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SYFY WIRE Dark Phoenix

Dark Phoenix's ending was changed to avoid similarities to another superhero movie

By Benjamin Bullard
Character poster for Dark Phoenix

It looks as though there may have been more to that big Dark Phoenix finale do-over than just a need for some beefed-up storytelling. In a film calendar more crammed than ever before with comic book blockbusters, the delayed next X-Men movie had to scurry back into the studio to avoid an ending that otherwise might’ve looked just a tad too familiar to moviegoers, according to James McAvoy.

Speaking with Yahoo! Movies UK, McAvoy (who plays Charles Xavier) and Michael Fassbender (Magneto) said the much buzzed-about reshoots, which reportedly changed the film’s original ending from a space setting to a train escape, were done to make Dark Phoenix stand out from another recent superhero film — though neither would say which one. 

“The finale had to change,” McAvoy explained of the long-gestating Dark Phoenix. “There was a lot of overlap and parallels with another superhero movie that came out... a while ago. And we had no idea that we were [shooting something similar].”

Without pointing a finger directly at any of their box office peers, Fassbender went one step further, joking that the mysterious other movie had “spies on set” for Dark Phoenix. More seriously, both actors agreed that the can’t-be-named film indeed appeared to be mining the same source material, at least for its finale, as Dark Phoenix

What movie seems the likeliest candidate? Possibly Captain Marvel — not only for its ending’s epic outer space showdown, but also for its relatively close development timeline. As Yahoo! points out, the Disney-Fox merger was unfolding around the same time as Dark Phoenix entered post-production in late 2017, so it’s also possible that fellow Marvel movie Avengers: Endgame, which wrapped in early 2018, is also a possibility.

Of course Avengers: Infinity War and Thor: Ragnarok also had some space elements to their final showdowns against Thanos and Hela. But Infinity War wrapped in the summer of 2017, and Thor: Ragnarok entered post-production all the way back in October of 2016 — nearly a year before Dark Phoenix began filming.

Director Simon Kinberg said last month that the Dark Phoenix reshoots were done to help balance its action “in a way that feels calibrated with the drama” of the movie. So, taken alongside McAvoy and Fassbender’s new insights, it sounds as though a number of factors converged to force the Dark Phoenix cast back onto the set. 

Whatever the reason, at least the finished film’s still on the way. Starring Sophie Turner as Jean Grey, Dark Phoenix rises in theaters on June 7.