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Before superhero movies and shared universes became commonplace, there was the X-Men franchise. The mutant-centric property debuted back in 2000, and recently debuted its final outing for the property with Dark Phoenix. Directed by longtime producer Simon Kinberg, the often delayed movie is full of high stakes and a decidedly toned down approach when compared to its predecessor Apocalypse.
Simon Kinberg made his directorial debut with Dark Phoenix, attempting to shake up the franchise, and give an interesting finale for the long-running series of blockbusters. And it turns out that he was influenced by another set of superhero movies: Christopher Nolan's acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy. Kinberg recently explained taking inspiration from within the genre, saying:
Obviously there are the supernatural, fantastical elements from the source material and it was important to me that we included the cosmic intergalactic storyline from the comics because we hadn’t seen any of that in X-Men films yet. The superhero movies that were most inspiring to me were like Logan and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.
Well, this is interesting. The X-Men franchise is typically one for major spectacle, especially in the most recent installments like Days of Future Past and Apocalypse. But Simon Kinberg most took inspiration from installments in the genre that are more toned down and character-driven.
Simon Kinberg has been open about his hopes to pull the franchise back with Dark Phoenix, and give the iconic comic plot line enough room to breathe. This included cutting certain characters, so that Sophie Turner's title character and her internal struggles could be fleshed out on screen. As such, it stands to reason that Logan and The Dark Knight might have helped shape the story Kinberg was trying to tell.
In his same conversation with io9, the Dark Phoenix director went in to explain how Christopher Nolan's trilogy of superhero movies influenced the new blockbuster, saying:
Ironically, the first half of Batman Begins is my favorite chunk of the Dark Knight movies. Obviously, they’re all masterpieces, but the first half of Batman Begins before he becomes Batman, I just found so relatable because he’s just a guy. He doesn’t have his suit or an alter ego. He’s not off fighting crime. I approached Dark Phoenix with those films in mind, and wanted to emphasize the character drama. The movie needed to be more raw and intimate and personal than we’d done with the franchise before.
Once again, Simon Kinberg makes a solid point. While the Dark Knight trilogy eventually saw Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne transform into the Batman we know and love, it was a slow and steady journey. And in Batman Begins, there is a long origin story before the title character ever suits up to face a villain in Gotham City.
Dark Phoenix was certainly set up for some lofty goals, especially in ending the X-Men franchise as we know it. With 20th Century Fox's merger with Disney official, the House of Mouse has the rights over the mutant-centric Marvel property moving forward. And it seems like Marvel Studios may give it a few years to breathe before bringing the X-Men into the larger cinematic universe.
Unfortunately, Simon Kinberg's directorial debut is having some trouble in the box office, and is poised to lose up to $100 million as a result. It's an unfortunate state of events, especially with so many big concepts factoring into the story of the big screen sequel.
Dark Phoenix is in theaters now. Be sure to check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.