‘Dark Phoenix’ is the perfect example of why any other superhero movie that isn’t continuously chuckling at itself or at the characters even while battling or superhero films not produced to a set template are just doomed to fail at the writing board itself, and that is through no doing of their own. Call it serious bias, or call it plain brainwashing. It appalls me as a reviewer that a completely mediocre movie like ‘Captain Marvel’ that didn’t have a single exhilarating moment for me sits at a mind-numbingly high 78%, and ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ could only manage a meager 21%. I by no means say that the latter is a knock out of the park: it is in fact quite flawed at places and mostly humorless, something that I could appreciate given the tone of the film but at the same time realize to be something that would affect general cinema-going audiences.
Despite these flaws, and attack me for it if you might, it is better than half of the MCU movies out there that didn’t make me twitch an eye for anything going on the screen. ‘Infinity War’ and ‘Endgame’ do not belong in this ballpark of films and were rather excellent in my opinion, so I’d voluntarily keep them out of this discussion, but if you are tired of browsing the internet reading dour reviews of the latest and final Fox X-Men film from the saga that has by now sporadically spawned over two decades, know that you should give it a chance. Piece of advice though: don’t expect every superhero movie to be an MCU flick, which is what’s inevitably supposed to happen as Disney CEO Bob Iger announced the studio’s ambitious plans to merge the X-Men with the MCU. Without the variety, I don’t know where we’d be.
Personally, I have been a fan of the X-Men franchise and films from the first one that came out at the start of the millennium. For me, as I have mentioned in a ton of articles before, X-Men seemed like the perfect balance between the light and funny offerings of the MCU and the dark and intensely heavy outings of the erstwhile DCEU. It is also woefully remarkable how just the theme of the X-Men as characters is painfully resonant in today’s times too: that humans despise and ultimately depose of something that they can’t fathom and discriminate not just among themselves, but against anything that is not them, is what drives the stories of these mutants above regular superhero drivel.
I have been a serious DC fan all my life and will continue to be one, but X-Men is one cherished Marvel property that I have grabbed a fair bit of copies of on pulp. Back to the film, admittedly so, ‘Dark Phoenix’ tips a bit over to the darker side here, and while yet again, I don’t have a problem with it seeing as though it held my attention for all its 104 minute runtime, I can see why the “critics” would have a problem with it. God forbid a movie about super-powered mutated beings tackle some serious themes without a forced joke. The comparisons can go on and on, but that still wouldn’t decipher as to why clearly a disconnect exists in between the professionals and the thousands of movie goers that resonate with me here.
Now being a fan, I would have wanted to see the characters, only now looking to being completely developed, progress in this universe and explore their powers and the family they have been a part of since the beginning. However, if the end seems a little abrupt to you, it’s because it was, ushered in involuntarily on account of billions in commerce between Fox and Disney, things that you and I have little control over. However, this is the film that we are left with, and since it isn’t half as bad as people are making it out to be, I will continue my crusade in the sections that follow. Read on.