Dark Phoenix is primed to push the X-Men film series into more mature territory.
Dark Phoenix is rapidly approaching. The film will be the last chapter in the main X-Men series due to Disney’s acquisition of Fox’s movie assets, and audiences are curious to see what’s in store for Charles Xavier and his superpowered gang. Breaking away from the tradition of keeping comic book tentpoles wrapped in secrecy, Fox has been very forthcoming about the film, even going as far as to reveal a major character death in a trailer.
Now with the film about to release, even more information is coming out about it. One of the most recent – and arguably one of the most interesting – tidbits about the project is that we can expect it to stretch the boundaries of its PG-13 rating quite a bit. Speaking with X-Men producer and Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg, Comicbook.com’s Brandon Davis brought up Dark Phoenix‘s intense action sequences and somewhat explicit language when compared to previous entries in Fox’s superhero franchise.
Kinberg was asked whether he had any trouble taking the film in a more adult direction, to which he replied he hadn’t, given that Fox trusted him after overseeing the franchise for so many years:
"“The studio has come to trust me in making these films, and when it came time […] I said, ‘Listen, I really want to direct this movie.” [My] vision for the film was a more intense, a more raw X-Men film than we’d done before. And so I was very clear with the studio from the beginning. I said, ‘Listen, this is going to push the envelope of the PG-13 X-Men movies that we’ve seen before. It’s going to be much more like the Dark Knight movies, or like ‘Logan’ […] And I felt like it was time for a change after 20 years of making these movies and this particular story, I think, requires an intensity to tell properly.”"
While Logan was an R-rated, Western-style adventure, the Dark Knight Trilogy is a perfect example of what it’s like to take PG-13 to a new level. Throughout the trilogy, we saw people getting killed by pencils through the eye, a man get half of his face graphically disfigured and a criminal get a wider grin. With that in mind, the prospect of Dark Phoenix taking things up a notch will likely be exciting for some faithful comic book readers.
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If you’re a comic book fan who loves to be on the edge of their seat when watching superhero adventures from start to finish, then this is probably the film for you, because Kinberg revealed that Dark Phoenix will turn up the intensity from the very first scene. As he explained earlier on in his interview with Comicbook.com:
"“[I] wanted to start with something really intense […] I just wanted the audience to know from the very beginning this is not your maybe broader, campier X-Men movie. This is the real deal. We’re going to be dealing with really intense emotions, really intense action, really intense drama […].”"
Interest in Dark Phoenix has dwindled throughout the past few months, to the point where the film is projected to have one of the lowest opening weekends in the entire X-Men franchise. This apparent disinterest appears to stem in part from fans fearing the movie being too similar to what we’ve gotten from the X-Men series in the past, specifically from 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. While those worries are understandable, Kinberg and Fox seem to have put a great deal of thought into making Dark Phoenix an experience unlike anything we’ve seen before from the mutant superhero team.
Granted, putting explicit language or turning up the violence doesn’t necessarily make for a good film, but it’s an exciting prospect when a movie calls for such a treatment. As Kinberg mentioned, Dark Phoenix deals with a lot of heavy themes and, therefore, needs to up the stakes and its maturity. Whether that approach will help the project’s box office numbers is difficult to tell. However, as evidenced by Deadpool, Deadpool 2 and Logan, Fox has a great track record of fusing superhero heroics with mature themes, so we’re excited to see what this means for the grand X-Men finale. Dark Phoenix flies into theaters on June 7, 2019.