Last week, 20th Century Fox dropped the first trailer for Dark Phoenix, the latest installment in the long-running X-Men franchise. What you may not have noticed is that the film’s official title doesn’t actually contain “X-Men” anywhere – it’s just Dark Phoenix. As it turns out, this was a very deliberate decision meant to emphasize the central role Jean Grey plays in the film’s story.
Speaking to Collider (via Comicbook), Dark Phoenix director Simon Kinberg explained his reasoning behind ditching the X-Men moniker, noting that it signals that the film is taking a different approach to retelling “The Dark Phoenix Saga” than the previous attempt in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand.
Also, it worked for Logan so …
“I wanted to call it Dark Phoenix in again very much the way we wanted to call Logan ‘Logan’ as opposed to ‘X-Men: Logan’ to indicate that it’s a different kind of film and to indicate that it’s a more character-driven movie,” Kinberg said. “And for me, and Hutch [Parker], as people who worked on X-Men III: The Last Stand, that didn’t have any trace of Dark Phoenix in the title, we really wanted to indicate that this is the Dark Phoenix story and that she’s at the center of this story, she’s the A-plot of this story, everything around this story revolves really centrally around Jean/Dark Phoenix as really the subject of the movie, not the object of the movie.”
This isn’t the first time Kinberg has referenced Logan as an inspiration, as previously told Empire that James Mangold’s critically-acclaimed film challenged him to make a “edgier, more real” X-Men film.
“The way I wanted to make the movie was very different than the aesthetic of previous X-Men movies, which I’ve been very involved in and proud of,” Kinberg said. “But I wanted it to feel more naturalistic, I wanted it to feel edgier, more handmade, more real. I was very inspired by what James Mangold did with Logan, and I felt like if I could bring a measure of that aesthetic in the film that all of the intergalactic and larger-scale things that happen in the movie would feel more shocking, more realistic, more emotional. They’d be grounded in some reality.
“And so, all of the movie – from the costumes, to the title card, to the set design, to the way the X-jet looks – all of that stuff is just more analogue in a way,” Kinberg said. “More like, let’s say, the original Star Wars movies. Not that analogue, but the movies I grew up loving had this very gritty, edgy, cool, human feeling to them.”
Changing a title is one thing, but Dark Phoenix has a lot to prove to fans who were previously burned by X-Men: The Last Stand’s botched attempt at telling the classic comic book story arc. We’ll see if Kinberg’s film can pull it off when
X-Men: Dark Phoenix hits theaters on June 7, 2019.
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