X-Men: Dark Phoenix is set in the 1990s and revolves around one of Professor X’s favorite most students Jean Grey who is gifted with telekinetic and telepathic powers. Those familiar with the X-Men film franchise would remember that X-Men:The Last Stand (2006) already dealt with the story of Jean Grey which makes Dark Phoenix a remake of sorts. It is generally believed that the 2006 film failed to do justice to the larger-than-life story of Jean Grey. Now, mutants are endowed with special powers and are classified based on their special abilities. As revealed in The Last Stand, Jean is a Class 5 mutant which makes her the most powerful being on the planet. This alone is good enough to tempt the makers to try another standalone film about the character, especially since the original had failed to live up to the true potential of the Jean Grey storyline. What must have added fuel to it is the growing popularity of female superheroes / action heroes such as Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, or Rey in the new Star Wars trilogy.
In order to avoid any confusion it is important to understand that Dark Phoenix is the direct sequel to X-Men: Apocalypse (2016). Dark Phoenix also benefits from the fact that X-Men: Days of the Future Past (2014) had erased the events of The Last Stand from the X-Men timeline. This allows the writers to come up a fresh take on Jean’s rise as the Dark Phoenix. While the basic premise about Jean turning rogue is pretty much the same there are several new plot developments. One major difference of course is the absence of Wolverine who was instrumental to Jean’s eventual fate in the film. Another interesting element is the inclusion of an alien race in Dark Phoenix. Also, instead of the old Charles Xavier and Magneto here we have their younger selves. All this makes Dark Phoenix very different from The Last Stand.
Roger Ebert, the late American film critic, had written in his 1982 review of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, “Star Trek stories have always been best when they centered around their characters.” It wouldn’t be wrong to say the same about the X-Men stories. Whenever they are good it is so because of the characters. Now, some reviewers have complained that Dark Phoenix is all about Jean Grey and characters like Professor X, Magneto, Raven, Hank, Storm, and Cyclops don’t get the necessary attention that they deserve. I personally don’t agree with this accusation, for all these characters get sufficient space. Let’s not forget that the film is ultimately about Jean Grey’s transformation into Dark Phoenix. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why Wolverine’s character was dropped. Such is Hugh Jackman’s popularity that he tends to overshadow everyone else and the makers were wary of this.
Dark Phoenix features many memorable moments and some amazing action sequences and while it may not be the best X-Men film by any means it certainly proves to be a worthy final outing for our beloved X-Men characters before Marvel finally takes over the reins from Fox.