Tag Archives: Professor Xavier

Jack’s Fan Theories | Marvel Cinematic Universe | The Onslaught Theory

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is my first attempt at a fan theory. For this theory, I attempt to surmise a way for Marvel Studios to integrate mutants into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We already know they’re coming. Kevin Feige has announced it. A variant of Charles Xavier showed up in Multiverse of Madness. And mutation was directly referenced in the finale of Ms. Marvel.

But even though we know mutants are set to enter the MCU, there remains a number of pressing questions.

Where have they been all this time?

Why did mutants never show up during major events like Infinity War?

This theory, which I call the Onslaught Theory, attempts to answer that with a hypothetical scenario that builds directly on recent events. Please note this is just my personal theory. It may or may not get debunked in the near future.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's World, Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, superhero comics, superhero movies, X-men, YouTube

Dr. Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness: Reaction, Speculation, And Theories

The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a quick reaction video I made after the latest trailer to “Dr. Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness.” Please note I do discuss potential spoilers and rumors/leaks that have not been verified. I also do my own share of speculation and theorizing. Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's World, Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies, X-men, YouTube

New Comic Book Day June 16, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

I’ve always been an early riser. However, that’s not necessarily a habit by choice. When I was a teenager, I had to be up at 5:00 a.m. just to catch the bus to school. I lived on one of the worst bus routes in the district in that we were the first to get picked up. That meant it was often still dark out.

Waking up that early sucked for the most part. I was already an angsty teenager prone to misery and being so groggy in the morning didn’t help. That said, getting into that habit did have some perks. It certainly helped me later on in life when I began working. However, it really showed its value when comics started coming out digitally every Wednesday morning.

Suddenly, I wasn’t getting up that early out of habit. I had a damn good reason to be up at 5:00 a.m. That incentive definitely grew once I got an iPad. Now, I could just slip out of bed, grab my iPad, and indulge in a stack of digital comics before putting on any underwear. It’s a magical feeling.

That feeling is only more magical during weeks like this. Sometimes, just by sheer luck of release schedules, there’s a glut of awesome new comics, including some major event books and one-shots. There’s Heroes Reborn, the Hellfire Gala, and the wedding of Dr. Doom. That’s a lot to take in, especially in the early morning hours. Since I’m an early riser, I like to think I’m more equipped than most take it all in.

I know not everyone is up this early. I honestly envy the ability to just sleep in on a whim. If you’re a comic fan, though, some things are worth getting up this early for. When you see some of the books that came out this week, you’ll understand. Here’s my pull list and pick. After some of these books, I doubt you’ll be groggy. Enjoy!


My Pull List

BRZRKR #3

Catwoman #32

Fantastic Four #33

The Flash #771

Heroes Reborn #7

Heroes Reborn: Weapon X & Final Flight #1

The Mighty Valkyries #3

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #27

New Mutants #19

Nightwing #81

Planet-Sized X-Men #1

Star Wars #12

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1

Venom #200

Static: Season One #1

X-Corp #2


My Pick Of The Week
Planet-Sized X-Men #1

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic

New Comic Book Day June 9, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

When I was a kid, I had an exceedingly limited budget for comics. Even though they were cheaper years ago, the cost did add up. My love of comics was just that strong. Most of the time, that meant saving every penny I earned through allowances, chores, or birthday cards. Then, I had to basically look at a wall of comics and agonize over which to choose.

As a kid, it taught me a lot about managing a personal budget. That served me very well later in life. It also helped me appreciate the money I earned later on. These days, I don’t have to be quite as stingy with my comic book budget. That’s not to say I splurge every week. There are some books that I hold off on buying until a graphic novel compilation comes out. That’s just not as necessary as it used to be.

I imagine that if digital comics were around when I was a kid, I would’ve struggled even more to manage my comics budget. I like to think I’m fairly disciplined. I’m not sure that discipline would stand in the face of having unlimited comics at my fingertips through Comixology. In that sense, I’m glad I’ve managed as well as I have.

To those who are on a tighter budget than me, I hope my weekly pull lists help you make the most of every dollar you spend. There’s a time and a place to splurge on comics. The key is knowing when that time is and what to splurge on. I’m not saying this week is one of those times, but given the ongoing events across multiple major franchises, I can’t say it isn’t.

I’ll let you be the judge. Here is my pull list and pick. Please spend wisely, but if you need to splurge, I totally understand. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Amazing Spider-Man #68

Batman: The Detective #3

Children of the Atom #4

DC Pride #1

Detective Comics #1037

Excalibur #21

Heroes Reborn #6

Heroes Reborn: Night-Gwen #1

Iron Man #9

The Joker #4

Justice League: Last Ride #2

Mighty Morphin #8

Spider-Man: The Spider’s Shadow #3

W.E.B. Of Spider-Man #1

Wonder Woman #773

X-Men #21


My Pick Of The Week
X-Men #21

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic

New Comic Book Day June 2, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

It’s June! Last year, that was just a formality, due to global events that I’d rather not dwell on. This year, we can actually say it with some enthusiasm. We made it to June and it’s New Comic Book Day. What’s not to love?

Summer has finally arrived. The schools are letting out after another crazy year. Things are finally opening up, much more so than they did last year. This summer, we will be able to go to a ball game. We will be able to go to a pool, a concert, a movie theater, or night club. We’ll even be able to go to a restaurant without having to wear a mask. If you’re not shedding tears of joy right now, then you have no soul.

I’m ready to embrace this summer in a way that I haven’t embraced a season since high school. A big part of that effort will involve comics. This time around, I’ll actually be able to enjoy them while lounging by a pool, sitting at a restaurant, or just wandering about. I cannot overstate how much I’m looking forward to that. With warm weather and a world that’s less chaotic, this is a great time to just enjoy summer like never before.

To all those still digesting their Memorial Day barbecue, I encourage you to do the same. Make the extra effort to enjoy this summer. Whether you’re a kid out of school or an adult still working, find a way to do something special. Let today mark the beginning of that effort and what better way to start then with a stack of new comics? To help, here’s my pull list and picks. Enjoy!


My Pull List

Amazing Spider-Man #67

Batman #109

Batman/Catwoman #5

Black Cat #7

Crime Syndicate #4

Hellion #12

Heroes Reborn #5

Immortal Hulk #47

The Invincible Red Sonja #2

Justice League #62

Marauders #21

Non-Stop Spider-Man #3

Rick and Morty: Rick’s New Hat #1

The Trials Of Loki: Marvel Tales #1

X-Force #20


My Pick Of The Week
Marauders #21

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic

New Comic Book Day October 28, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

The week of Halloween is a fun week. I don’t care how old you are. If you can’t have fun on a week dominated by candy, cheesy horror movies, and women dressing in slutty costumes, then you’re just being difficult. Even if you don’t go out trick-or-treating, Halloween has a little something for everyone to enjoy.

Add a stack of new comics to the mix and it’s like adding an extra layer of icing to a cake. It just makes everything so much sweeter. Now, it used to be that comic companies would often create Halloween special issues. While that still exists for some publishers, namely Zenescope, most have moved away from that.

Even without those specials, you can usually find a few comics that fit right into the Halloween spirit. Sometimes, it’s a simple Hulk comic. Sometimes, it’s Blade or John Constantine. It doesn’t have to be horror themed, but if it’s bloody, brutal, and has lots of elaborate costumes, it’s often close enough.

New Comic Book Day is festive enough. Add a little Halloween candy and a pumpkin latte to the mix and you’re really in the spirit. This year may suck, especially for Halloween parties, but there are still ways to celebrate. Comics and candy are as good as any.

In that spirit, here is my pull list and picks for the week. It may still be a bit premature, but I’ll say it anyways. Happy Halloween!


My Pull List

Action Comics #1026

Amazing Spider-Man #51

Batgirl #50

Batman Beyond #48

Batman: Three Jokers #3

Black Widow: Widow’s Sting #1

Detective Comics #1029

Dr. Doom #8

Fantastic Four: Antithesis #3

Immortal Hulk #39

Justice League Dark #27

Power Rangers: Drakkon New Dawn #3

Rick and Morty #1: Ever After

Shang-Chi #2

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #5

Wonder Woman #765

X Of Swords: Stasis #1


My Pick Of The Week
X Of Swords: Stasis #1

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic

Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: Powers of X #6

When assessing the greatness of a particular story arc in comics, there are many factors to consider. There’s the quality of the writing, the strength of the characterization, the cohesiveness of the plot, the vibrancy of the artwork, and how it all fits together in terms of the greater narrative. Many comics succeed in some of these areas and are worth reading. Very few manage to succeed in most.

I usually try to avoid spoiling too much of a great story, but I will spoil one thing. “Powers of X #6,” and the overall story arc it capped off, is among those select few. In the history of X-Men comics, Marvel Comics, and superhero comics in general, this is one of those stories that will likely stand out as an example of what’s possible when all the right story elements are in place.

Writer Jonathan Hickman has always been someone with big ideas who builds even bigger stories around them. He starts with a concept. Then, he positions the characters around it in such a way that requires them to evolve in ways that they’ve never dared. From there, the story only gets bigger in terms of scope, scale, and impact.

He did it with the Avengers. He did it with the Fantastic Four. Now, he’s done it again with the X-Men. As a lifelong X-Men fan, who has seen some pretty awful runs and some exceedingly dark times, I cannot overstate how refreshing this story is. I honestly cannot think of a time when an X-Men story arc felt so meaningful and relevant.

I’ve highlighted and praised various issues of House of X and Powers of X before, but “Powers of X #6” faces a unique challenge that many story arcs fail to overcome. It can’t just end the story on a particular note. It has to fill in some lingering plot holes while leaving just enough unfilled for future stories to build on. It’s a difficult balance to strike and one past X-Men story arcs have come up short.

That balance never falters in “Powers of X #6.” It fills in a few key plot holes, most notably the events of Moira MacTaggart’s mysterious sixth life. At the core of this story, and everything that stems from it, is the impact of Moira MacTaggart. It’s not hyperbole to state that she is now the most important character in the X-Men mythos.

Her role doesn’t just involve revealing what worked and didn’t work in terms of mutants trying to survive in a world that hates and fears them. In “Powers of X #6,” she witnesses the ultimate endgame for the human/mutant conflict. She sees the inevitable result of this conflict, regardless of which side she takes.

It doesn’t matter if someone sides with Magneto.

It doesn’t matter if someone sides with Professor Charles Xavier.

It doesn’t even matter if someone swears allegiance to Apocalypse and fights by his side.

The events in “Powers of X #6” establish that none of these conflicting groups, who have been clashing in X-Men comics since the Kennedy Administration, will be vindicated in the long run. Ultimately, they will be defeated, but not by the forces they think.

It’s a point that Hickman makes clearly by building on key moments established in past issues of Powers of X and House of X. Within these moments, harsh truths are dropped and fateful choices are made. They help give the achievements that played out in “House of X #6” even more weight. They also establish the stakes the X-men, and the entire mutant race in general, face moving forward.

These are powerful moments that impact the past, present, and future of the X-Men. Through Moira, the greatest threats facing mutants takes a very different form. It’s not a menacing new Sentinel. It’s not some mutant tyrant, either. It’s not even some bigoted human who thinks interment camps are still a good idea. I won’t spoil the particulars, but c makes clear that the X-Men have an uphill battle.

That’s saying a lot, considering the mutant race is more united than it has ever been. They have a home in Krakoa. Teammates who have been dead or missing for many years are back. They have valuable resources that the world wants. They’ve even won over their greatest enemies, like Apocalypse.

However, even with Moira’s foresight, that still might not be enough.

It might be the greatest achievement of “Powers of X #6.” It is an ending to a bold new beginning for the X-Men, but it also redefines the challenges they face. Through Hickman’s skilled world-building and artist R. B. Silva’s brilliant renderings, it genuinely feels like a true paradigm shift for X-Men comics.

They’re still mutants. They’re still the same superheroes they’ve always been. Their goals haven’t fundamentally changed that much. What has changed are the stakes, the forces opposing them, and their approach to dealing with them. It feels both hopeful and dire at the same time.

Whereas “House of X #6” establishes the promise of a brighter future for mutants, “Powers of X #6” reveals the ultimate barrier to that future. It’s not something they can shoot, blast, stab, or punch. If they want to succeed, then they have to fundamentally change how they go about Charles Xavier’s dream. Moreover, the dream itself needs to evolve.

Years from now, X-Men fans will likely look back on “Powers of X #6” as a defining moment for a narrative that has been unfolding for over 50 years. Those moments are few, far between, and precious. This one in particular may go down as one of the most uncanny.

Leave a comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic, X-men

Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: House of X #4

In life, there are usually a handful of moments when you can say that you’ve had your finest hour. Whether it’s winning a championship, finding the love of your life, or winning a buffalo wing eating contest, those moments are special. They reveal just how good and capable you can be. For the X-Men, “House of X #4” is that moment.

Writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Pepe Larraz have been redefining, revamping, and at times revolutionizing who the X-Men are and what they stand for. As a lifelong X-Men fan who will find any excuse to write about them, I could fill a pool with the tears of joy I’ve shed while reading this series. With “House of X #4,” however, those tears are mixed with a host of other feelings besides joy.

Since it began, House of X has put the X-Men and the entire mutant population in a bold new situation. They’re no longer hiding in fancy mansions, isolated islands, space stations, or hellish dimensions. Hickman has gone heavy on the world-building, turning the living island of Krakoa into a vast, expansive sanctuary for mutants. The results have been both functional and awe-inspiring.

However, building a new world for the mutants of the Marvel universe is just part of the story. Protecting their future and preventing their extinction at the hands of Nimrod and the Sentinels are a much larger part. That part of the story is what culminates in “House of X #4.”

It’s not overly elaborate. Hickman doesn’t try to reinvent the nuts and bolts of how the X-Men go about saving the day and their species. He simply raises the stakes while Larraz makes it a visual spectacle. It effectively builds on what was set up through the events of Powers of X and the many lives of Moira MacTaggart.

For once, the X-Men aren’t on the defensive. They’re not the ones caught off-guard by an army of Sentinels or some new mutant-killing menace. They know what’s coming. They know that Mother Mold will give rise to Nimrod and Nimrod will be the end of mutants, humans, and everything in between. Now, they’re in a position to stop it.

They don’t send the B-team for this mission, either. They throw the X-Men’s heaviest hitters with Cyclops, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Mystique, Arcangel, and Nightcrawler. They even add in some lesser-known, but still-effective names like Husk and Monet. Their mission is simple, but the logistics are not. It’s an opportunity for the X-Men to be at their best and they take full advantage of it.

The struggle is intense. The battle is dramatic. Larraz’s artwork is simply stunning every step of the way. There’s never a sense that this is a mission from which the X-Men will escape intact, unscarred, and completely triumphant. This isn’t a Saturday morning cartoon or a movie where the good guys have to win outright. This is a battle for the present and future of the X-Men. Battles like that will come at a cost.

There’s definitely a sense that this mission is a suicide mission. There’s no teasing this mission will require heavy sacrifices. That sort of thing has been par for the course with X-Men comics for years, now. After they killed Wolverine for a while, the death of any character become much more trivial.

Making anything count in any comic these days is a challenge. Fans who have been reading the books for more than a few years know that nobody stays dead, nothing remains stable, and Deadpool never shuts up. The key is giving the conflicts weight and substance. In that, Hickman definitely succeeds in “House of X #4.”

The previous issues help establish why the X-Men need to take down Mother Mold. They also establish what happens if they don’t. The past, present, and future are all at stake at the same time and for once, it’s not because someone is abusing a time machine. For any superhero comic, especially an X-Men comic, that’s nothing short of revolutionary.

It all comes down to this single mission. Cyclops takes lead. Wolverine does something incredibly badass. Nightcrawler is astonishingly charming. Jean Grey has a flare for the dramatics. Even Monet gets a chance to cut loose. It’s a dire sequence of events, but one that has depth and meaning.

If someone ever wants to show who the X-Men are and why they’ve resonated so much since the Kennedy Administration, they would be wise to cite “House of X #4.” It doesn’t just depict heroes saving the day. It shows what the X-Men are willing to fight for and sacrifice for the sake of their future.

It’s not just about defeating the villains and winning the day. There are many personal moments in this battle that show the strengths and bonds of each character. Some shine more than others, but they never stray far from what makes them great. The stakes are high, but the characters stay consistent.

At their core, the X-Men are mutants and mutants are human. They’re not these larger-than-life icons in the mold of Superman, Captain America, or Spider-Man. They’re real people who didn’t get their powers by choice or circumstance. They were born that way. They can’t escape who and what they are. They don’t want to, either. They want a future for their kind and those who hate them.

They fight for that future in “House of X #4.” They know what will happen if they lose. There’s no ambiguity in what they do or why they do it. This is just X-Men being the kinds of heroes they need to be when everything is at stake. The story isn’t over, so their finest hour may still be ahead of them. However, the astonishing events of “House of X #4” are going to be very hard to top.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic, X-men

Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: Powers of X #1

Lifelong comic book fans like myself wake up every Wednesday morning with a mix of excitement, anticipation, and dread. It’s a weekly event in which the worlds we love grow just a little bit bigger. However, not all New Comic Book Days are treated the same. Some are more memorable than others and I have a feeling that “Powers of X #1” will make this particular Wednesday feel special for X-Men fans.

The X-Men comics are in a major state of transition and upheaval. In the past, that has usually meant they’re facing yet another extinction event. Whether it’s Sentinels killing 16 million mutants or the Scarlet Witch going crazy, big change usually means the X-Men have to stave off another genocide.

Writer Jonathan Hickman is not taking that approach. As someone who has been reading X-Men comics for a good chunk of his life, I find it both overdue and refreshing. In “House of X #1,” he set out to build a bold new world for mutants. In “Powers of X #1,” he puts this world into a much greater context that will likely have X-Men fans talking for years to come.

This new vision for the X-Men isn’t just causing major upheavals in the present. It’s having an impact on the past and future, as well. Historically, this usually means that there’s yet another terrible dystopian future about to unfold and the X-Men already have way too many of those.

With Hickman, however, it’s not nearly as clear-cut and that’s exactly what makes “Powers of X #1” so engaging.

This isn’t just another case of some fateful decision in the past having dire consequences in the future. There’s no moment with Skynet or time traveling assassins. With “Powers of X #1,” the story unfolds across four distinct time periods. One takes place in the X-Men’s past. The other continues part of the story in the present that begins in “House of X #1.” The last two take place at multiple points in the future.

While much of the story unfolds in the future, there’s a never a sense that they’re too disconnected from the past or present. There are a host of new characters with familiar powers and appearances. Artist R. B. Silva is not subtle in who inspired the designs of these characters and that’s critical because a lot transpires in a short span of time.

We don’t get to know these characters very well, given their limited face time, but they do plenty to establish distinct personalities and motivations. We get a sense for what they’re after and what’s at stake. It’s not entirely dystopian in tone, but it is dire and not just for mutants.

Once again, Hickman goes heave on the world-building. In between Silva’s colorful depictions are little insights into how this future took shape. It’s not a simple as one fateful choice or one fateful death. It’s more a culmination of conflicts.

Mutants are on the brink, but it’s not because of a plague or a genocidal war. In this future, humans aren’t the enemy, but what they’ve become certainly is. They’re not just a bunch of fearful, mutant-hating zealots trying to product themselves with killer robots. They’ve actually become something more menacing.

The details aren’t all in place, but the hints are there. While mutants built on the foundation that Charles Xavier established, humanity went down a different path and it’s not one conducive to peace, love, puppies, and whiskey. Familiar faces like the Nimrod Sentinel make that abundantly clear, but it’s the new faces that add the most intrigue.

Nimrod and the other humans around it aren’t just human anymore. They’ve become part machine, as well. However, these aren’t Terminator knock-offs. They still have personalities. They even talk and converse like humans. They’re a whole new order of humans that Hickman identifies as the Man-Machine Supremacy. Given the events of “House of X #1,” it fits perfectly.

It also makes a twisted bit of sense in a not-so-dystopian way. In a world where mutants are suddenly organized, complete with a homeland and collective vision, humanity seems doomed to obsolesce. They’re only choice is to evolve in a new way so they have a chance at competing.

The story covers many concepts and raises many questions, but “Powers of X #1” works because there are just enough hints at the answers. It perfectly complements what “House of X #1” established with respect to setting, tone, and vision. Hickman creates a perspective that neither humans nor mutants want to go extinct. They both seek a bold vision for their future, but there’s only room for one in the future.

Every vision begins with a dream. Bold visions inspire bolder actions. This is the heart of what makes the X-Men who they are. It’s also the driving force behind the many conflicts they face. A book like “Powers of X #1” doesn’t attempt to subvert that conflict. It simply dares to evolve it in a new direction.

What this means for the X-Men comics moving forward remains to be seen, but it’s very likely that “Powers of X #1” will be one of those comics that gets cited for years to come as a major turning point. It affirms that while all New Comic Book Days are special in their own right, some will always be more special than others.

2 Comments

Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic

“Dark Phoenix” Review: An Astonishing End To An Uncanny Era

x-men-dark-phoenix-new-poster-1200-1777-81-s

It’s never easy, trying to capture the essence of an iconic story. It’s even harder when you’ve tried once before and failed miserably. To say that “Dark Phoenix” faced more challenges than most movies would be like saying tobacco companies have an image problem. Many of those challenges go beyond the story, the franchise, the studios, and even the movie industry, as a whole.

Despite so many confounding circumstances, the most important challenge of “Dark Phoenix” was always the same. After this iconic X-Men story was horribly botched in “X-Men The Last Stand,” this movie’s primary goal was to do that story justice. The director and long-time X-Men producer, Simon Kinberg, has gone on record as saying he failed in his first attempt. This movie gives him a chance to rectify that.

Before I get into the fiery details, which may include light spoilers, I’d like to offer my personal sentiment after having seen the movie. I understand that not everyone will agree with me, but as a long-time lover of X-Men, this movie means a lot more to me than most in the superhero genre so I like to think that sentiment is strong.

Yes, “Dark Phoenix” does justice to the X-Men’s most iconic story.

Yes, “Dark Phoenix” succeeds where “X-Men The Last Stand” failed.

Yes, “Dark Phoenix” is a satisfying conclusion to this era of X-Men that has spanned nearly two decades.

I realize that many might disagree with my assessment. That’s perfectly fine. Every movie impacts people in different ways. For me, though, “Dark Phoenix” struck all the necessary chords and then some. It focused on the core components of what makes the Phoenix Saga so endearing and runs with it.

That means that there aren’t multiple plots being juggled constantly. From the very first scene, the focus is on Jean Grey and her journey towards becoming Dark Phoenix. It’s a journey that has a foundation in tragedy, lies, love, betrayal, and loss. What happens to her is never just a matter of circumstance. There are tough, meaningful decisions made before, during, and after the darkness consumes Jean.

At every turn, there is plenty of drama. Jean Grey isn’t just some obscure side-character. She’s surrounded by people who love her. Charles Xavier loves her like a surrogate daughter. Mystique loves her like a sister. To Cyclops, she’s the woman he loves and for once, there’s no terrible love triangle that detracts from that love.

That love gives the drama incredible weight, which is critical for any story derived from the Phoenix Saga. It also ensures the losses leave a major impact and, as one of the trailers revealed, those losses are pretty devastating. They’re not just glossed over or forgotten, which was a huge issue with “X-Men The Last Stand.” They resonate throughout the story and inform the decisions of multiple characters.

That’s not to say every aspect is caught up in personal dramas. “Dark Phoenix” still utilizes a villain to maintain some basic superhero dynamics. That villain, played by Jessica Chastain, isn’t as iconic as Magneto or Apocalypse. She and her villainous henchmen are aliens known as the D’Brai, who actually play a critical role in the original story from the comics.

While Chastain is no Thanos, she and her fellow D’Brai have clear, understandable motivations. They’re not just there to cause more suffering and upheaval. They sense the power in Jean and they want to use it to serve their agenda. That’s perfectly consistent with what Jean and the X-men faced in those same comics.

It also firmly establishes that the Phoenix Force in “Dark Phoenix” is not at all like the one on display in “X-Men The Last Stand.” The Phoenix isn’t some split personality within Jean. This movie actually embraces the more cosmic aspects of that story. While it only does so to a point, it helps raise the stakes in a way that goes beyond trying to save or kill Jean Grey.

Even with these cosmic elements, however, “Dark Phoenix” never loses its focus on Jean, her struggles, and the X-Men’s efforts to save her. The pace of the movie rarely slows down. Things happen quickly and concisely. There are still plenty of intimate character moments along the way, but they never drag. The plot keeps unfolding until the very end.

I won’t spoil too many of the details, but I will say that the ending is far less dire and depressing than what unfolded in “X-Men The Last Stand.” Jean isn’t a coward this time around. She doesn’t constantly whine or beg others to kill her before it’s too late. She is the one who ultimately decides her fate. More importantly, she is the one who makes those difficult choices.

Making all this drama and action work wouldn’t be possible without Sophie Turner turning in a truly uncanny performance as Jean Grey. She goes through many emotions over the course of the story. There are scenes in which she goes through more in five minutes than Famke Janssen did in the first three X-Men movies combined. She carries herself wonderfully through the movie’s most intense moments.

The collective efforts of James McAvoy as Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, Tye Sherridan as Cyclops, and Nicholas Hoult as Beast perfectly complement Turner every step of the way. They capture those essential elements of family and team that’s so critical for every X-Men movie. This being their last ride with these characters, they make the most of the opportunity.

Unfortunately, some characters don’t get as many chances. Alexandra Shipp’s Storm and Evan Peters’ Quicksilver have fairly limited roles, although Shipp turns in a powerful performance in the final battle. Chastain’s alien character, and the D’brai in general, only gets so much refinement. However, that doesn’t make “Dark Phoenix” any less effective because it is, at its core, a story about Jean Grey.

There are other flaws in the movie. To some extent, the constant focus on Jean and the rapid pace of the action prevent other characters or side-plots from getting much emphasis. The long-running romantic sub-plot between Beast and Mystique had some moments, but not nearly enough to maximize the impact of the story.

There are also times when the visuals of “Dark Phoenix” aren’t as colorful as they could’ve been. To some extent, that’s more a reflection on the overall style of the X-Men movies, going back to the first one in 2000. These movies have never focused too much on the flashy costumes that are so prominent in the comics. Considering the iconic styles teased at the end of “X-men Apocalypse,” it’s somewhat disappointing.

This movie might have been able to get away with that 10 years ago, but the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its embracement of iconic superhero attire make the overall style of the movie seem uninspiring. For most of the movie, nobody even wears a uniform or costume. While a movie like “Logan” can pull that off, it doesn’t work nearly as well in “Dark Phoenix.”

There are some moments where the visual effects really shine, but not in the ones that would’ve really complemented Jean Grey’s journey. While that fiery halo does show up at one point, it feels like it doesn’t show up enough and wasn’t quite as radiant as its brief appearance in “X-men Apocalypse.”

The finer details of the story aren’t flawless either. While they remain concise until the end, there’s a bit of ambiguity in terms of how the events in this movie tie to the epilogue in “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” There’s certainly enough to imply that this movie does not completely undermine that ending, but a lack of specifics leaves a lot of gaps for the audience to fill in.

Even with these shortcomings, the most important components of “Dark Phoenix” still work. It seeks to tell a focused Phoenix story for Jean Grey and it never loses sight of that goal. The acting, the drama, and a brilliant musical score by Hans Zimmer simply add more gravitas to the mix.

Over two years ago, I wrote an article that laid out how the “Dark Phoenix” could succeed in this golden age of superhero movies. Pretty much everything on that list came to pass. This movie embraced the passion surrounding this iconic story. It made use of the Cyclops/Jean romance, kept the Phoenix as the primary plot, and ensured every dramatic moment felt genuine. It didn’t check every box, but it came pretty damn close.

Does that mean that “Dark Phoenix” is among the greatest superhero movies ever made? No, I wouldn’t make that case, especially when it came out the same year as “Avengers Endgame.” The bar for superhero movies is higher than it has ever been before and it’s a difficult standard to apply to a movie like “Dark Phoenix.”

Does that mean that “Dark Phoenix” is the greatest X-Men movie ever made? No, I wouldn’t make that case, either. There are other X-Men movies that rank above this one in terms, but it still captures the most important elements that makes these movies so endearing.

Is it a great movie in general? Yes, I certainly would say it is. If I had to score this movie, I would give it an 8 out of 10. It sets out to do a fitting adaptation of the Phoenix Saga and it succeeds, utilizing all the necessary drama and action along the way. It also caps off 19 years of X-Men movies.

Now, as the X-Men stand poised to enter the MCU, this part of their journey can end and “Dark Phoenix” ended it on a truly uncanny note.

6 Comments

Filed under Movie Reviews, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies, X-men