The Biggest Lesson Dark Phoenix Learned From X-Men: The Last Stand

Sophie Turner as Jean Grey in Dark Phoenix

The first time The Dark Phoenix Saga was adapted for the big screen, it did not go well, as 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand is still considered one of the worst entries in the X-Men film franchise. The storyline is getting a second shot at cinematic redemption next year in Dark Phoenix, and according to director/writer Simon Kinberg, the biggest lesson this new movie learned from its predecessor is to make Jean Grey's transformation into the Phoenix the main focus, not a side story. Kinberg explained:

The biggest lesson learned from X-Men: The Last Stand or X3 was that if you are going to tell a Phoenix story, tell the Phoenix story. Don't make it the subplot of the movie. Make it the plot of the movie. So in this movie Jean/Phoenix is the absolute center as you see her on the one-sheet of the poster. She's the center. The movie is about her. The movie's about her crisis and the ways that it then affects all of the people around her. Some of whom love her. Some of whom see her as an enemy. Some of whom want to take advantage of her. But she's at the center of it. So the lesson we really learned was to tell the Dark Phoenix story the way that it was originally told. And it's been told in other iterations, whether it be other versions of the comics or versions in the cartoons, she was always the center of it. It was always about her emotional, psychological breakdown and all of the things that then broke.

2003's X2: X-Men United foreshadowed Jean Grey's first turn into the Phoenix well enough when she sacrificed herself to save the other protagonists, and a Phoenix-like shape was later shown rising from Alkali Lake. But Jean's return and subsequent corruption in X-Men: The Last Stand had to share screen time with the other big plot, Worthington Labs creating a mutant cure. The result was that The Dark Phoenix Saga of it all wasn't given nearly as much attention as it deserved, but apparently Simon Kinberg, who co-wrote X-Men: The Last Stand, has learned from this mistake.

While Dark Phoenix certainly looks like it's taking its own creative liberties with adapting The Dark Phoenix Saga, Jean Grey not being front and center will definitely not be a problem, as evidenced by the first trailer. As Kinberg noted in his chat with ScreenRant at New York Comic-Con, the crux of this story, no matter how different it may look from the original comic book tale, is exploring how Jean losing control of her incredible abilities affects those around her and how these individuals argue about the best means to neutralize her.

Set in 1992, almost a decade after X-Men: Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix will see Jean Grey taking on the eponymous moniker after being struck by a solar flare during a rescue mission in space. Just like in the previous timeline, Jean's fall to darkness will lead to a lot of death and destruction, but this time around, she will also be manipulated by an alien shapeshifter (played by Jessica Chastain) who wants to use the Phoenix's powers for her own goals.

Dark Phoenix will be released in theaters on June 7, 2019, so keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more updates. In the meantime, look through our X-Men movies guide to learn what else the mutant franchise has in development, as well as our 2019 release schedule to find out what other blockbusters are arriving next year.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.