The thing about Dark Phoenix is that it’s not egregiously incompetent, the execution isn’t really any worse than the worst of any superhero franchise, it’s just so…mystifyingly pointless. It is nothing. It is movie that had no reason to be made, and now that it’s here, has brought nothing to explain itself. I am reminded of that Amber Ruffin bit where she asks, searchingly, “Why did you do this, and what exactly is what you did? What is it for? Fun, nothing, what? Who gets something from it, and, why do they get what they get? And, what is what they get?”
Let’s attempt to answer some of these questions. Why? Fun. Nothing. What else are we doing.
First up, Why did you do this? That one is actually pretty simple to understand: money. They wanted to make money. Did they come up with a product that would achieve what they wanted? They did not—Dark Phoenix is poised to lose perhaps 100 million dollars. Whoopsie daisy.
—and what exactly is what you did? A much more interesting question! What they did is tricky to understand, because how do you understand something that is not anything, but the answer is probably why it is not, in fact, making them any money. Good superhero movies make money, bad superhero movies also make money. Dark Phoenix is making no money, because it didn’t manage to be either of those things. They didn’t make bad choices, which you know because bad choices are at least interesting. They made no choices. This whole movie is no choice at all. They adapted a story that this same studio has already done, that is how few choices they made. As a point of comparison, X-Men: Apocalypse. Apocalypse was a bad movie, because Apocalypse made bad choices, but holy shit were some of those CHOICES. Remember when a bunch of village policemen shot Magneto’s family with bows & arrows because otherwise he could have stopped the bullets? Remember when he tore up Auschwitz??! Remember when Xavier spent half the movie lounging on rocks in a periwinkle sweater and then lost all his hair through magic?? I would have killed for Dark Phoenix to have made choices that bananas.
What is it for? What is any of it for, WHAT IS IT ALL FOR. Listen this is too existential for me to answer.
Who gets something from it, and, why do they get what they get? Does anyone get anything from Dark Phoenix? Jennifer Lawrence, maybe, because she gets OUT of it. But for the rest of us, what we get is small and few. I got, like, three things from it, I think.
What is what they get?
1) The actor playing Jean’s father was Andrew Dussolier from The Young Pope
2) Magneto is reintroduced running a mutant separatist commune on an island, which was the sole area in this movie where they made a design choice and that was “cargo cult”
3) Learning that Emily spent the entire movie thinking Tye Sheridan was Ansel Elgort, and realizing there is honestly no difference
And that’s that then. Well, we’ll always have Paris I guess. Inside jokes for me and the 70 other people who have seen this movie.