It’s not X3, but Simon Kinberg and Fox aren’t doing themselves any favors with this trailer…
The Dark Phoenix trailer premiered early Thursday morning. I waited up a bit hoping to get a look at it before I went to bed, but that didn’t work out too well. By the time I woke the next morning the internet was already ripe with reaction videos and breakdowns. I was excited. I’m an X-Men fan, and I don’t mean one of those people who just watch the movies and think they know everything about Marvel’s merry band of mutants. I’ve been reading and collecting since the early 90s (that doesn’t sound like a long time but that’s nearly 30 years now).
When the trailer finished, what I was left with wasn’t excitement or intrigue. It was utter confusion, with a dash of annoyance. I consider myself an optimist. I’ll give anything a shot. For instance, even with all its missteps- I didn’t hate X-Men: Apocalypse. I mean, I didn’t love it either, but it’s not like it was unwatchable. You know what X-Men movie I did hate? X-Men: The Last Stand (also known simply as X3). And you know what I started thinking about thirty seconds into this trailer? X-Men: The Last Stand.
Man, believe me, I get it. This movie isn’t a remake, but for goodness sake, why did producer/writer/ director Simon Kinberg think it’d be a good idea to borrow so much from X3? ‘Oh no, Jean’s flipping out again, y’all! Care and be alarmed!’ I know what you’re going to say ‘well Phil, it’s called Dark Phoenix, what did you think it was going to be about?’ I’ll tell you what, the effing Dark Phoenix. All this trailer told me is that this movie is centered around more of Jean’s mental trauma. We’ve been seeing that and her tired flames since the end of X2!
Let’s get something straight. The only reason I was down for another shot at a Phoenix-themed X-Men movie so soon after X3 was because it was being advertised as being about the Dark Phoenix. Unlike X3, producers were actually using the term ‘Phoenix,’ not just borrowing the concept. That’s supposed to mean this movie will include all of, or at least two of the following: space pirates, ancient alien intergalactic empires, and a cosmic entity in the form of a firebird. This wasn’t supposed to be Jean flipping out part 4. I’m not the only one thinking this either. There’s a reason why so many people expected Jessica Chastain to be playing Lillandra (an Empress or Princess of the Shi’Ar Empire). It was a hope. Hope that this movie would be a sprawling space-opera starring the X-Men.
I know, ‘Phil, you don’t know what the movie could be about! It could still be all that!’ That’s all fine and dandy but 5 months out, why am I still having to guess? The movie entitled Dark Phoenix should be fairly self-explanatory. Oddly enough, it isn’t. Not at all. The only evidence we’ve been offered are two scenes lasting less than 3 seconds combined. The first with the X-Men in low orbit, and another of Jean being surrounded by flames. These are the only two things out of the entire trailer that is giving me hope that this isn’t some ill-inspired retread of the last three times we saw this. I’m sorry, but if you don’t want me to relate this to X3, then you’ll have to do better than that, Fox.
‘Phil, be fair. Go into this with an open mind! You have to give it a chance!’ The heck I do. I gave them a chance the moment I pressed ‘play.’ From that moment on, the ball was in their court. We are the customers, the consumers. Our job isn’t to give them multiple opportunities to woo us. It’s their duty to win us over. To put their best foot forward, every time.
First impressions are important. In a vacuum, this was a fine trailer. The color palette was perfect, acting looked great, special effects were awesome. But we don’t live in vacuums, no matter how much I wanted this movie to be in space! We’re almost 20 years into this film franchise. I demand more of it. I’m not passing judgment on the movie. I haven’t seen it yet. I’m passing judgment on this trailer based on what’s been presented to me, combined with my more than ample knowledge of both the source material and past attempts made by the same studio.
People have seen this iteration of Jean and her relationship with the “Phoenix” so much, they are starting to look at it as a power level. The Phoenix and Dark Phoenix are the same entity. It’s a primordial cosmic force. The universal avatar of rebirth and evolution. It’s not something Jean does when a dam needs to be plugged (X2), she has a nervous breakdown (X3), or if an ancient baddie needs a slap down (Apocalypse).
When the movie was announced under the name Dark Phoenix, I wasn’t expecting Kinberg to write the Citizen Cane of X-Men movies. Unlike what was offered in X3, I was actually expecting him to take cues from both the books and X-Men: The Animated Series, you know, the only two mediums that did the story justice? I can’t talk for anybody else, but for me, if I don’t see something that tickles my fancy, I won’t be showing up for X-Men: The Last Stand 2, The Remix. I know, small threat. But if enough people respond in the same spirit as I have, Fox will be fighting an uphill battle all the way up to opening day. But hey, it’s not like this is something has ever happened before. Nothing to fear from a disenfranchised, unengaged fanbase. Right? The heck do I know? I for one will be hoping that this is just a misleading trailer.
Dark Phoenix is out in theaters on February 14, 2019.