Okay, as a warning preface to all of this, everything I’m writing today is about a movie that has not come out yet and (as far as I know) have not even begun production. So, I could be 100% wrong on all of this, but I could be 100% right. That second possibility is what worries me, which is why I paused research on a piece about feminism in Star Wars to write this now.
For those of you who just can’t bring yourselves to click away, I’ll clue you in. There are now whispers of Fox teasing that they will be taking another swing at adapting the Dark Phoenix Saga following this year’s X-Men: Apocalypse. There is some confusion over whether it will be the next film or a few installments down the road, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the next one.
I’m glad you asked.
REASON 1: THE AVENGERS
In 2012, Marvel Studios released the biggest and most successful superhero film in the history of mankind, and there was much rejoicing. It had action, it had drama, it had a Hulk everyone loved, and no one knew how it could get any bigger until it did. Now, they have Captain America: Civil War (which we all know is basically Avengers 2.5) coming out this year and a third, two-part Avengers event visible on the horizon. Say what you will about Marvel Studios. They’re on fire.
Update 01/18/2018: They’re still on fire.
REASON 2: THE JUSTICE LEAGUE
DC, in the meantime, has been working with their parent company, Time Warner, to try to get back in the game. 2009’s Man of Steel was a reasonable hit, but look at what they have to compete with in their second movie alone. It’s no wonder they packed their movie with more characters than The Amazing Spider-Man 2. There are going to be no less than 67 heroes (I’ll repeat that, 67 HEROES) in Avengers: Infinity War. So, now, Justice League is getting a 2018 release, but really, the first Justice League movie just came out.
Update 01/18/2018: Justice League was an underwhelming, poorly conceived, rushed mess that proves my point better than I ever could have.
These are two companies that have entire universes at their disposal. What does 20th Century Fox have? I’ll tell you exactly what they have: Deadpool, The Fantastic Four, and The X-Men.
Now, Deadpool was a huge hit, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not the kind of lightning that’s guaranteed to strike twice. Meanwhile, the Fantastic Four, well, there’s pretty good evidence that franchise is cursed. That leaves us with everybody’s favorite mutant team to make the big bucks. Every year. Forever.
So, it make sense for Fox to want to put its best feet forward with such a prominent story arc as the Dark Phoenix Saga. I mean, that’s how they’ve been doing it so far. Pick a storyline the most people remember and press play. Watch the money roll in. Done.
There are a few problems with that, though.
PROBLEM 1: IT SHORTCHANGES THE EVENT
DC is probably going to be able to attest to this when Justice League: Part 1 comes out, but seeing all of your favorite heroes in the same movie isn’t as exciting the second time around. Actually, Marvel can already attest to this.
The Dark Phoenix Saga is a high stakes arc, and people are going to be disappointed if there isn’t a mortality rate to match that, especially since killing superheroes for good has started to become popular again. Isn’t that right, Wolverine?
Now, when I say high stakes, I mean high stakes. In the original comics, Jean Grey goes 100% power-mad bonkers. She murders billions of people (and that’s low-balling it). She becomes the single most dangerous active weapon in the universe, and the scariest thing is that she’s the one pulling the trigger. We’re talking decimation and loss of life so great that Marvel’s then editor-in-chief Jim Shooter declared that she was not to be revived ever unless someone could come up with a way to explain that she was not responsible for the atrocities committed.
I mean, where do you go from there? I supposed you could have a post-apocalyptic future in which one of them has to go back to change the past in order to save everyone oh wait. Well, what if the original mutant was to re-emerge and turn out to be a really bad dude. He could be called Apocalypse and oh wait again.
Uh, I guess you could do House of M, or you could do that one storyline where half of the kids at Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters start a Mutant Lives Matter riot.
Or you could do Avengers vs. X-Men. No, I’m kidding, we all know you’ll never do that.
PROBLEM 2: IT SHORTCHANGES THE CHARACTERS
Yes, news is that Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War are going to have dire consequences and will likely be the exit point for some major players in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. On the DC side of things, oh wait, spoilers.
As I said, the Dark Phoenix Saga is a HIGH STAKES ARC, and it will more than likely be the exit of a few favorite. Also, it will (if they do it properly) most definitely be the temporary exist of Jean Grey.
Why doesn’t this work? Marvel’s characters have been with us since 2012. We’ve had 11 movies and 2 television shows with some combination of these characters to get to know what these people mean to each other and to us. Fox should know this. They’ve done it right once before.
One of the few things that Fox did right all the way with the original X-Men trilogy was Jean Grey’s arc. In the first movie, they introduced her as a character and played around with the love triangle featuring Cyclops and Wolverine that everyone knows so well. We also got a brief indicator that something bad might be on the horizon. In the second movie, the foreshadowing became stronger, but she still proved a vital member of the team and even saved everyone before… Oh, hang on, spoilers.
No, that movie came out 13 years ago. Forget the spoilers. Jean Grey got swallowed up by a lake. We all thought it was over, but it wasn’t. That brings us to the movie Fox wants us to forget ever happened. No, not that one. Not that one either. Wow, I really did forget about that one.
X-Men: The Last Stand may have done a disservice to a lot of characters, but Jean Grey was not one of them. She got her explosive rebirth and, let me tell you.
She killed Cyclops. She killed Professor X. She killed dozens of random mutants and soldiers. The whole while, she let loose her rage and tormented Wolverine. Then, at the end of this arc, that had been building for three movies, we lost Jean Grey.
More importantly, we saw Wolverine lose Jean Grey, and it was tragic.
I don’t care what anyone says, that scene was the best scene in any X-Men movie to date. Hugh Jackman’s screams are still ringing in my ears, and It’s 2016.
We’re just now meeting this new Jean Grey, and they already want to us to say goodbye.
Or they don’t, and I’m wrong.
God, I hope I’m wrong.