screen, if only briefly.

Hopefully, it will be worth the journey.

 

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