Fox’s X-Men series ended with a whimper with X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Visually stunning yet strangely disjointed (with one of the weirdest MCU jokes in movie history – potentially?) Dark Phoenix didn’t earn any goodwill from the die hard fans and left most audiences confused – and ready for the MCU to take over Fox’s mutants. That said, the MCU shouldn’t leave some of the original superhero films behind. A total reboot may erase the bad taste of films that have never lived up to their full potential, but they paved the way for superhero films from both the big two, as well as the smaller houses.
The people behind the X-Men films were pioneers and despite being racked by scandal, horror, and reboots, they deserve a mention. That mention should be the phoenix force. Rather than a reboot, it’s time to leave Jean behind (in a way) and move forward with newer X-Men. Let’s take a look at just how the Phoenix Force could blaze a trail into the future, an homage to the films of the past leading to a brighter future.
What is the Phoenix Force?
According to Marvel, the Phoenix Force is a manifestation of life, passion, and energy. Described as “the embodiment of the very passion of Creation—the spark that gave life to the Universe, the flame that will ultimately consume it.” – the Phoenix is a force of incredible power that seemingly can destroy the universe, alter reality, and motivate an entire franchise of movies. Adapting the Phoenix Force to the big screen has been the goal of writers and fans of the X-Men since they adapted the X-Men movies. It’s a powerful representation of passion and the loss of control.
There are other cosmically powered characters in the MCU already, but the concept of a Captain Marvel vs Phoenix battle can’t be overstated. The character has hundreds of connections to different Marvel characters. Two characters battling would create incredible visuals – the only question is how to bring it into the MCU from the X-Men films. To do that we need a few people, namely, the Summers Family.
The Tragedy of the Summers Family
Comics as a medium is full of legacy characters, destructive families, and people who are “destined” for power. One of the most iconic families? The Summers Clan. Jean Grey and Scott Summers’s love affair has spanned across realities. The two of them have been sent back in time by ancient witch clans, met their own ancestors, and are tied to some of the biggest heroes and villains of the Marvel comic universe. From Scott’s brothers to Jean’s children, you can’t tell an X-Men story without them unfortunately.
Their antics have dominated the majority of X-Men storytelling, with mixed results. Fans are probably tired of Jean Grey’s struggle with the Phoenix at this point, but that doesn’t mean it should be neglected. How to do it? The MCU already has the answer. Use the X-Force and Nathaniel Summers – also known as Cable – to carry the Summers legacy into the MCU.
X-Force Works: What Can We Save?
There have been multiple sources claiming that Fox will recast all of the X-Men except Deadpool. The X-Men doesn’t include X-Force however, and out of all the mutant movies, Deadpool and Deadpool 2 have been some of the best. Josh Brolin’s turn as Cable Zazie Beetz turn as Domino, and even Yukio and Negasonic Teenage Warhead all deserve to jump into the MCU. Their characters have caused less scrutiny and, bolstered by Ryan Reynolds’s embodiment of Deadpool, could easily jump to the MCU.
The seeds to continue the X-Men stories are also seeded within these characters. Yukio and Negasonic Teenage Warhead aren’t technically X-Men (yet). Zazie Beetz is just a mutant along with Deadpool, and Brolin’s Cable has the blessing of both Rob Liefield and the added advantage of being dead as Thanos.
Cable has a very long history in the MCU that includes time travel, alternate realities, and different dimensions. To return to the Phoenix Saga, and to tie the story together, Cable should stick around and his backstory of clones, alternate realities, weird mutant diseases, and more should be tied into the MCU at large. Thanks to him, a lot of “where” the mutants have been could easily be explained. That said, Cable has never hosted the Phoenix Force. Who could take up the iconic cosmic entity into the MCU going forward?
Jean Grey may not have gotten her due, but she could still live on in her ancestor/alternate reality daughter Rachel-Anne Summers, one of the Summers family. Hailing from an alternate reality (who could easily be connected to the MCU proper) Rachel Summers has hosted the phoenix force and has similar abilities to Jean – coming from an alternate reality Jean Grey and Scott Summers.
Let’s face facts. The Jean Grey as Dark Phoenix story has been done twice, and neither one has hit the mark. Perhaps it’s time for a retelling of the story with Rachel. Since the Phoenix Force is basically a deus ex machina, a storytelling device, it’s possible that the phoenix force could pass through dimensions.
For fans of the series who didn’t like the direction that it took, rather than involving Professor X or Magneto directly, perhaps the Phoenix Force could connect the previous X-Men movies to the MCU by passing into this new dimension and taking up a new host in Rachel Summers. It doesn’t have the emotional punch of the Phoenix Saga, but Rachel could tie into what works (X-Force) and host the cosmic power. Introducing her as a younger character could also give her an opportunity to be mentored by both Cable and Captain Marvel herself. The sky’s the limit storytelling wise if we give the Phoenix Force the fresh start it deserves.
With Dark Phoenix, Disney officially owns the X-Men. It remains to be seen just what stories they will want to tell. The adventures of the Summers clan shouldn’t be forgotten despite attempts to tell their stories. Rather they should be given a fresh start that honors the old material in a unique way. Give fans another person besides Jean to connect people to and use the Phoenix Force as what it should be used as – a cosmic force that can brave new worlds, a writing device that fans have come to love, and a source of cosmic empowerment for fans everywhere.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix is in theaters.