This post contains Dark Phoenix spoilers. Proceed with caution.
When Disney officially acquired 21st Century Fox for a cool $71.3 billion in March, it marked the dawning of a new era for comic book fans. All of the biggest Marvel heroes had finally come together under one roof after it had sold its rights to various different studios in the ’90s. While throughout the last decade Disney successfully turned its Marvel Cinematic Universe into the biggest film property in the world, they still didn’t have the rights to two of the comic empire’s biggest characters, including the X-Men and Fantastic 4.
So, when this phase of the MCU comes to an end with Spider-Man: Far From Home this summer, fans expect X-Men or the Fantastic 4 to anchor the franchise going forward.
But, it’s not so easy. First, Disney had the whole problem of X-Men’s massively confusing, two decade old series comprised of 13 massive superhero movies.
I won’t even begin to explain the timeline of this mess of a franchise (you can read about it here instead!), but X-Men: Dark Phoenix is being described as the “culmination” of that series as we know it.
“Even long before the Disney of it all, three years ago, I started writing the script [for Dark Phoenix],” director Simon Kinberg told Comicbook.com. “I approached this movie as the culmination of 20 years of storytelling, of living with the X-Men for all this time, and watching this family come together. And this movie is the movie that challenges that family, and tears them apart in a new way, and so I imagined it as the culmination. And I even pitched it to the studio as this is the culmination of this cycle of X-Men stories, which there will be more X-Men movies in the future, no doubt, but this particular cycle with this cast, it felt like it was time to do kind of what Game of Thrones has done, what Endgame has done, really see them challenged in a new way, and survive and go off into the sunset.”
That seems like a pretty clear answer to the future of the X-Men characters we know at this point.
So then it doesn’t make sense why Dark Phoenix would leave its end open for a sequel. After Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey sacrifices herself to save the planet in the film, the finale concludes showing a phoenix-like fireball in the sky, with a voiceover promising she will be back. There’s no post-credits scene to tease another movie, but the ending doesn’t seem final in any way.
When we last see the confusingly aged Magneto and Professor X, they’re happily playing chess together in France. Which is a happy ending? Or just a calm before whatever comes next.
Given how incredibly bad Dark Phoenix is, hopefully they won’t be making any more movies like this, and Disney will instead move forward with a new vision for X-Men. But if Disney and Marvel do go in a different direction, what does that mean for the beloved Deadpool movies, which have kind of existed as their own thing on the peripheral of the main X-Men storyline.
Like everything with the X-Men movies, it’s completely unclear, because we do know the Dark Phoenix cast is down to appear in the MCU. But, at the very least, no more movies as bad as Dark Phoenix, please.