Like many blockbusters before it, Dark Phoenix set aside time for reshoots, with cameras rolling last fall, almost a year after principal photography had wrapped. Sometimes the extra footage gathered from reshoots is only meant to make minor changes to the movie, but in Dark Phoenix’s case, it was part of a bigger overhaul that included shifting the location of the climax.
When Dark Phoenix was rolling cameras, the plan was for the final battle to take place out in space, but once reshoots came around, the entire third act was changed and it now has the X-Men characters being kidnapped and imprisoned aboard a military train instead. We’ve seen snippets of this sequence in past trailers, and it ultimately leads to the corrupted Jean Grey lifting the train into the air while everyone is still on board.
Although Dark Phoenix is a relatively more grounded adaptation of The Dark Phoenix Saga, this version definitely has more of a cosmic feel, namely because Jean’s transformation into Phoenix occurs during a rescue mission in space and Jessica Chastain’s still-unidentified character is an alien shapeshifter. So it’s peculiar that rather than keep that cosmic flavor going in the climax, it was decided ahead of reshoots to keep the action Earthbound instead.
It wasn’t specifically explained why Dark Phoenix’s climax was changed during reshoots, although it wasn’t the only major adjustment implemented later in the game. During postproduction, the look of the Phoenix was also revamped to look more “cosmic” and less “flamy,” which is a departure from the entity’s appearance in the source material.
Director Simon Kinberg also spoke with EW about how difficult it was to make his directorial debut on Dark Phoenix, saying:
I think the biggest challenge is modulating the film so that we have the big scale and visual-effects action that these movies require, but balancing that in a way that feels calibrated with the drama. You have these big space sequences and trains flying through the air and people firing lightning bolts, but you also have a lot of emotional, four-page dramatic dialogue scenes.
Simon Kinberg confirmed at the beginning of the month that Dark Phoenix will be the last installment of the main X-Men film series that began in 2000, thus paving the way for the mutant property to be rebooted within the Marvel Cinematic Universe down the line. So ideally Dark Phoenix ends things with a bang, and while that train sequence will surely be filled with action and excitement, it feels awfully similar to what we’ve seen in past X-Men movies.
A clash in space, on the other hand, would have been unique, special and tangentially faithful to the comics, so I’m curious as to why that was tossed out during reshoots. Evidently budget wasn’t an issue if the crew had the money to film an entirely new sequence, so maybe after Dark Phoenix has been released, we’ll learn the specific reasoning for why the climax was so drastically changed.
Dark Phoenix opens in theaters on June 7, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more coverage. You can also check out our 2019 release schedule to find out what other movies come out later this year.