The final X-Men movie is out, and it hasn’t made the critics happy at all. Apparently, they are all going hard at a film, which is not as bad as they’re making it seem. X-Men: Dark Phoenix was always going to be difficult to pull off because it was supposed to correct the mistakes that The Last Stand made, but more importantly, it was coming out at the time when people knew that Disney will get a hold of Fox properties, and that will be it for the franchise.
The critics have been wrong about many other films. Venom is a major example of that. Apparently, everyone that saw the film absolutely loved it, except the critics. The first film of Sony‘s Universe of Marvel Characters made $855 Million at the Box Office, but it suffered when the critical acclaim came in.
Venom got an RT score of 29% when people were actually coming out of the film happy. If you consider a different & opposite example, then the Ghostbusters (2016) reboot is a perfect matter to talk about.
Ghostbuster got a 74% Fresh score for a film that was so bad, idiotic and a completely visual disaster. It is a perfect example of how critics make a big mistake in judging movies many-a-times. And unfortunately, X-Men: Dark Phoenix has fallen prey to it. Dark Phoenix would have always suffered considering the bad press that surrounded it. The writing was always on the wall with this film. No matter what it did, things would have gone this way.
This article contains spoilers for X-Men: Dark Phoenix
X-Men: Dark Phoenix has got the lowest RT score (22% Rotten) in the entire X-Men franchise when it is actually better than the likes of Apocalypse and The Last Stand. It’s almost like people had already made up their minds that this film is going to be bad. It was a subject to massive reshoots because the director had to change the entire direction of the film, and end the franchise within this movie itself.
Apparently, X-Men: Dark Phoenix would have been much different than the version that we got. It would have led to another X-Men movie, but since Disney had already gotten into the loop, the creatives of this film had to change the direction of the movie. That was the reason why reshoots became necessary.
They must have turned out to be costly because the sets of the film had been broken down and Kinberg & co had to do the entire third act again, but we cannot say that the reshoots harmed to movie. Sure things did become a bit cheaper, and we did feel that film wanted to tell a story which would have led to another film, but these reshoots have probably made things better for the film. The entire sequence on train towards the end was actually one of the best fights in the entire franchise!
Yes, we get the anger that comes at the film because it is not the end that the X-Men franchise deserves may be. Since this was the final movie, people were expecting it to be massive in scale and scope, but it was more on the “Average Superhero Movie” side of things. The plot ran a bit thin and character motivations kept changing suddenly throughout, but it is unworthy of the hatred directed at it.
The Phoenix Force is actually used in a much better way, which is closer to the comics. Moreover, this film actually introduces Magneto’s island, Genosha. And even without the charm of Wolverine, the story manages to stay emotionally gripping. It is driven by the death of Mystique for quite a while, but we do get a proper understanding at the motivation of Jean Grey. The big twist that his father is still alive was actually a great addition, and it did work for the story quite well.
We can throw shade at the villains of the movie, i.e. the shape-shifting aliens that were of no good ultimately. Jessica Chastain’s character and her followers were initially supposed to be Skrulls and would have been introduced to us way before Captain Marvel if this film wouldn’t have been delayed. But considering how they were changed into mediocre aliens just bad. They were shamelessly underused and were only in the film to give us the cool battle at the end. Their motivations were average, but I’m ready to forgive that for the fight that they produced in the third act! Some sequences in that segment were just marvelous.
One big problem, or rather complain that everyone has with this franchise is the under usage of Quicksilver! He made his debut in Days of Future Past, gave us one of the best sequences of the Superhero Genre, and was thrown aside. Then Apocalypse did use him in a way that was better than DOFP, but Dark Phoenix completely dropped the ball upon him. He had minimal scenes and no character development whatsoever. Dark Phoenix does exactly what DOFP did with the character but on an even grander scale.
It almost seems like the creatives have always struggled with the fact that he is an overpowered character in the franchise. Everyone who was present during the final battle gave us great moments to savor, but just imagine if the speedster was present there. Not having Quicksilver has been quite a missed opportunity for all the 3 films that he has been in. We can agree with the critics for this particular reason.
But overall, this film was a good entry. It is just the fact that it was being expected to be something bigger than what it was. If you view it individually, not comparing it with any MCU film or any other Superhero movie that you may like, then you may end up liking the movie more than you thought you would. That’s probably what the critics haven’t done.
It seems that they’ve gotten carried away with the fact that no one really cares about this franchise any more considering that Disney and Marvel will be rebooting the franchise anyway. The news updates of massive reshoots and the bad press of failed test screenings seem to have stuck with all the critics. They’ve probably just reacted keeping that in mind, and not upon what the film actually was. So yes, this film isn’t the best of the MCU, but it surely isn’t the worse.
Even with the kind of an okay ending that the franchise got, it was still better than most (especially Justice League). The Dark Phoenix ultimately turning good was a good twist to witness. Majority of us must have assumed that the death of Jean Grey is inevitable, but her survival came as a surprise. More than that, what was great was her fighting for her family. Sophie Turner was just great with what she was given, and so were James McAvoy & Michael Fassbender. The last moment with Charles and Eric getting back at Chess was pretty Nostalgic, and a cool ending for the franchise overall!
Director Simon Kinberg talked about X-Men: Dark Phoenix being the conclusion to the franchise. He said:
“Even long before the Disney of it all, three years ago, I started writing the script [for Dark Phoenix]. I approached this movie as the culmination of 20 years of storytelling, of living with the X-Men for all this time, and watching this family come together. And this movie is the movie that challenges that family, and tears them apart in a new way, and so I imagined it as the culmination. And I even pitched it to the studio as this is the culmination of this cycle of X-Men stories, which there will be more X-Men movies in the future, no doubt, but this particular cycle with this cast, it felt like it was time to do kind of what Game of Thrones has done, what Endgame has done, really see them challenged in a new way, and survive and go off into the sunset.”
Let’s just cut this film some slack, and enjoy it while it lasts.