The X-Men movies are a lot like Star Trek films, and not just due to Sir Patrick Stewart–both series tend to have great films followed by good followed by epic fails. Then the cycle repeats. Will it be so with DARK PHOENIX?
This isn’t a function of genre, since Marvel can take silly superheroes like Ant Man or Chris Pratt plus a talking tree and his pet raccoon and turn both concepts into billions of dollars. They can take anything and make it work.
Meanwhile, DC can have the best superhero of all time, Batman, and still find ways to screw it up.
It’s the same thing with Star Trek and Star Wars, both franchises so enduring that I bet you my house they’ll be making and remaking Spock tales and lightsaber battles when our son has grandsons and those grandsons have grandsons.
The first X-Men movie was brilliant, just like the first rebooted Trek movie (remember: Chris Pine as Kirk, that one). The second one was good, just like the second Star Trek with Sherlock/Dr. Strange playing Khan.
Then the third versions of both movies stank.
Every movie ticket is a gamble
We got redemption in the mutant world with young Magneto and Xavier with Hair, then a stinker with APOCALYPSE but another good one with DAYS OF FUTURE PAST.
The exception to this rule with the mutant movies is Wolverine, with the first movie a horrible mess, the second one not much better and only LOGAN kicking butt the way Wolverine should.
So it’s a gamble, every time, when we’re talking X-Men, and they’re looking to impress the new bosses with Marvel finally bringing them into the fold from Sony or Fox or whoever. OK, it was Fox.
Take a look the trailer, then we’ll chat about whether this promises to be terribly good or a hot mess.
Looking for clues in the trailer
I won’t dissect every second of this trailer to figure out all the things you can find people obsessing about elsewhere, like whether this is set in 1983 or 1984 based on the license plate of a car glimpsed in frame 324 or whatever.
The big picture is what matters. Will this movie fill us with wonder or be a Mountain of Meh?
Arguing on behalf of Mountain of Meh: the fact the biggest stinker so far, the third original X-Men movie, featured this same storyline: Jean Grey losing it to become Dark Phoenix, killing Professor Xavier in a shocking twist they shockingly retconned into oblivion the next movie. Then she laid waste to half of San Fran, looking completely unstoppable until Hugh Jackman popped his claws.
Are we looking at repeat? I don’t think so.
The case for Filling Us with Wonder is pretty good.
Many bad comic book movies have bad, frenetic trailers. They’re in a hurry to show how fast and fun the movie will be. Explosions! Fights! All kinds of office buildings and cars in a CGI Gotham (or Manhattan) get destroyed!
This trailer is a slow burn.
Also a good sign: the director isn’t some noob. We’re talking about Simon Kinberg.
More positive signs: the gang is back together, including Michael Fassbender as young Magneto (yes!) and James McAvoy as Professor Xavier.
Finally: The entire mood of the trailer is gritty and dark, but not in a forced, DC way.
I’m far more impressed than I expected and actually want to see this in the theater.