I have to be honest: Up until now, I haven’t been sold on Dark Phoenix as a theatrical experience. None of the trailers for this next and last in this run of X-Men films have made me feel as if this is a must-see blockbuster of epic proportions. Considering this is the end of an era, and the property’s popularity in the past, that had been kind of a worrying sign. Thankfully, there's been one final trailer to turn the tide for me.
When I sat down to watch this final trailer for director Simon Kinberg’s big turn at bat, I found I'm actually pretty excited to see the finished product that is Dark Phoenix. There’s a couple of really big reasons why this morning’s final trailer to the end of the X-Men universe as we know it has me absolutely hyped, and I'm glad to share them with you as we're not too far out from experiencing this pretty big happening.
Now comparing that trailer for Dark Phoenix to all others, there’s a pretty big jump in my feelings towards the material. The rhythm of this new trailer is the cleanest I’ve seen out of all of the Dark Phoenix materials, which is surprising considering there’s not all that much different in terms of what’s being presented.
All the other Dark Phoenix spots did have most of the same building blocks and story beats. Jean absorbs a weird energy source and becomes unstable, mystery character Jessica Chastain is encouraging her to embrace this new power, and the world feels like it’s going to be in for some massive hurting. This is the A-Z story we’ve been presented with, and for the most part I’ve remained skeptical, but willing to be swayed.
The swaying came with this final look at Dark Phoenix, as it lays it all of the same points we’ve seen, but with a better sense of urgency. We see a glimpse of the space rescue that starts it all, with a panicked Cyclops being a perfect catalyst to push the rest of the footage along. After that, it’s a pretty quick and sliding scale from Jean’s miraculous survival to her campaign of utter desolation. She’s embraced pain and she’s not afraid of inflicting it.
Which leads to another reason Dark Phoenix has me sold: Sophie Turner’s performance as Jean Grey. When added to the lineup in X-Men: Apocalypse, she was a key player, but still a member of a growing ensemble. Everyone knew how important she would be to the story, and it was touched upon briefly in that film as a sort of tease for the future.
Dark Phoenix definitely looks like it not only acknowledges that promise, it fulfills it entirely; and it’s because of the growth Turner is allowed to exhibit within this character. The scene in the final trailer that really sold me on Jean Grey as a threat is when she confronts Michael Fassbender’s Magneto. Up until this point, he’s felt like the most powerful mutant on the side of the protagonists in the X-Men films.
Regardles, that moment where Jean breaks his ever-important helmet and she tells him that threatening her isn’t the best idea is the sharpest contrast from the Jean we saw in X-Men: Apocalypse, and it properly sets the table for the main course: a fight between the X-Men and one of their own. Sophie Turner’s simultaneously threatening and sympathetic character makes it all go round more smoothly than I could have ever imagined. If you’re going to end a series like the X-Men, at least for the time being, you need to send them off on a pretty big note.
That’s what this Dark Phoenix footage really feels like it’s setting up. It’s the end of an era, with a grand finale to something that kicked off so long ago in X-Men, and was reborn in X-Men: First Class. Much like Avengers: Endgame has been spelling out the end of the line for the first story arc in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Dark Phoenix’s last look before the big show has given weight to this apocalyptic event. There is a schism coming to the X-Men universe, and nothing will be the same once it’s concluded.
Prior to now, it hadn’t felt this serious, but now, it’s feeling pretty grave. The X-Men series has always been about fear of “the other,” with Charles Xavier and his mutants being on the side of good an acceptance. But now, with Jean Grey’s Phoenix powers, the man and his students are thrown into another microcosm of that argument; and they’re not exactly on the same side as they’ve traditionally been on.
If that’s not a note to end an X-Men story arc on, I don’t know what is; and this last trailer has given me so much to think about and anticipate with this new film. Again, all of this was in previous trailers, but the presentation in this latest one really drives all of the pieces home for me as a viewer. That’s even taking into account the fact that this trailer is more ambiguous about what exactly happens to Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique, despite the promotional material previous to this point basically spoiling that plot point pretty obviously.
Having discussed all of that, let's take a look at the final trailer for Dark Phoenix one last time, and revel in what it portends:
This final trailer to Dark Phoenix not only has me ready to get out to see the spectacle that awaits, it also has me thinking this could be the best X-Men movie since First Class. I’m surprised that Fox didn’t lead with this sort of marketing push, because this would have been the best launching pad to a potentially huge and engrossing campaign overall. That being said, in the era of stealth release drops and streaming giants marketing a film mere hours before it’s set to debut, this could be the studio’s way of adapting to the modern marketplace.
It hasn’t been an easy road for Dark Phoenix, so revolutionary and outside-the-box methods such as this do feel like an experimental way to branch traditional theatrical promotions into the future. Whatever the case may be, I’m totally on board to see the full extent of the devastation that Jean Grey will bring to the X-Men universe. And I’ll be there on opening night to see first it among the die hard fans.
Dark Phoenix unleashes darkness upon the world on June 7th.
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