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7 Reasons DARK PHOENIX Movie is Worse (and Better) Than THE LAST STAND

Dark Phoenix (2019) is a bad movie, but not in the way you'd expect. In some ways, it's better than X-Men: The Last Stand which came out 13 years ago. In some ways (most ways) it's worse.

First a mini-review. Dark Phoenix is a good example of a poorly executed plan. If you haven't seen X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) it was an attempt to adapt the beloved comic book storyline known as the "Dark Phoenix Saga". It started in Uncanny X-Men #101-108 (1976–1977) and written by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, and John Byrne.

That's the story where Jean Grey aka Marvel Girl is in space and bonds with the "Phoenix Force". She becomes an incredibly powerful mutant calling herself "Phoenix". Later, in Uncanny X-Men #129-138 (1980) Claremont and Byrne expand on the story and have her corrupted by the Phoenix Force. She becomes evil and fights the X-Men before regaining control and dying.

The movie has very poor acting performances from most of the cast with the exception of Nicholas Hoult aka Beast. Sophie Turner is the next best actor which says a lot since she's the star. After Jean kills a prominent member of the cast he turns rage on Xavier. For some reason everyone blames him, but it's not really clear why other than implying the X-Men should watch innocent people be killed rather than help them.

That's the biggest problem with Dark Phoenix, no one has clear motivations and the previous movies haven't really given them enough depth for us to care. Without that emotional connection, the movie goes from one scene to another without emotional stakes. That's what makes it mediocre. Even when Jean learns more about her past she ends up looking more wistful than tragic. The final scene is a big massive set piece but is no more exciting than watching a fireworks show. lots of lights and flash but you're not going to cry or get invested in it.

Both movies try to tell the sprawling story in under 90 minutes. Both fail in different ways.

Warning: Spoilers

1. Better: Jean is Pointless, But Less So in Dark Phoenix

Dark Phoenix (2019) - Smith (Jessica Chastain), Jean Grey / Phoenix (Sophie Turner)

Both Dark Phoenix and The Last Stand try and tell the story without focussing on her. Both sideline the character to a "greater" threat. In the first movie, it's a mutant cure. In the latest movie, it's a group of aliens that want to steal the power for themselves.

Both would make an interesting movie by themselves but adding the "Phoenix Saga" just takes away from both storylines.

When the movie does focus on Jean people just talk at her without really explaining why we should care. Is it a bad thing that Jean is manifesting incredible power? If she accidentally kills someone is it her fault? In Last Stand, the main storyline had nothing to do with Jean, but at least the new X-Men movie makes her story more connected to it. So in that way Dark Phonix is better.

2. Worse: Nobody Cares About Cyclops and Jean

A big part of the Phoenix Saga is that Scott finally accepts his love for Jean. The two begin their relationship and share their first kiss after she comes back. He's a big part of the story and Dark Phoenix tries to capture that relationship.

The problem is Sophie Turner and Tye Sheridan have zero chemistry. We don't really understand their relationship and don't really care. When he says things like, "you said you'd always come back to me" we don't believe it. But at least the creators tried to put more of a focus on the Scott\Jean love story from the comics. So DP gets the point here.

3. Worse: Everyone Loves Wolverine and Jean

The star-crossed love story between Jean and Logan played out over the three movies and climaxed in the Last Stand. We knew the characters and had gotten invested in them. So when Wolverine steps up to try and save her we feel it. That final moment where he (SPOILER ALTER) kills her is a gut-punch that continued to play into Wolverine.

But like I said that whole relationship is missing in Dark Phoenix (for obvious reasons).

4. Better: The Red Costume

Back in the 80s, Jean has a very 80s style costume with red spandex and yellow accents. That doesn't really work in the movie so they updated it. Both in the 2005 and 2019 version, she wears a red coat. 

There's not much difference between them but the new version doesn't have the flowing feel than the last one.

5. Worse: Phoenix is Evil

Dark Phoenix (2019) - Jean Grey / Phoenix (Sophie Turner)

In the comics, Jean became evil because the Phoenix Force unlocked her evil nature. It was retconned that the Force took over her personality and turned her evil. In Last Stand, they implied that she had D.I.D. (Split personality) and had an evil side but Jean was still good. In Dark Phoenix, they straight out say this is Jean. Jean can be evil or good depending on what she wants to do.

That takes away from her. Then you have to wonder if she's ever really been a hero.

6. Worse: Professor X is Evil

Image of James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier in Dark Phoenix movie
Dark Phoenix (2019) - Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy)

There's a big difference in Jean's origin between the two movies. In Last Stand, they implied she had an evil side and Xavier (Patrick-Stewart) locks off parts of her brain to keep it in check. In Dark Phoenix Xavier (James McAvoy) takes away some memories to keep her from acting on childhood pain when she grows up. In both movies, they imply that Charles crossed boundaries. The big difference is that in Last Stand he's trying to control Jean's evil. In Dark Phoenix, he's keeping the truth from her. That's evil.

Professor X has done some pretty shady things in the comics though. In fact, he erased Wolverine's memories to keep Logan from murdering him. So it's not out of character for Xavier to mess with people's heads. Charles creates boundaries to keep Jean from blowing her top in Last Stand. But the realization that Prof. X erased someone from her head is straight psycho. So the latest X-Men movie is worse than the old one.

7. Worse: Xavier's Attack

In Last Stand, Jean lifts Prof X out of his wheelchair and dusts him. It's a shocking death and very powerful. In Dark Phoenix, she picks him up and manipulates his legs to make him walk up the stairs.

The scene is supposed to be horrifying but it's kind of funny actually. Assuming it doesn't hurt (which wouldn't make sense since he's paralyzed) watching him skip up the stairs is goofy at worst and pointless at best.

In the end, the latest (and last) Fox X-men movie is garbage. It's even worse that we can make straight comparisons with the style, relationships, and motivations of Fox' last failure. Disney and Marvel may do the "Dark Phoenix" saga when they add them to the MCU. They may not make it better, but they sure can't make it worse.

About Dark Phoenix (2019)

Official synopsis: "The X-Men face their most formidable and powerful foe when one of their own, Jean Grey, starts to spiral out of control. During a rescue mission in outer space, Jean is nearly killed when she's hit by a mysterious cosmic force. Once she returns home, this force not only makes her infinitely more powerful, but far more unstable. The X-Men must now band together to save her soul and battle aliens that want to use Grey's new abilities to rule the galaxy"
Directed by Simon Kinberg
"Dark Phoenix" stars Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, Nicholas Hoult, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Evan Peters, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp, Ato Essandoh, Hannah Emily Anderson, Evan Jonigkeit, Daniel Cudmore, Scott Shepherd,
"Dark Phoenix" was released on June 07, 2019 (United States)
Check back with the Geek Twins for more Dark Phoenix movie news and hype!

Author - Maurice Mitchell

Maurice Mitchell has been a passionate science-fiction fan of movies, television, books, and comics since age five. He and his twin brother Nigel created the site "The Geek Twins" to share that passion. Maurice has written and created infographics for sites like The Geek Twins and About.com. His work has been featured on sites like Business Insider, io9 Slashfilm and more. Ask him a simple question and expect a long answer.

Read more of his posts by clicking on the link
Follow him on Twitter @mauricem1972

What do you think of DARK PHOENIX? Is it better or worse than X-MEN: THE LAST STAND? Let us know in the comments below!

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