What X-Men:Dark Phoenix needs to get right
As I posted about previously, Fox is the studio that is pumping out the most high-quality productions with Deadpool, Logan and Legion. While that’s all well and good, with Deadpool staying well in sight with a sequel and his leading role in X-Force, we all want to see the primary team succeeding too. The stage is set for a great X-Men film with the core X-Men (Jean Grey, Cyclops and Storm etc) ready to lead the film while we’re likely to see the conclusion of Xavier and Magneto’s story arc. What’s more, we’re about to see a real adaptation of Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s classic storyline. With that said, there are a few things that need to be changed to ensure that this film can meet the quality of Logan and Deadpool.
- A new vision: I’m happy to hear that Bryan Singer will not be involved with this film. While he was the man who really brought box office success to superhero films I think his time has come. We need someone with a fresh perspective on the team and someone who can change these big X-Men films into something different than the typical superhero-fare, something different from a big baddie and a generic end-of-film fight-sequence (X-Men: Apocalypse). Personally, I’d like to see something with more pop-and-zing akin to Claremont and Byrne’s Uncanny X-Men run, or like the 90’s X-Men show. So far, the movies have been very grounded. For example, I want to see the Shi’ar Empire in the film without the acknowledgment of aliens existing becoming a big deal. Again, like the comics and show, I want the presence of aliens and places like the Astral Plane and The Savage Land being common-place. Go cosmic and grand without slowing the film down by helping the audience get accustomed to it. We’ve seen it happen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Guardians of The Galaxy and The Avengers, along with the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War. Don’t baby us about it.
- Focus – on characters, on a concise story: The best stories of any genre focus on characters, not on different plots. Logan was an essay on characters, relationships and character development and it might be the best X-Men related film ever made. It was smaller, far less epic in scale and only had a few main characters and it succeeded for it. Compare that to X-Men: Last Stand and it becomes ever clearer why Logan succeeded and why the X-Men films were rebooted. With a single storyline we will have more time to enjoy the plot and fall in love with the characters than we would if there were multiple plots thrown at us without enough time to digest them or see them to their conclusion. For example, X-Men: Last Stand juggled a Dark Phoenix story, a mutant ‘cure’, the issue of mutant rights among other plots. We didn’t even have enough time to properly mourn Xavier and Cyclops (then again, nobody was going to miss that Cyclops). If this is to be another reboot of the films, let it be the definitive and final one by giving us characters that we can’t wait to see again.
- Give us real stakes: A big flaw in Disney’s Marvel films are that there aren’t any real stakes. It’s hard to care about these characters when they’re saving the world if we know that their lives aren’t in any real danger. While we might see a death of a major character in Avengers: Infinity War, that’ll be after ten years since the birth of the film universe. While I’m not asking for this film to kill off a character that we were only just introduced to in X:Men Apocalypse, I’d like for some kind of scene that will make the Dark Phoenix a true threat to the X-Men that will increase the gravity and magnitude of this cosmic and personal threat. This leads me to my next point that we’ll get to soon. Perhaps if we didn’t see any deaths, we should see Dark Phoenix do something horrific that Jean Grey will have to live and suffer with as she is no longer with the Phoenix Force.
- Give us a real threat past Magneto: Both Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender have fantastically portrayed one of the most menacing and realest characters in any comicbook film. Magneto has always been a staple of the X-Men films, and for good reason – he might be a villain to the X-Men but he’s a character the audiences care for, and might even sometimes root for. He hurts people but we know that’s a causation of his troubled past in concentration camps and violence from people who hate mutants. He’s seen his wife and daughter killed before his eyes, and our hearts dropped for him. He fights the X-Men on a constant basis but he shows true compassion and respect for their leader. However, it’s time we moved on from him. Unfortunately, when we have, it’s been done but to an unsuccessful standard. While Deadpool and Logan are undoubtedly the best X-Men films their villains were sub-par. Even Days of Future Past’s villain, portrayed by the incredible actor Peter Dinklage, just wasn’t up to snuff. It’s time now for Fox to show off the X-Men’s incredible rogues gallery for what it is. This could be done really well in this new film. The Phoenix Force is a cosmic entity that possesses Jean Grey, Xavier’s star-pupil and Cyclops’ love interest. Together they become Dark Phoenix. This is a villain that can easily tug on the heart-strings of the X-Men as they adapt to fighting an incredibly formidable foe in the body of their team-mate and best friend. In addition, it could cause the team to band-together as they slowly become the team we’re used to in the comics and original trilogy.
In conclusion, I think it’s best if we shifted the tone of these films. Focusing on characters while giving us a more zany film might help to ensure that this film stands tall with Deadpool and Legion and might help audiences to fall in love with the X-Men again. This more pop-sci-fi approach might help us to forgive this timeline confusion. Furthermore, if we get accustomed to this new tone we could accept any ridiculous sci-fi method of having these X-characters meet the ones from other franchises (New Mutants, Deadpool & Cable) from other decades or timelines. Finally, and this is the most important part: this would make audiences accept the colorful and ridiculous costumes we’re so used to in the comics that the studio is so afraid to give us. We want them, we need them.