When 2003's X2: X-Men United ended, hardcore X-Men fans were excited at the prospect of seeing Jean Grey revived from the dead and becoming the Dark Phoenix, a storyline that previously played out in the comics and '90s animated series. Three years later, the end result was, to be put delicately, not great, as X-Men: The Last Stand is still considered to be one of the worst X-Men movies. Some of that had to due with the creative liberties they took with adapting The Dark Phoenix Saga for the big screen. Still, maybe some of the disappointment could have been eased had a badass trailer scene showing Dark Phoenix getting ready to unleash destruction in Washington D.C. been included.
Although screenwriter David Hayter wasn't brought back for X-Men: The Last Stand after penning the first two movies (though he did stop by the set at least once), he had a few ideas on how to promote the third movie, namely by having the corrupted Jean Grey preparing to battle humanity in the U.S. capital city. Hayer explained to THR:
The image that I wanted for X-Men 3 trailer was essentially, you see Xavier and Logan facing off against Jean and her eyes are on fire and she's become the Dark Phoenix and they are talking about the war between humans and mutants and she says something along the lines of, "Don't worry, I'll put an end to it." And then we cut to this statue of Iwo Jima in Washington, as the sun is coming up, but it's still twilight and purple, and you see a flare of orange and it melts away. She fires through, on fire and blasts right through it. You see the Capitol Building and she flies up to the White House and lands into the middle of the street. We cut opposite and we see the entire army arrayed against her. She's like "Come on!" and we cut to black.
The above moment sadly wouldn't have helped in terms of the overall way Dark Phoenix was handled in X-Men: The Last Stand, but as a chilling moment that perfectly demonstrates how powerful she is, that would have been excellent to see unfold in a preview. Unlike in the comics, where Jean Grey as Phoenix was her being taken over by a cosmic entity, the cinematic Dark Phoenix was Jean Grey's alternate personality who had been suppressed for years. Admittedly, there was many other problems with X-Men: The Last Stand had, but the deviation from the source material with Dark Phoenix definitely didn't sit well with many longtime comic book fans.
More than a decade after X-Men: The Last Stand's release, the mutant franchise has already taken steps to give the Dark Phoenix storyline another go. In X-Men: Apocalypse, Sophie Turner's Jean Grey unleashed the full extent of her powers, i.e. the Phoenix force, against Apocalypse in the climactic battle. While not officially confirmed yet, the next X-Men movie, reportedly called X-Men: Supernova, will supposedly follow succumbing to the Dark Phoenix, leaving it to her X-Men teammates to snap her back to her normal self without being killed in the process. It remains to be seen whether any of the alien elements from the comics will be incorporated into a re-telling.
While we wait for more information on the so-called X-Men: Supernova, you can see the next X-Men saga installment, Logan, in theaters now.