The way that superhero/comic book movies are received by audiences is beginning to feel a bit like high school. If a film is thought to be popular, there are those who make up their mind about it before they have even taken the time to get to figure out if their expectations will be met. And then there are those films that the masses decide are a waste even before they have been released. We have seen this fan-backlash before, and it seemed that every comic-book fan I knew would roll their eyes at the mention of Dark Phoenix, long before it was in theaters. I find this mob mentality to be ironically tantamount to the popularity cliques of high school that likely made life miserable for most of the same comic book fans without ever taking the time to get to know them.
I know that these are just movies and don’t have feelings, but my only point is that it is never helpful to make up your mind without having all of the facts. I went into Dark Phoenix without expectations or ill-will, and actually found it pretty enjoyable. Was it a masterpiece? Not even close. But it also wasn’t the same derivative and blandly safe formula that Marvel used ever since the money-hungry Disney took hold. I would rather see a movie that takes chances and fails rather than a film created with the sole purpose of pleasing the crowd, especially when that means dumbing down a formula so that a seven-year-old is more entertained than I am.
But rather than continuing to rail on the derivative and dull Marvel films, let’s discuss the failure that is Dark Phoenix. Continuing the prequel storylines from the past X-Men movies, many of which dealt with their origins, there is no need to introduce characters or give a ton of background information. And even those unfamiliar with the franchise won’t need much to catch up, as the film stands on its own even with its use of recognizable characters. At the forefront is Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), though she is dealing with all-new challenges when she absorbs a massive amount of energy on a mission in space.
When it turns out that the energy Grey absorbed was some sort of being, she begins to transform into Dark Phoenix, more powerful than ever before and filled with an uncharacteristic rage. If there is one truly annoying thing about the film, it is the way that Dark Phoenix is momentarily used to reignite the stupid rivalry between Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender). I’m sure even these two actors are tiring of the bickering between their characters, while other actors appear so desperate to leave the franchise that it results in the laziest death since Han Solo in the Star Wars reboot.
I acknowledge that this film has major story issues and several characters the franchise seems incompetent in handling, but I also think that the action is the most important part of the superhero genre. And while it isn’t groundbreaking, I enjoyed much of the action far more than some of the more popular Marvel releases of late. I guess what I am asking is, what makes this film so much worse than the other superhero crap? How is this any worse than the cheesy after-school-special ending of Shazam or the horrible time-travel plot-holes of Avengers: Endgame? That’s not to say it is particularly good, but I also don’t think it is that much worse than any of the other superhero nonsense that makes its way onto screen each month.
The Blu-ray release for Dark Phoenix comes with a digital copy of the film as well (no DVD copy, however). The special features on the disc itself include a handful of deleted scenes (with optional commentary), a 5-part making-of documentary, and a feature-length commentary track with director Simon Kinberg and producer Hutch Parker. Most of it feels promotional and self-congratulatory rather than informative, unfortunately.
Entertainment Value: 7.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6.5/10
Historical Significance: 6/10
Special Features: 6/10