2019 is looking like a crowded year for superhero cinema, but there is one film no one seems to be talking about: Dark Phoenix. For all the talk raised around the next few MCU and DCEU films, Fox's final independent go-around in the superhero landscape has received a ho-hum response.
To an onlooker, it might be bizarre that the once mighty X-Men franchise, which has boasted such classic superhero movies as X2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Logan, and Deadpool, is whimpering to its close. If one were to list all the films coming out this year, most people probably would forget Dark Phoenix is coming out. Men In Black International, a spin-off to a franchise that has been limping along since the blockbuster original, has garnered more excitement than Dark Phoenix.
So what gives? Why is no one talking about Dark Phoenix?
10. We've Seen it Before
It is undeniable that the X-Men franchise has made mistakes over the years. One of the biggest is X3, directed by Brett Ratner. The film attempted to tell the epic story of the Phoenix, only to muck it all up. Jean Grey's transformation into the Phoenix felt lackluster. While it made quite a bit of money, X3 left such a bad taste in the mouths of audiences that the franchise spent the better part of a decade trying to return to audiences' good graces.
While part of the appeal of Dark Phoenix is to see the legendary story done justice, the trailer demonstrated that the movie may just play out the beats of its predecessor over a decade its senior.
9. It's a Sequel to Apocalypse
X-Men Apocalypse may be unfairly criticized by some fans. It has a lot of positive points that entertained people watching it. However, the film had enough problems to leave some fans satisfied with what they had but not excited for more. For others, the film was a travesty that proved once and for all the old franchise had no legs.
Furthermore, X-Men Apocalypse felt like a finale in and of itself, bringing the story of the X-Men full-circle to where the first film started. With many of the reoccurring characters from the prior film returning for this final outing, it is hard to muster up too much excitement for a movie that left so little of an impact.
One of the reasons why no one is talking about Dark Phoenix is because it should have come out months ago. Originally, the X-Men movie was supposed to come out in November between Venom and Aquaman. It was delayed along with its partner film The New Mutants by several months. This was following months without a single trailer or mention from the studio.
This sort of delay does not put audiences at ease, since many anticipate there's probably a good reason this project keeps getting pushed back.
This is definitely a small point of contention, but the idea of aliens in an X-Men film has struck some as a little unnecessary. While aliens did play a role in the original Dark Phoenix story-line, the series has up until now kept itself focused on mutant powers. To some, the introduction of aliens this late in the saga seems more than a little odd.
To some, aliens and the X-Men go hand-in-hand. To others, the idea of a shape-shifting race of aliens appearing in a superhero film this close to Captain Marvel is more than a little suspicious.
6. Jennifer Lawrence
No one is more apathetic to the X-Men franchise than one of its stars: Jennifer Lawrence. While most people agree that the X-Men franchise sports some of the most inspired casting choices in superhero movie history, Jennifer Lawrence has been perpetually disinterested in the franchise.
This in and of itself isn't terrible, but Lawrence consistently is one of the weakest elements of the film, especially since her star power motivated the writers to turn Mystique into a blue-skinned counterpart to Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen. That being said, rumors that her character might not live through Dark Phoenix might motivate some to actually watch the film to see Lawrence get her wish: a speedy exit from the franchise.
PREVIOUSLY: 15 Characters Who Got With Mystique
5. A Weak Trailer
Trailers are by no means the be-all end-all of the movie hype game. However, a weak trailer can leave people feeling cold about a project. A franchise in the MCU can get away with a less-than-stunning first trailer, but franchise nearing its twentieth year in existence needs more than name value to draw up attention.
The first Dark Phoenix trailer wasn't bad, but it drew too many comparisons to the poorly-received X3, which left even longtime fans feeling less than excited. No one is gonna be talking about Dark Phoenix with a trailer so mediocre.
Many regard Logan as one of the best superhero films of all time. It offered fans an emotional, powerful finale to both Hugh Jackman's Wolverine and Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier. It ended the mutant saga in a fitting, cold manner that resolved several plot threads running throughout the franchise.
The story is over. Any more X-Men stories feel, at this point, redundant. If Apocalypse didn't put an end to the First Class trilogy already, Logan certainly ended the saga in a satisfying, powerful way.
If Logan ended the saga of the X-Men, Deadpool left it behind. Deadpool and its sequel's success can be traced back to a number of factors, from its popular titular character to its action to its humor. However, one thing it benefits from is its ability to render its mutant school irrelevant via its meta-commentary on superhero filmmaking.
Deadpool 2 especially leaves the X-Men behind, resulting in a resolution that makes light of the entire X-Men franchise as a whole. It's quite telling that Deadpool looks to be the only franchise that might continue following the Disney-Fox merger. Speaking of which...
2. The MCU
One reason nobody is talking about Dark Phoenix is because everyone is talking about what Marvel Studios will do with the X-Men characters once they own the rights to the full Fox-Marvel library. The prospect of Logan and Captain America fighting Hydra, or Storm fighting alongside Black Panther in Wakanda is far more exciting than, say, another X-Men film where the X-Men do stuff.
The Disney buy-out of Fox eclipsed any and all future Fox-Marvel films. It dominates the conversation, so any question about Dark Phoenix will inevitably reach the point where someone asks "If the franchise is gonna end once Disney buys it all, what's the point?"
When it comes right down to it, the biggest reason no one is talking about Dark Phoenix is because people are tired of Fox's X-Men. They're tired of the messy continuity. They are tired of Jennifer Lawrence not caring. They're tired of Bryan Singer and his directorial style. They are tired of the Marvel Universe being fragmented.
They are just tired.
Fresh blood is needed in this franchise. It came with X-Men First Class, but Dark Phoenix looks to be taking whatever remains of that fresh blood and draining it dry in this entry. The franchise was great, but it's great that it was. This film is coming at the tail end of this franchise's relevance. Fans of what have been love these characters, but there needs to be something new brought to the table. Dark Phoenix feels like something old passed off as something new -- and people can tell.