In order for a phoenix to be reborn, it first has to die. And that’s what Dark Phoenix is essentially about: the death of the X-Men franchise at Fox, so it may be gloriously reborn at Marvel Studios. But, wow, do we have some questions! Here’s a spoiler-filled look at the biggest unanswered questions in Dark Phoenix. At the beginning of Dark Phoenix, the X-Men go on a mission to save some astronauts menaced by a weird space cloud.
This is a totally different space cloud that turns out to be the Phoenix Force. And then bad things happen for two hours. But that raises a big question: didn’t Jean already have the Phoenix Force? Like, just in the last movie? X-Men: Apocalypse was set in 1983, a full nine years before the events of Dark Phoenix. So if she just got the Phoenix Force now, what the heck was that all about? At the climax of the film, the U.S. government decides to crack down on mutants, rounding up all the X-Men in a campaign to imprison mutants in concentration camps. The X-Men break free in a massive battle.
But then what? Yes, somehow after violently destroying a government train and leveling the countryside, at the cost of numerous U.S. military lives, the X-Men are then shown being totally fine back at school. So what happened? And what about all the other mutants in America, like the refugees on Magneto’s island? Are they all still huddling in a mutant camp somewhere under armed guard? Out of sight, out of mind, apparently. Remember X-Men: Days of Future Past? In that film, the future turned to hot poop, so the cast from the original X-Men trilogy sent Hugh Jackman into the prequel trilogy to create a new timeline where the future was nice. It sort of worked. He saved his Jean Grey… but apparently doomed this other version, because now the prequels aren’t prequels anymore, they’re a totally different timeline. It’s a timeline where time itself doesn’t seem to work anymore. Remember that X-Men: First Class was set way back in 1963.
That means that characters like Magneto, Xavier, and Mystique should all be in their 50s or early 60s by the time Dark Phoenix comes around in 1992. And yet, they don’t seem to have aged a day in 30 years. Even characters like Storm and Cyclops who first appeared in Apocalypse, are still the exact same age nine years later. Between the original X-Men films, these not-actually-prequels, whatever Days of Future Past was, and Logan, there seem to be four distinct X-Men timelines. So congrats! The movies are finally as confusing as the comics. A lot has been written about the end of Dark Phoenix, which reportedly was totally changed at the last minute because the original ending was way too similar to Captain Marvel. And the haste shows, because the big battle on the train leaves a lot of questions, the main one being: What happened to all the aliens Jean didn’t kill? These aliens seemed to be nearly invulnerable, shrugging off bullets and mutant attacks with ease.
But, like, two dozen of them are simply knocked off the train by optic blasts from Cyclops, or a strong wind from Storm. Given how tough they are, it seems likely that most of those aliens survived a simple fall. So what happened with them? Are they still on Earth? Did they get back on their missing spaceship and fly away? And is anyone ever going to comment on the fact that there are ALIENS on Earth? Guess we’ll never know! Speaking of Days of Future Past, remember this? And what about this bit from Apocalypse? Yes, the fact that Quicksilver is secretly Magneto’s son is a major subplot. In fact, it’s the only character development for Quicksilver in all three films combined. So we have to ask: Did they ever have that dang talk? Unfortunately, we don’t know, because Quicksilver disappears from Dark Phoenix less than halfway through it. Magneto, meanwhile, heads off to Europe to check out the amateur chess scene.
And since this is likely the last time we’ll see these versions of the characters, it seems we’ll never find out whether they ever got closure. One thing is certain, though: the viewers definitely didn’t! After the final credits roll on Dark Phoenix, the first question many X-Men fans have is: Why was this movie made? We’re not being snarky. We’re just wondering why, with over 55 years of great X-Men stories to choose from, Fox decided to tell the Dark Phoenix story twice in seven films. Especially considering 2006’s The Last Stand is considered the worst X-Men film of them all. Well… it was until now, anyway! The fact is that there are so many superhero films in theaters these days that fans want and need to see something new. Why they didn’t get something new here is a question we may never get an answer to.
Finally, the biggest unanswered question of them all is simply: now what? Technically, there’s still one more X-Men film coming from Fox the horror-tinged spinoff New Mutants, which has been delayed and pushed back on the schedule repeatedly, and which is currently set to debut on April 3, 2020. After that, though, it’s just a matter of time before Marvel Studios does something with the X-Men. Thanks to their deal with Fox, Marvel Studios films couldn’t even mention the whole concept of mutants, so we’re not sure how they’ll bring the X-Men into the mix. And it’s also likely that Marvel will want to completely recast the characters, meaning fans might be meeting their third Jean Grey and their third Storm in as many decades. It’s a big ask for the audience, though Marvel proved with Tom Holland and Spider-Man that they can make it work. The ashes are here. We’re just waiting to see how the resurrection goes.