WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Dark Phoenix, in theaters now.
Dark Phoenix is one final chance for Fox to showcase all the mutants we've come to know over the 19 years of the franchise as our heroes face off against the might of the Phoenix Force. There are dozens of mutants that show up, technically, but Dark Phoenix features surprisingly few displays of mutant powers, aside from what you'd expect to see from the X-Men.
That said, the extra mutants that do turn up with the proverbial guns blazing are definitely memorable. Below we run down all the notable mutants in Dark Phoenix, and you can judge for yourself whether the franchise finale could have, or should have, done more with with the catalog of characters available. We're only counting the mutants here, so Vuk and the alien D'Bari aren't included.
Alison Blaire finally makes her live-action debut in Dark Phoenix, with an outfit that matches at least one of the comic book costumes and doesn't seem at all out of place, given what she's doing. Just as her comic book counterpart would, Dazzler (played by Halston Sage) can be seen filling a party with life, with both a light show and a song. We're treated to a bit of the song, but unfortunately, Dazzler's role is limited that one moment. The camera pans away and we never see her again.
Her inclusion is likely a nod to the original "Dark Phoenix Saga," in which Dazzler played a substantial role in aiding the X-Men against the forces of the Hellfire Club, who don't appear in the film.
At the beginning of the party sequence, we see a group of young mutants gathered in the woods. In the middle ground of the shot, a portal opens and two students walk through. It's difficult to see who those mutants are, but it's safe to assume that one of them is Blink.
In the comics, Blink can to teleport with the use of portals. She appeared briefly in X-Men: Days of Future Past, played by Fan Bingbing, in which she valiantly fought against Sentinels. Her story was never told, but seeing as how she shows up in a student party near the X-Mansion, it's safe to assume that in this universe, she was a student of Xavier's in her youth.
You might have a difficult time trying to figure out Magneto's hair-whipping henchman, recognizable only by his long, black locks. He's an original character introduced in Dark Phoenix, and used as little more than fodder in some of the film's fight scenes. His mutant abilities seem to be limited to using his hair as weapons of questionable effectiveness. He first appears on Magneto's little island refuge of Genosha, and has no lines.
After the fight in New York, Ariki disappears from the film. The odd thing about the character is that the actor, Andrew Stehlin, was originally reported to be cast as Red Lotus. The film doesn't feature any such character, and Ariki bears no similarities with Lotus. It's probably a good thing, as -- judging by Ariki's role -- it would have been a waste.
Without a formal introduction, it would be difficult to tell who this resident of Genosha is. The powerful psychic by Magneto's side, dressed in a punk rocker-type outfit is none other than Selene. Unlike her comic book counterpart, Selene shows off powerful telepathic abilities and not much else. She faces off against the X-Men in New York, and is later killed by the D'Bari without ever being explored as a character.
In the comics, Selene is the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club. She's an ancient mutant who was worshiped as a goddess long ago. Often described as a "psychic vampire," Selene is able to drain the life forces of her foes and maintain a telepathic hold over them. She has a wide array of other powers, but it's not clear which stem from mutation and which from her knowledge of the mystic arts.
Erik Lehnsherr returns for Dark Phoenix, this time drawn back into battle after the death of Mystique. When he first appears in the film, he's leading and guarding the mutant island sanctuary, Genosha. Once again, he seems to have found a peaceful life until Jean arrives with blood on her clothes, asking vague questions. He dons his helmet for practical reasons, but leaves the cloak and suit at home in favor of a more modern -- and far less-campy -- look.
Although he sets out to avenge Mystique by killing Jean, he decides against it in the end, and defends her against the D'Bari, until she rises and takes care of them all herself. In the final scene, we see Erik arrive, no worse for wear, despite everything he's been through (and that he's supposed to be entering his 60s), playing Xavier in one last game of chess in a nod to the earlier films.
What would an X-Men film be without the famous band of mutants? Of course, Charles Xavier returns with his team, including Mystique, Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, Beast and Quicksilver. However, the plot of Dark Phoenix focuses mainly on just two characters, one of them being Xavier. We see a different side of him than what the previous films were able to show us.
Unfortunately, that means the other X-Men are forced into the background for much of the movie, showing up a couple of times in the beginning in comic book-inspired gold-and-blue costumes. We see them use their powers in fights, Mystique's death does drive a lot of the plot and Beast does get a moment or two, but other than that, these characters don't receive much story. Xavier and Jean are the only ones who get real character arcs.
Jean Grey story as Dark Phoenix is clear, and offers her plenty of moments to display her awesome powers, although they usually manifest as telekinetic attacks or large, multicolored clouds that may or may not turn those caught within to ash.
Her story has potential, but it isn't as well explored as many would like. We find out that Jean unintentionally caused a car accident that took her mother's life, and that Xavier helped her to repress those memories to spare her from the trauma. Upon discovering that, Jean understandably feels betrayed, and lashes out as her rage and desire is augmented by the mysterious cosmic force she absorbed in space. The story with regard to Jean and Xavier isn't too dissimilar to X-Men: The Last Stand, although the ending is vastly different.
Directed and written by Simon Kinberg, Dark Phoenix stars James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters and Jessica Chastain.