Why The Dark Phoenix Saga Is The Perfect Way to End the X-Men Movies

The X-Men movie series has had its ups and downs since beginning in 2000, and it looks like we're heading back into the latter territory. While X-Men: Apocalypse wasn't the worst superhero movie released in 2016, it definitely didn't measure up to its immediate two predecessors critically. It's becoming abundantly clear this superhero franchise is starting to show its age, and Fox apparently agrees. It was reported last week that the studio is considering "pressing the reset button," though it sounds like their approach would be more of a semi-reboot.

We talked last week about why it's a good idea for Fox to fully reboot the X-Men, i.e. start from scratch, but before that happens, the main series should conclude with one last hurrah. Fortunately for the studio, they have just the story for the job. It's been reported several times over the last year that the next main X-Men series will tackle the Dark Phoenix Saga, which was previously adapted for 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand. Here are the main reasons why this comic book storyline should end the current batch of main X-Men movies before a reboot is launched.


It Brings The Series Around Nearly Full Circle

Starting with X-Men: First Class and its 1960s setting, every main X-Men installment has jumped forward approximately a decade. More than half of X-Men: Days of Future Past balanced being set in 1973 with the apocalyptic future 50 years later, and X-Men: Apocalypse hopped to 1983. According to Bryan Singer, the next X-Men movie will continue this trend by taking place in the 1990s, which means the series will be the closest yet to coming nearly full circle with when the first X-Men movie happened, i.e. circa 2000.

Even though X-Men: Apocalypse marked the end of the "First Class" trilogy, this X-Men movie can serve as an epilogue of sorts and end this series close to the same time period it began. There would be something poetic leaving these characters close to how they were when we first met them. Granted, any story could technically work with this approach, but by using the Dark Phoenix saga, the studio receives the added bonus of ending the series with one of the biggest bangs possible...if executed properly, of course.

X-Men: The Last Stand

It Redeems The Storyline After The Last Stand

2006's X-Men: The Last Stand is notorious for being one of the worst-received X-Men movies among fans. One of the reasons for this is because of how the Dark Phoenix adaptation was handled. It was bad enough that Jean Grey's villainous self was forced to share screen time with the mutant cure plot, but on top of that, Jean's Dark Phoenix powers were attributed to being a subconscious separate personality rather than anything extraterrestrial. Now that the "First Class" trilogy is working with a relatively fresh timeline, as well as X-Men: Apocalypse having reintroduced the Phoenix Force, this is the perfect time to re-tackle the storyline and give it its proper due.

Granted, the new movie can't be 100% faithful to the original tale. For instance, the Phoenix Force will have to still be attributed to something inside of Jean rather than an entirely different entity. But hey, at least this version of the story can't be any worse than what The Last Stand gave us, right? At least this time the door is open to connect the Dark Phoenix to her cosmic roots, which brings us to the next section...


It Can Take The Heroes To Outer Space

The X-Men movies have leaned on many sci-fi tropes over the years, but they still have yet to take the action off Earth and into outer space. Fortunately, such a trip may finally be on the table, as Bryan Singer expressed interest earlier this year in having a "big alien, interstellar tenant" within this cinematic universe. Although Apocalypse's solar-powered technology seemed like it could have been alien technology, that was never confirmed in X-Men: Apocalypse. So before this X-Men movie series concludes, a Dark Phoenix re-telling can take the team of mutant protagonists into outer space.

Better yet, put them on another planet! If Jean destroys a nearby star as the Dark Phoenix like she did in the original storyline, that means she'll be put on trial by a nearby alien society (probably the Shi'ar empire) for killing the inhabitants of the planet near that star. Before the current X-Men franchise comes to an end, these characters need to interact with life from elsewhere in the galaxy, and the Dark Phoenix presents a natural way to do so.


It Gives The Post-Apocalypse Team A Better Chance To Shine

Even though X-Men: Apocalypse had a group of mutant superheroes to fight back against Apocalypse's Four Horsemen, the younger heroes weren't fully trained using their powers. Fourtunately, by the end of the movie, Professor X realized that Earth needed a team to protect both mutants and humans. So with Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, Nightcrawler and Quicksilver, he formed the first official X-Men team in this new timeline...well, second if you count the team from First Class. Before this series is over, it would be great to see the mutants as full-fledged superheroes.

Assuming we reunite with these characters in the 1990s, they'll have had a decade (give or take) to master their abilities. They held up well in X-Men: Apocalypse, but wouldn't it be great to see Tye Sheridan's Cylcops have full control over his optic blasts? To see Quicksilver use his speed in more creative ways? And since the story would revolve around Dark Phoenix, we would see Jean Grey at her most powerful, which would unfortunately let her darker side loose and force her teammates to battle her.


It Leaves More Room For Spinoffs

If it were up to us, the new Dark Phoenix adaptation would be the final X-Men-related movie before an new reboot series began. However, that's unlikely to happen given the plans in motion for spinoff movies like Deadpool 2 and New Mutants. So as a consolation prize, we'll take Dark Phoenix ending the main X-Men series with a bang so Fox can dedicate attention to making the spinoffs exceptional.

Deadpool was a massive hit earlier this year, and along with Deadpool 2 currently being worked on, there are already plans for Deadpool 3 to reportedly include X-Force. New Mutants seems to be poising itself as the new series starring a group of teenage superheroes. Gambit's had a run of bad luck for many years, but without a main X-Men series to work on, Fox can tackle it with renewed vigor so the Ragin' Cajun can finally lead his own adventure. The primary X-Men movies have had over a decade and a half to entertain audiences, and now the spinoffs can continue its legacy with fresher material.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.