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Dark Phoenix: Plot Holes, Awkward Moments, and Cool Parts.

Dark Phoenix: Plot Holes, Awkward Moments, and Cool Parts.

6/12/2019


2019 is the year of ending Marvel franchises. Endgame is rollicking in box office fame on cosmic levels. Everything that movie touches is gold. They can even get away with fat Thor. Then there is the X-Men franchise: the classic comic book retelling of how Professor Charles revolutionized the mutant culture, creating the X-Men.  The first two films (First Class and Days of Future Past) were powerful statements that Fox knew how to handle the source material. Apocalypse was at least a good slug fest with some of my favorites from my childhood. Then there is Dark Phoenix.

*Caution Spoilers*

The Cool Parts: Going to space like a proper hero team: It took four films and 30 years to actually create the X-Men as a crime fighting, emergency response team. They run toward the problems and solve them with cool Quicksilver moments and Nightcrawler poofing. No longer are they saying, "Woe is me, I'm a mutant!" Now they are kicking butt and saving astronauts. 

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Dark Phoenix is a great horror element: Jean Grey is a monster.  She is actually scary in this one. The good kind of scary. This opens the door for more horror themed super hero films. The way she forces Charles Xavier to walk to her is spine tingling. 

The Alien Menace: It took seven movies, but the X-Men are being recognized as cosmic crime fighters. They have more powers than the Avengers and more resources and it has been wasted on Congress lobbyists and Egyptian war lords. They deserve an alien threat that could use a good beating. The alien threat in this movie, Vuk, is pretty weak on the plot scale, but it is a step in the right direction.

The Train Fight: The Brotherhood and the X-Men team up for a fight of epic proportions. So much hole blasting, metal shard manipulating, Superman punching, and telekinesis destruction in this one train. My mutant super power will be enjoying that scene for eternity.



The Not-So-Good-Stuff

How do you take a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, and Michael Fassbender and ruin it. Take notes because this is the perfect recipe for killing a franchise.

Cyclops: No matter what reboot, universe, or timeline Cyclops main goal is to be a third wheel. If I told you he was the leader of the X-Men would you believe me?

No One Ages: Mutie or not, thirty years is like three years in this series. Jean Grey is twenty six years old if you count her origin story. She shouldn't be hitting on high school kids and going to their parties. Professor X is completely free of aging in his thirty years. The movie thinks that the best way to show he has aged is to make him balder. How in the world is Beast (Hank McCoy) going to turn into Kelsey Grammer in 15 years?

Quicksilver gets Fridged: He is in two action scenes and he is done. There has to be a contract for Evan Peters where he can only be in two action scenes in each movie and then he has to leave the set. That's why American Horror Story has no action scenes.

Quicksilver and Mystique as main members of the X-Men: This is a comic book/cartoon gripe. When we talk about the true X-Men team of the 90's Quicksilver and Mystique should not be running things. They should be bad guys. 

The Problem of Dark Phoenix: The moment I saw the trailer of Dark Phoenix entering into the body of Jean Grey from space, I dreaded the fact that they were retconning her origin. Let's go back to 2016 when Jean Grey was fighting Apocalypse. Professor X had told Jean to unleash her full psychic potential. She goes full psychic on Ivan Ooze...I mean Apocalypse and we see the glimpse of Phoenix rise from her. That was 1983. Now cut to 1992. The story has changed completely. Jean Grey is a troubled youth that has a dark past. Xavier creates a scaffolding in her brain so that she doesn't unleash it into bitterness and hate (AKA destroying people). She becomes the Phoenix when she visits space in 1992. They threw out the previous plot point that the Phoenix was living in her since 1983 and replaced it with the Phoenix entering in her from space. That made me angry. Pick one!

But that is not the part that made the movie weak. Jean Grey as a threat to the X-Men did not sell it to me. She was not a true monster in this film. She had a few tantrums where she wiped the floor with the heroes, but nothing showed that she could be a world ending problem. She doesn't even evolve into the full megalomaniac fire bird costume. She is street clothes Jean Grey. In fact, the villains in this movie all wear comfortable clothing, but the heroes need to wear stretchy suits. The Phoenix is supposed to be a city destroying mega conflict, but in this movie it is just a vehicle to amplify Jean Grey's bitterness. She is still a titan of power, but not in a way that would show proper respect to the comic books. 

Mystique/Raven and the Hypocrisy of Her Message: The X-Men fight to be normalized in modern society. The running message in the series is that if you look different than humans you should be ashamed. Mystique's blue and scaly skin had alienated her from a normal life. She had been living in shame for the past three movies. The fourth movie was supposed to represent her acceptance of self. She is a proud mutant whom others look up to. The studio changed her make up and costume from the radical blue scaly skin to the soft blue and smooth skin. What message does that send? Well, we actually believe that old Mystique was too ugly for our new movie and we need her to look pretty. The studio is actually working against their message. Ugly mutants cannot fit in and must change to look pretty. I love Jennifer Lawrence as an actress. I think her major purpose in these films was to be a counter point to Charles' positivism. For me it comes off as constant complaining. Every time Professor X tries to establish a team or an idea, she spends her scene time complaining about it.  What if Black Widow hated the idea of Avengers and spent every Avenger movie complaining to Cap? When Mystique dies from Jean's hands she is showing a side of her character that I wanted to see more; the compassionate voice of the mutants.

The other problem with Dark Phoenix: The alien menace believes that Jean is the only person powerful enough to imbue the cosmic force which destroys whole planets. She decides to team up with her and use her to destroy humans and remake her planet. When Jean Grey admits that she doesn't want the Dark Phoenix inside her, Vuk throws away that minor plot point about Jean being the only one who can survive it and decides that she can absorb it. Then when Vuk actually tries to absorb it, she suddenly remembers that she shouldn't absorb it because that kills people. Vuk's plan is all over the map. She uses exposition to set up rules for the Dark Phoenix, but doesn't follow through on any of them. Furthermore, her gang of alien brethren (Discount Skrulls) have no motivation or purpose. I get it, the Dark Phoenix destroyed their planet and they assigned themselves to being glorified tornado chasers, following it wherever it goes. But what was there plan? Wait for a girl to absorb it? If they could absorb the power this whole time, why wait for Jean? It makes no sense.

Finally, this movie ends abruptly like an old WCW match. You have Hogan and Sting fighting each other and suddenly Brian Knobbs hits one of them over the head and DQ's the match. Brian Knobbs represents the pressure to end the series as fast as possible and let Disney take over. Disney will probably reboot the reboot and we will see some young faces with British dialects and social justice choices abound. It will be great. Disney can do no wrong. All hail female Cyclops and African American Professor X. 

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