By the time Dark Phoenix arrives this summer, it’ll be a very different movie from the one 20th Century Fox had in the bag when original filming wrapped all the way back in 2017.
Last year’s now-infamous round of extensive reshoots for the movie’s third act came right in the middle of all the talk about the X-Men rejoining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, once Disney acquired the franchise back from Fox. Since then, there’s been tons of speculation about whether Dark Phoenix will bear the newly-added weight of putting a bow on Fox’s style of X-Men storytelling — and whether giving the movie’s ending a complete do-over has anything to do with it.
**There are possible spoilers ahead for Dark Phoenix. Steer clear of what lies ahead (including the official trailer below) if you want to maintain the suspense until after you’ve seen the movie**
We still don’t know a definitive answer there, but at least we have a better idea of what those reshoots actually changed. Instead of preserving a third act that would have framed the finale in outer space, reports Entertainment Weekly, the new Dark Phoenix ending “finds all the X-Men kidnapped and on board a military train.”
Dark Phoenix writer and director Simon Kinberg told EW the change was made for the sake of making a better movie, and that his mind wasn’t on the larger fate of the franchise with Disney’s takeover of the X-Men waiting in the wings.
“When you’re making a movie, you’re so inside the process that you’re not thinking about the executives who are going to be around for the premiere,” Kinberg said, adding later that the reshoots were all about making the film itself feel more complete on its own: “I think the biggest challenge is modulating the film so that we have the big scale and visual-effects action that these movies require, but balancing that in a way that feels calibrated with the drama.”
With some announced X-Men projects getting reworked and delayed (i.e. New Mutants, though that is more a horror-centric spin-off), and other in-development projects having gone silent for now (Gambit), it appears that fans will eye Dark Phoenix — slated to release in June — as the franchise’s last chance to bring its pre-MCU era to a fitting and satisfying end. If so, the timing will dovetail nicely with Marvel Studios’ still-young plans for the next phase of the MCU — which, of course, fans are hoping will include the X-Men in a big way.
Marvel president Kevin Feige alluded to that distant future recently, telling Variety he’s finally able to regard the X-Men as big contributors on Marvel’s home team.
“The specifics of what it means remains to be seen, but overall it’s wonderful and it feels like these characters have come home,” he said. “It will be nice to have what every other [intellectual property] holder that I can think of has, which is access to all their IP. Imagine if Donald Duck was at another studio. Imagine if Goofy or Moana were someplace else and you didn’t have access to them even though they are yours.”
Elsewhere, Feige also has said that it’ll still be a “very long time” before any X-Men characters find their way into an MCU movie, suggesting that projects that’ve already been announced as part of Feige’s “five-year plan” for the MCU may be too far into development to incorporate them just yet.
In the meantime, though, there’s enough drama within the current X-Men universe (goodbye, Mystique!) to give fans plenty to chew on before the franchise finds new legs. Dark Phoenix, with its train-focused new third act, chugs into theaters everywhere starting June 7.