Even before Dark Phoenix hit theaters back in June, we knew we were about to see a film with an ending unlike what its creators had originally planned. Star James McAvoy let slip back in May that some of those Dark Phoenix reshoots were specifically so they could alter the conclusion of the film to eliminiate similarities to another superhero film that came out before the final Fox X-Men adventure, and co-star Tye Sheridan later revealed certain details suggesting that Skrulls might have been incorporated into the original ending. However Dark Phoenix was supposed to end, those of us who pay attention to these things knew going in that there was an entirely different finale on a cutting room floor somewhere.
Now, we're getting a better peek at what that deleted ending might have looked like thanks to Houston Sharp, a concept artist who worked on the film and whose other credits also include Wonder Woman and Rampage. In a series of posts to his Instagram page, Sharp revealed some of his concept work for the film including everything from slightly different takes on moments we did see to moments that never made it to the final film at all.
In the theatrical ending of Dark Phoenix, Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) managed to take control of the Phoenix Force within her after Charles Xavier (McAvoy) was able to reach her, and the X-Men fought off the shapeshifting D'Bari aliens together. Jean ended the battle entirely by flying into space with the D'Bari leader, Vuk (Jessica Chastain), and seemingly exploding in a final burst of Phoenix energy, though the film later hinted that she was still alive somewhere out in space. For a film that set up a shapeshifiting alien invasion and put a cosmic force of unimaginable power inside Jean, it was actually a somewhat grounded ending.
According to Sharp, that ending replaced something that would have been bigger in scope and considerably more cosmic in its setting. His concept art shows an invasion from an alien armada that launched a swarm of small ships to attack Jean, who would have fought them off as she evolved into her final form as the Phoenix. Here's what that might have looked like, based on his art.
Is this the alien invasion Cyclops and Xavier would have warned the UN about in the ending Sheridan discussed? It certainly looks like it, and it also does bear certain similarities to Captain Marvel's ending, in which she fights off a Kree force led by Ronan the Accuser that includes both a swarm of smaller ships and the bigger carriers that dispatched them. Having seen this, it's understandable that the studio might have gotten nervous about the similarities and wanted a change, but it would still be cool to see this play out with Jean Grey in all her Phoenix glory.