X-Men: Dark Phoenix – A Risky Second Chance for Fox

X-Men: Dark Phoenix – A Risky Second Chance for Fox

The X-Men franchise has seen its ups and downs, but Fox is not ready to let go of it just yet. With the departure of Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Ian McKellen, and the waning interest in the next-gen cast led by Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, and Michael Fassbender, Fox is in dire need of a successful X-Men film.

Desperate Times for the X-Men Franchise

Logan was a fitting farewell for a cast that had outgrown their roles, and while Deadpool is going strong, its R-rating limits its box office potential. Meanwhile, Matthew Vaughn, who revived the franchise with 2011’s X-Men: First Class, has moved on to other projects.

Fox is scrambling to find a way to keep the public invested in Marvel’s mutants before interest wanes completely. They have three movies set to release next year, including a New Mutants spinoff, and are venturing into television with shows like The Gifted and Deadpool. The last thing they want is for Marvel Studios to reacquire the property and reap the profits they once enjoyed.

Enter X-Men: Dark Phoenix

X-Men: Dark Phoenix – A Risky Second Chance for Fox

The next mainline X-Men movie, Dark Phoenix, is scheduled for release in November 2022. As the title suggests, it will be an adaptation of the acclaimed Dark Phoenix Saga, one of the most celebrated and memorable storylines in comic book history. The saga follows Jean Grey as she unleashes her inner beast, becoming a cosmic powerhouse and committing genocide against an unsuspecting planet. The Shi’ar, an avian race of aliens, demand that she be held accountable for her actions, leading to a climactic battle on the moon.

Published in 1980, the storyline is deeply rooted in nearly two decades’ worth of adventures. Jean’s dynamic arc sees her straddling the line between “liberated woman” and supervillain, eventually finding redemption in her final moments. It’s a complex, sexually charged narrative that is inseparable from her origins as a 1960s female character who oscillated between love interest and maternal figure.

A Second Chance at the Dark Phoenix Saga

X-Men: Dark Phoenix – A Risky Second Chance for Fox

Fox previously attempted to adapt the storyline in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, a film so notoriously bad that it nearly killed the entire franchise. Now, with Days of Future Past having rebooted the movie continuity, they’re taking another shot at it.

Dark Phoenix will be set in the 1990s, roughly a decade after the new Scott Summers and Jean Grey were introduced in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse. The relationship they began in that film will have developed off-screen, bringing us to the status quo of the 1980 story arc.

The rest of the core cast, including Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique), James McAvoy (Professor Xavier), and Michael Fassbender (Magneto), is set to appear in the film alongside them. Presumably, the focus will be on the younger generation of mutants introduced in Apocalypse, such as Nightcrawler, Jubilee, and Storm.

A Risky Directorial Choice

X-Men: Dark Phoenix – A Risky Second Chance for Fox

Given the importance of this second chance, one would expect Fox to choose a proven, big-name director to helm the film. However, their decision to hire Simon Kinberg has raised eyebrows. While Kinberg is an accomplished writer and producer who has worked on the X-Men films for over a decade, he has never directed a film. Dark Phoenix will be his directorial debut, and to make matters worse, he wrote The Last Stand, the first failed attempt to bring this story to the big screen.

It’s one thing to try to adapt a beloved story again after the first attempt failed, as was the case with Netflix’s Daredevil. It’s another thing entirely to entrust the project to the same person who botched it the first time around.

Fox’s decision is a risky one, and it remains to be seen whether X-Men: Dark Phoenix will fare better than its predecessor. For now, fans may be more inclined to look forward to Deadpool 2 and New Mutants in 2022.

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