COMMENTARY: X-Men: Dark Phoenix – Condemned To Failure or Exactly What We Need?

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X-loving people have never been so divided; but why? Or, a better question, will those begging for change get what they want, or will they be proved wrong either the newest installment of the XCU?

The X-Men Cinematic Universe; a controversial franchise that began in 2000, and has become one of the highest grossing superhero franchises today. The franchise was speculated to come to an end with it’s last underwhelming to some, satisfying to others, film; X-Men Apocalypse. X-Men Apocalypse shook the ground for the franchise, bringing those who despise the franchise to a final decision; the XCU would never give the X-Men what they truly deserve. But, it also pleased dedicated, hardcore fans of the film franchise for being a fun, comical, and decent addition to the roster of films. Of course, the rumor ran wild that, even with the final installment of the Wolverine trilogy; Logan, coming out, as well as the continued Deadpool films, that the mainstream X-Men wouldn’t be seen anytime soon, or maybe ever again.

This rumor was put to rest soon enough though; in 2017, the next untitled, unknown X-Men film was announced by Fox. It was in the works and to be filmed later that year; and fans prayed for a step up from the shaky X-Men: Apocalypse.

Of course, after the controversial Apocalypse that sent the fanbase into a split frenzy, the return of the X-Men was a surprise, for sure! But, was it such a welcome one?

Simon Kinberg, a known producer and a man who’s been doing X-Men movies since day one, signed on to write AND direct this new film after Brian Singer left the franchise when X-Men: Apocalypse bombed. LEFT, mind you, not fired. But, was Simon the right choice? Unfortunately, fans of the X-Men find joy in ridiculing either Brian Singer or Simon Kinberg…who have been the head honchos for the past decade. Said fans outraged when Simon was brought back due to his infamous work on X-Men: The Last Stand.
In mid-2017, a release date and working title were confirmed for the next X-Men film; and it was X-Men Supernova, set to be released in November 2018. Only a few short months after THAT, we got the official title for the film; and it rocked some boats.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix was the brand new title! It created quite the tuft in some feathers, but nothing can stop the inevitable.

As time went on, Dark Phoenix was mentioned less and less. And then, low and behold, we receive images, courtesy of ‘EMPIRE’ Magazine. We receive multiple screenshots of Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey gone Phoenix, and beautifully captured may I add? We also receive more information on the film, and the vision Simon Kinberg has input on the film.

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But, things only go downhill from there; reports come out quite a while later, early 2018 to be exact, that the film’s release date had been altered; it’s been pushed three months back, to February 14th, 2019 to be exact. Why? Well, Simon Kinberg reveals the plans to do reshoots or the film, needing those extra months for completion. Okay, so what? Movies undergo reshoots all the time! Unfortunately, when films in a certain fanbase have called for reshoots, said fans tend to look back on a certain film called Justice League’s failure due to 90% of the film being reshot, and deemed a disaster for it. But, reshoots aren’t abnormal, so not a big deal is made about it, or moreso, should be made about it.

Of course, since then, not much on the film has been released. People patiently await a teaser, whether it be a trailer or a poster. But, nothing of the sort is in sight! February of this year, Fox held test-screenings; and those who didn’t care for spoilers attended. News sites and articles revealed the test-screenings came back positive; revealing the film wasn’t on the same level as X-Men: Days of Future Past, but it was deemed better than X-Men: First Class. Both good films, deeming it “better than First Class”, while a personal opinion from someone who MUST enjoy the franchise, is a good sign! So, we’re off to a good start, one that was instilling some sort of hope back into people who didn’t care for the franchise any longer.

In instances such as these, fans like to think the worst possible things, especially about this franchise, which leads to expectations that aren’t met, which leads to hatred. Now, is that hatred fairly placed? Simon Kinberg and even the newer, younger cast from X-Men Apocalypse confirmed at many points that his vision and how he handled the filming and connections within filming were miles ahead of what had occurred with X-Men: Apocalypse. Simon claimed in several interviews that he had done wrong with the Last Stand, allowing it to go the way it did and saw X-Men: Dark Phoenix as a chance of redemption. He constantly lets off his love for the franchise, as well as for the original Phoenix storyline in interviews and such. So, entrusting this man with such a pivotal and important storyline is, in my honest opinion, far from what I’ve seen of his attitude.

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Another example of a lethal hit blown by the fans was, only hours after Simon Kinberg’s return was revealed, people everywhere jumped on the fact that Fox had already tried with the Phoenix storyline, and failed thanks to the liking of Kinberg. Why? Well, people blame the man who’s been working the XCU films since the old days (X-Men 2000), instead of those who were brought on and immediately fired for their mistakes. I’m looking at you, Brett Ratner. Simon Kinberg stepped up to write the script for the Last Stand, but his original vision that stayed along the lines of the original comic arc was destroyed and rewritten by Brett Ratner. The monstrosity that called itself Phoenix WAS tried once, but a second chance is often the best way of proving that not everyone was to blame for such an incident. This is where the fans just cannot grasp that…

So, close to a week ago, more information on X-Men: Dark Phoenix surfaced. Where from?

Reddit; you’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. A Reddit user created a post, one that would spark and fan the flame of the X-Men fanbase’s hatred yet again. This user claimed to have seen the test-screenings back in February and took it upon himself to post not only the plot summary but a read-through of the entire Dark Phoenix film. Now, for reasons that will not mention, I am NOT including said spoilers in this blog post.

Follow this link if you’d like to read up on the potential spoilers: X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ Spoilers Leaked Online

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So, this user incorporated his personal opinion into the supposed facts of what the film was, claiming it was “garbage” and “not well-done”.

To quote the only line that didn’t contain a spoiler from his post, “I do believe some things won’t change. What can’t change is the movie being really underwhelming. Really lower your expectation because this one is not good.”

For fans of the franchise, and even those who were willing to give it a try, this does NOT sound good. The potential spoilers were released with precautions, letting those reading know the leaks MAY or MAY NOT be real. Of course, social media took hold shortly after. Most every news site on Facebook or Instagram was posting about these leaks, not only creating click-bait titles but acknowledging the leaks as if they were facts. And those who read them didn’t respond to the leaks well AT ALL; hatred sprouted because of them. It didn’t help the man wrote the post in a very downgrading way, as well as mentioned vaguely that the test-screening that he viewed as an unfinished and incomplete version of the film.

Now, onto the good stuff!
This all happened about a week or two ago, and you can bet the very next day, after the supposed leaks spread from one end of the internet to the other, it all fell to ashes. The day after the Reddit user posted these leaks, Reddit themselves called the user out as a fake, as well as his spoilers/leaks being completely false. The user was banned and the post was deleted, and everyone was silent. As I’ve been saying, I experienced this all first hand; it went from people getting their panties in a bunch…to complete silence on the fact. Why? Because every one of them who used those leaks as fair reasoning for their opinions and to hate what they haven’t even experienced was proven to be gullible, pathetic human beings. They took what is most prominent in this day and age, (rumors), and turned them into false facts to use to make themselves feel superior; as if these rumored leaks gave them a power over those who denied what they thought.

This was the exact quote on Reddit; “Apparently, the test-screening guy was Atlanta Filming; who created an account and sent fake spoilers/leaks, trying to discredit other bloggers because he wanted to be “”the only legit source””.

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And herein lies the problem… People took leaks from an unconfirmed source who supposedly saw the test-screenings and claimed them as fact. The user was neither confirmed as legitimate nor was there any shred of proof behind his words. But, those who had brought nothing but their personal hatred onto the franchise took this information and used it to fuel their own reasoning as well as put down anyone who may defend Fox’s X-Men. I witnessed and experienced the entire ordeal first hand; I found myself feeling obligated to be the voice of reason, making people realize that not only were they being fueled by rumors, but allowing them to be claimed as facts and using them as examples of Fox’s do-wrongs.

So, months before the film even premiers, there is already a huge controversy around it; and all the hate revolves around rumors, personal wants and preferences, and pure hatred that comes from usually misguided people. And among the swarms, we find the problems I want to discuss. 1) People judging or condemning those who find enjoyment where they do not. This leads to mass amounts of persecution; which leads to a fine split made between the fans. 2) Holding onto past experiences that may have been displeasing and using it as an excuse for hating what the future holds. This happens in all fandoms, but as for the X-Men; this leads to poor box office numbers and films failing, which hurts the company, which in turn hurts the very film industry.

I read the spoilers myself, and coming from a critical standpoint, they really made the film out to be a character drama, with sprinkles of that superhero-esque; not only including key points that were direct references to the original comic arc but very unique and original content. Coming from the standpoint of a fan of the franchise, it sounded very deep and entertaining.

Everything that happened stopped just like that; the day after, nary a peep from ANYONE.

Why did it get people in such a panic? Well, you mix reshoots, messy track-records, and spiteful opinions and you get full-on domination of the fanboys who do everything in their power to make sure those who actually have hope and love for this franchise are discredited and feel as if they don’t matter. Reshoots started, and that’s what frightened people. Ever since then, and even before, the XCU franchise has been a fragile thing. How long can it hold up? Well, until the film premiers, and we are sitting in a barely-filled theater watching a film people brought down before it even had a chance, and THAT is what’s wrong, that’s the problem. It’s the venom and spiteful feelings and needs to be acknowledged that drives people to boycott and empty theaters. It’s for that reason the film isn’t looking like it’ll turn out well; not because of the quality, or the story, or the build of the film…it’s because people want acknowledgment, they want their way and studios to listen. They want those in control to bow to their wishes, and anything beyond that exact way of life is considered just plain WRONG.

An example to back my claim; the MCU. It has built a universe of not only formulaic, and childish films, but its success is due to fans outcrying for certain elements and they are given them. Every film they push out shows their bending to their fan’s will’s and providing exactly what they ask for. If Kevin Feige or Joss Whedon isn’t on the project, it must be terrible! Because that’s the way it works; if I don’t get what I ask for or something close enough, then I have no respect nor want to be any part of what it is. The mindset is infuriating…

Now, none of this is to say Fox hasn’t made mistakes, and these mistakes aren’t going to be nor deserve to be forgotten; Last Stand, Origins, and Apocalypse for some were failures. It isn’t hard to realize that, but learning to accept what was and looking forward to possible change in what’s to come is what we need to remember. Keeping the right attitude is all it takes, and refusing to think anything related to a certain “bad” film can be somewhat decent is not what we should do.

Holding onto the past and using that to define the future isn’t life, and it shouldn’t be done like that just because certain numbers of fans want a certain thing somewhere or in something else. Independent filmmakers and freedom are what makes films unpredictable and loveable, or it’s what makes them a flop. But not knowing what you’re getting because the franchise isn’t under your will and heeding your every want is exactly what has made the XCU so successful! It’s had a total of what, three flops? This is considering box office numbers…three out of eleven films that are considered failures is NOTHING! But personal preferences and opinions drive those to downgrade and claiming other films that were well-built, decent films with good build-up and character development; why? Because their requirements weren’t met.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story is an AMAZING example of fans getting angry because they don’t get what they want exactly pasted from their minds and onto the silver screen, and the film does badly not because it’s a bad film, but because it was so badly received because the hatred bubbled before the film even came out. The lashing out and discrimination people have against a film they haven’t even tried yet is something that NEEDS to be neglected or put down, not encouraged through news sites and click-bait articles. If you didn’t like Apocalypse, boo-hoo; so sorry. Move on and make up your opinion based on seeing the next film and how you may or may not like it, not because of how you may have felt about previous films. THAT is why X-Men: Dark Phoenix may crash and burn.

What can we take from this? Opinions; they are what our very thoughts fuel, our own personal preferences, our likes and dislikes put into thought-out and orchestrated feelings. What do opinions have in common with facts? Mm, nothing. Facts may be included in an opinion, maybe to back your views or thoughts. But personal opinions are neither right nor wrong, they simply are.

An opinion, no matter whose, isn’t wrong, nor is it right. It’s just an opinion, which is fueled by one’s thoughts on a single thing. That is not wrong. Using facts to back your opinion and how decent or indecent something maybe isn’t wrong either! But taking that ability as a power, using falsities and lies and using an opinion as a weapon against others to hatefully show that you are part of a majority who you deem superior isn’t okay. It’s what makes fandoms toxic in most areas, it’s what leads films to be boycotted and driven into the ground without the chance of praise. It’s what X-Men: Dark Phoenix is looking at right now. The failure of this film MAY be set upon a crappy story or just mistakes of the maker that don’t make it for a well-done film; these are mistakes that may or may not make the film a flop, but you cannot determine that accurately nor fairly until you watch it and deem it so.
What needs to be realized more than anything is other’s opinions aren’t relevant to whatever they may be about, and neither is yours. What matters is respect; what matters is a caring nature and willingness to give something a chance, as well as showing others who disagree with you that respect.

I love the films and support them, the franchise will always rank high for me because I see it so differently than some others and enjoy those differences for the reasons they were purposefully put in place. Seeing the endless articles and sites constantly pouring fuel on the fanboy fire is sickening; it’s sickening that an opinion can’t even be formed AFTER the experience, nor can one that even tries to be the voice of reason hope to be deemed acceptable.

So I ask of you, if you see this franchise as something that needs to end because you haven’t been pleased…then okay; but if you are taking that and using that as an excuse to spite the films in the future, as well as the franchise, then you are part of the ever-growing problem. Chances are given only once, and it matters SO MUCH how you perceive whatever you may be giving a chance to. Whether it’s a film you have low expectations for, or so on and so forth. Whether you end up liking it or hating it as you may have thought previously; you will NEVER know exactly until you walk out of the theater and you’ve built an opinion on the film. Don’t build yourself up for disappointment when you already know what to expect; instead, just see the movie. It’s that simple, and anything after is fully justified.

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And lastly, to quote Jack Fisher’s Official Publishing Blog;
“In terms of the bigger picture, it’s good for superhero movies, as a whole, if X-Men: Dark Phoenix succeeds. It’s unhealthy for the genre if the MCU is the only acceptable avenue for quality superhero movies. We’ve seen with Wonder Woman, from the DCEU, that it IS possible for a superhero movie to succeed in a world without Robert Downey Jr. or Chris Pratt.

X-Men Dark Phoenix deserves the same chance. That’s why I intend to keep my expectations high, but cautious for this movie. Even if it turns out good, though, I worry that it will be undercut by too many people who are eager to hate it. It would be both a tragedy for the movie and all those involved, and for the genre as a whole.”

“That’s my message to the world…”
-Charles Xavier

I’d also like to throw a shout out to my editorial consultant, Nate Silver, who aided me in piecing together this post.

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