We’ve done our share of speculation about Jessica Chastain’s character in Dark Phoenix. At the beginning, there were rumblings of the character being a Skrull. But Captain Marvel came in with their film earlier this year and got to the shapeshifting alien race first. So there would’ve been confusion with the properties if both movies coming out this year had them. Plus, a Disney/Fox deal changed all the entertainment rules and put some of the production in question.
So there was further speculation amongst the nerd community that she would be Lilandra. Or a gender-bent version of Mastermind. Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg came out earlier this year to shoot those rumors down.
The only notion we could get was a fleeting reference to D’Bari in an article written on ComicBook. And I don’t think it was an intentional mention of the term.
And No Broccoli For You
Well, mystery solved. She’s a member of the D’Bari race who survived an onslaught by the Phoenix Force. Her name is Vuk, and she was off-planet when her homeworld was destroyed. And only a fleeting reference in the movie makes that point, and if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss it.
Other than what she says, there is nothing in the movie to indicate that she is a member of the D’Bari. No green hair. Not a trace of green on her skin. They are essentially shapeshifters (another green shapeshifting race of aliens, except without any green on them), taking on the form of whatever human they happen to come across.
In the beginning, Chastain plays Margaret, who is enjoying some time with her family before some strange lights descend on the area and start scaring her dog. When she checks out what happened to her pet, a strange force attacks her from the forest. What walks back to the family dining room table is a listless form that looks like Margaret, but lacks any character of the former. And she starts attacking the family, murdering them in cold blood.
Vuk also has a group of alien D’Bari along with her, who inhabit bodies as well. One of them is in attendance to Charles Xavier during one of his parties. Yet this one ends up playing a secondary character to Chastain, following her orders. Several others serve only as background players, and only as fighters when the big action sequences start going.
Departure from the Comics
Comic book lore lists the D’Bari as destroyed by the Dark Phoenix when the entity flew into their solar system’s sun and exploded. All of the D’Bari were wiped out in the resulting explosion except Vuk, who was off-planet when the extinction level event occurred. He goes on to vow revenge for his fallen race, and has conflicts with Jean Grey, Rachel Grey, and other variations of the Phoenix in the comics.
This is not the D’Bari from the comics. In fact, it seems like it was more a quick fix for a version of the race because they couldn’t get the Skrulls. In this film, the D’Bari shape shift. They are menacing and numerous. They are nigh-impervious to harm, taking loads of bullets to all of their extremities without even flinching.
And they apparently have the ability to siphon the powers from other people, as we see Chastain’s character draw out some of the Phoenix Force from Jean. This version of Vuk can also withstand a bevy of bullets and sustain heavy handed attacks from the full force of the X-Men. Psychic attacks, physical force, and elemental assaults have no effect. They have the ability to regenerate as fast as Wolverine with his healing factor.
At this point, I’m asking myself, “Why do they need the Phoenix Force?”
Their purpose is to rebuild their society, and so they choose to do so on earth. They have no intention of leaving the human race alone.
Intentions of the D’Bari
At first, Vuk shows Jean that the Phoenix has the power to create worlds. That the same power that consumed their planet can restore it. However, during the third act for Dark Phoenix, her hidden intentions become clear, as she will kill Jean to take the Phoenix Force from her. And with that, she will destroy Earth to make it a habitation for the surviving D’Bari.
And it’s not as significant as we speculated. At most, we thought she’d be a psychic manifestation of the Phoenix Force. Much like Onslaught was an astral manifestation of the two warring psychic monoliths Professor Xavier and Magneto. It’d make the transition of Sophie Turner to the Phoenix all the more interesting, but with the reveal of her being a less than green broccoli people, it just falls short.
She’s less a devil or angel on her shoulder and more a swindler and con artist. And as I stated in my review, her performance of the character felt flat and uninteresting.
The D’Bari at this point would’ve been more interesting if they were the Brood, as Fox still had the rights to the alien franchise and couldn’t go wrong with taking some horror elements from another one of their films. But this D’Bari twist didn’t seem like it was well thought-out. And the film suffers because of it.
A Future for Chastain to Revisit the Role
It’s implied that Chastain’s character dies at the end of Dark Phoenix. But all implications aren’t confirmations. The end scene has Vuk and Jean Grey flying up into the sky, each using their own Phoenix powers to best each other. An explosion occurs and it seems Jean won the battle, at the cost of her life. A large fire bird appears in the sky like a Disneyland 9:30pm firework display, and the X-Men are sad for a minute as they digest what just happened.
End scene, the Xavier School is renamed Jean Grey’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Beast is headmaster and the X-Men are teachers at the mutant academy. Xavier himself is in another country, outside a little café. And in walks Magnus, and they engage in a game of chess. Lehnsherr offers Xavier a place to stay, just as Xavier offered one to him so long ago. Whether he is speaking about Genosha or Avalon, it’s hard to tell.
But across the sky, we see a flame bird streak across the horizon, and the film ends. So if Jean’s death at the end of the movie is in question, it’s not too unreasonable to question Vuk’s death as well.
What do you think? Is this the last we’ve seen of the D’Bari? Or are we bound to see Chastain reprise the role in another film, but this time for the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Sound off in the comments below or let’s talk about it on social media!