Is “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” in Trouble?

Matthew Loffhagen
Fox
(Photo: Fox)

So, uh, is “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” actually going to get released?

Fans have been speculating wildly about the fate of the next ensemble movie in the longest running current comic book cinematic universe.

Earlier this year, “Dark Phoenix” was delayed. Instead of releasing this year, it’ll be coming in 2019. It joins “New Mutants”, a film which we’ve already seen a trailer for, but which has also been pushed back until next year.

Now, Fox has removed “Dark Phoenix” from its website entirely, and fans have been quick to overreact.

In fairness, overreacting is kind of our whole deal as fans. Plus, Fox has been deliberately building up hype for this movie, so when they suddenly stop the train, people want to know why.

It’s seemed for a while that something’s not quite right with the newest installment in the “X-Men” franchise. Ever since “X-Men: Apocalypse” turned out to be, shall we say, less than phenomenal, people have been suspicious about another movie in the series.

The End of an Era?

I do genuinely suspect we’re witnessing the death throws of a once powerful saga. Perhaps the movie franchise really can’t survive without Hugh Jackman.

This feels especially likely considering that Fox is almost certainly now going to be sold off to Disney in the near future. In a world where the X-Men can be folded into the MCU, there’s no real need for a standalone cinematic universe.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there were an attitude of apathy at Fox at the moment. Where previously, every effort was made to get these movies out in a timely fashion, now they’re worth more as lucrative bargaining chips than actual products.

Jessica Chastain Dark Phoenix
Source: Fox

By delaying “Dark Phoenix”, Fox can essentially offer Disney a free movie, all nicely gift-wrapped. It has the potential to make hundreds of millions of dollars, and even though it probably won’t perform fantastically, it’s better than the projected DVD sales if the film has already been released.

It also means that longtime “X-Men” producer and “Dark Phoenix” director Simon Kinberg can keep himself employed under the new management – if the film isn’t complete yet, Disney will have to give him a job so that he can finish it.

It’s possible that I’m overthinking things, but I’ll bet these thoughts have at some point occurred to Kinberg.

What Happens Next?

So will Disney actually put the movie out once they’ve got control of the company?

Maybe. They probably will, as it’s money sitting on the table that’s waiting for them.

Or, alternatively, perhaps “Dark Phoenix” really will make it to theaters before the Disney merger takes place.

Dark Phoenix
Source: Fox

Certainly, though, I expect we’ll see a winding down of Fox’s output in anticipation of the buyout. It’ll be like the last week of school before the summer vacation. Everyone’s just killing time, and not doing any real work, because we all know that we’re so very, very close to none of this mattering anyway.

What a depressing end to the once mighty “X-Men” movie series.

I can only hope that “Dark Phoenix” is actually a solid movie, so that the franchise can end with some pizazz.

Otherwise we’re looking at a slow descent into obscurity, and an MCU character reboot in five years’ time.