Fox has taken a bit of pride in allowing its Marvel properties to push the envelope in terms of language and violence. Deadpool, for example, became one of the most successful R-rated films of all-time, serving as the first R-rated Marvel Comics property on the big screen in the X-Men movie universe. It was loaded with crude jokes, intense violence, and foul language. Then Logan came along, offering up a grittier, more raw feeling than any of the Fox-Marvel films before it, also becoming a success. Now, with Dark Phoenix, writer and director Simon Kinberg took a PG-13 approach but did manage to squeeze in some gritty violence and push-the-limits language.
In culminating the X-Men movie universe, Kinberg wanted Dark Phoenix to leave moviegoers feeling as though they had watched something a bit different. In some sequences (which will be discussed in further spoiler-free detail when the review embargo for Dark Phoenix lifts in early June), particular X-Men characters unleash their more raw action-packed sides like fans haven't seen before on the big screen.
"You know, because I've worked on these movies for a long time, and we've been successful with the X-Men movies, and really the X-Men movies have become my family in the last 10, 15 years," Kinberg explained to ComicBook.com (as seen in the interview on video above). "I've spent more time on X-Men sets than I have at home. The studio has come to trust me in making these films, and when it came time and I said, 'Listen, I really want to direct this movie,' and I had the real support of the cast to direct the movie, my vision for the film was a more intense, a more raw X-Men film than we'd done before. And so I was very clear with the studio from the beginning. I said, 'Listen, this is going to push the envelope of the PG-13 X-Men movies that we've seen before. It's going to be much more like the Dark Knight movies, or like Logan than it is going to be like the previous X-Men films.' And I felt like it was time for a change after 20 years of making these movies. This particular story, I think, requires an intensity to tell properly."
That said, the team did not set out with a rating in mind. As producer Hutch Parker explained to ComicBook.com, the filmmakers focused on the narrative before the MPAA rating, landing on PG-13 with the final endeavor. This rating did allow the film to open on a visceral car crash sequence which Kinberg wanted to use as a means to immediately hook the audience into something different.
"Well the opening of this movie, I wanted to do a few things," Kinberg said. "One, I wanted to really declare that it's Jean's story. I didn't want to start with Professor X. I didn't want to start with the X-Men. I really wanted to say this is Jean's story that you're going to be watching with the span of the movie. You're going to watch her evolution, you're going to watch her de-evolution, and then ultimately, sort of even larger evolution into something beyond the X-Men, beyond being a mutant. So I wanted to start squarely with Jean.
"And then I wanted to start with something really intense, because for me, my vision for this film was to do the rawest, most intense X-Men movie we've ever done, and so I just wanted the audience to know from the very beginning this is not your maybe broader, campier X-Men movie. This is the real deal. We're going to be dealing with really intense emotions, really intense action, really intense drama, and that all happens in the first two minutes of the movie."
X-Men: Dark Phoenix hits theaters on June 7.