After dropping important clues to Jean Grey's ultimate fate in X-Men (2000) and X2: X-Men United (2003) -- with latter showing her tapping into the Phoenix Force, seemingly sacrificing her life at Akali Lake to save her team -- fans were expecting X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) to finally tackle Chris Claremont’s memorable storyline “The Dark Phoenix Saga.” And it kind of did, but fans weren't happy with how it played out on screen, feeling as though it didn't live up the original -- which it didn't.
Today, 20th Century Fox announced that the next film in the series is X-Men: Dark Phoenix and will open on Nov. 2, 2018. As you can tell by its title, Fox is taking another crack at “The Dark Phoenix Saga.” However, this time around it will be Sophie Turner, not Famke Janssen, that will show how the incalculably powerful telekinetic and telepathic hero transforms into a nearly-unstoppable villain.
So, what can X-Men: Dark Phoenix learn from the mistakes of X-Men: The Last Stand? Check out our slideshow to learn more!
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) - In the X-Men’s epic, final battle, the well-known mutant heroes and villains meet a cadre of all-new warriors - including Angel (Ben Foster), Beast (Kelsey Grammer), Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones) and Colossus (Daniel Cudmore) - in a thrilling, explosive adventure! After a controversial “cure” is discovered, mutants can choose to retain their superhuman abilities or give up their unique gifts and become “normal.” When the peaceful mutant leader Charles Xavier clashes with his militant counterpart, Magneto, the battle lines are drawn for the war to end all wars.
The cast also features Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Ellen Page, and Anna Paquin.
The film was directed by Brett Ratner and written by Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn. On a production budget of $210 million, X-Men: The Last Stand went on to earn $459.4 million at the global box office.
Make Sure Dark Phoenix Is The Primary Story
Simon Kinberg, who co-wrote X-Men: The Last Stand with Zak Penn, said several years ago his biggest regret with the 2006 film is that The Dark Phoenix story wasn't the primary story.
Instead, X-Men: The Last Stand focused more of its attention on the cure storyline. Worthington Labs develops an inoculation to suppress the X-gene that gives mutants their abilities. They and the non-mutant world calls it a "cure." But Magneto and the army of mutants that he has amassed don't think they need to be cured of anything; they are merely the next step in human evolution, so non-mutants had better accept them for who and what they are or feel the full weight of their power.
Magneto views the resurrected Jean Grey as the ultimate weapon, but even he can't control the power within her. She turns on him and it is left up to Wolverine to put a stop to her, being forced to kill the woman he loves.
Change The Dark Phoenix Backstory
X-Men: The Last Stand begins with digitally de-aged Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) visiting a young Jean Grey and inviting her to come to his school. Realizing that the power that she possesses is dangerous to her and the entire world, we learn that Charles went inside her head and created mental blocks that will restrain her abilities. It was a temporary fix, but it also created a developed a dual personality for Jean. So, when her true abilities are unleashed at the end of X2, the Phoenix side emerges. And once that genie is out of the bottle, it can't be put back.
In the comics, the Phoenix Force -- a powerful cosmic entity that represents life that has not yet been born -- bonds with Jean when she telepathically reaches out to it during a near-death experience while piloting a shuttle bombarded by cosmic radiation and re-entering Earth's atmosphere. When the shuttle crashes to Earth, Jean emerges as the Phoenix.
But more importantly, the storyline was used to expand Marvel's cosmic universe -- introducing readers to the Shi'ar Empire and the M'Kraan Crystal.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe used Guardians of the Galaxy to open the door to its cosmic universe, but Fox's X-Men film series hasn't really dipped its toes in that water. It could with X-Men: Dark Phoenix, adding a cosmic explanation for Jean's power.
Don't Kill Cyclops
The film series has never given Cyclops the respect that he deserves. And the greatest injustice was that he was killed off at the beginning of X-Men: The Last Stand and for no apparent reason. Of course, that limited screen time probably has more to do with James Marsden working on The Last Stand and Superman Returns at the same time. Still, there could've been more to his death than what we saw.
When the film opens, Cyclops is no longer the leader of the X-Men. Jean's death at Alkali Lake left him drowning in bitterness and grief. He heads to her finally resting spot to mourn her some more and instantly hears Jean, inside his head, calling to him. He freaks out, whips off his protective sunglasses, and blasts the water. Then, Jean emerges from the water. How? As she says, "I don't know." They have a romantic moment that involves her de-powering him they can look into each other's eyes; they kiss, and then it appears as though she feeds on his life energy, killing him.
The Cyclops and Jean relationship is too important to get treated like a c-level subplot. X-Men: Dark Phoenix would be wise not to make that same mistake.
Death of The Phoenix
Wolverine has no choice but to kill Jean/The Phoenix in X-Men: The Last Stand. Leading up to the heartbreaking scene, The Phoenix goes into full beserker mode, disintegrating anyone (humans and mutants) and everything within range of her power. He puts his speedy healing factor to the test as he slowly approaches her and she disintegrates sections of his skin, exposing the adamantium skeleton underneath. He finally gets through to Jean when he tells her that he would put his life at risk for her. In that moment of clarity, she asks him to save her, so he does ... by sticking her with claws.
While I enjoy the scene, it certainly can't be duplicated in X-Men: Dark Phoenix. So, where could they go with it? In the comics, Jean also has a moment of clarity and, during it, she sacrificed her life. How? She used a Kree weapon to that atomized her, erasing her form existence.