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Dark Phoenix Director Compares Film's Original Ending To Two Big Marvel Movies

Contains spoilers for Dark Phoenix

Would Dark Phoenix's original ending have made the film brighter?

The second silver-screen stab at adapting one of the most beloved X-Men comic storylines of all time, Dark Phoenix faltered with fans and critics alike when it opened in theaters this week. A common gripe amongst viewers was the patched-together feel of the film's story, which culminated in an ending that countless people argued was emotionally unsatisfying

Many may have felt differently if writer-director Simon Kinberg stuck with the conclusion he originally had in place for Dark Phoenix — which was similar in tone to two major Marvel movies. 

Speaking with io9, Kinberg compared the intended ending for Dark Phoenix to Captain America: Civil War and Captain Marvel. The original Dark Phoenix conclusion was apparently so similar to Civil War in particular that the film's cast and crew had to go back to square one and carry out exhaustive reshoots to create a new ending.

Kinberg explained that he initially wrote the group of mutants, led by Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), being split apart rather than coming back together as they do in the theatrical version of the film. This parallels how Captain America: Civil War wrapped up: with tension still lingering in the air and intra-group fights remaining unresolved. It makes sense that Kinberg would draw inspiration (consciously or otherwise) from Civil War: the Marvel superhero movie saw the Avengers fracture into opposing teams and battle against one another, and Dark Phoenix follows Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) as she metamorphoses into the Dark Phoenix and turns against her mutant family, becoming their greatest enemy. 

"My original ending didn't have the entire X-Family together the way they are in the film now. More than Captain Marvel, you could see a lot of Civil War in that ending," said Kinberg. "Usually, these big, huge action movies have the climactic moment in the third act. I loved the way that Civil War had its big action set piece where everyone's facing off more towards the end of the second act rather than in the third, so that after that huge battle, you're left with Winter Soldier, Captain America, and Iron Man."

He continued, underscoring the emotional heft behind the pre-reshoots ending. Kinberg also detailed that the Dark Phoenix overhaul took place before Captain Marvel released in theaters; only then did he realize his original ending would have looked similar to that of the Brie Larson-led standalone, which featured Carol Danvers tapping into the full capacity of her powers while in outer space. 

"[Captain America: Civil War is] this telescoped down view of their raw emotions, and I loved how intimate that was. That's what I was going for with Dark Phoenix's ending even though it then might have looked like Captain Marvel for about two minutes," Kinberg shared. 

We can see why Kinberg rewrote and reshot Dark Phoenix because of the similarities between its original ending and that of Captain America: Civil War. Leaving the X-Family broken apart may have offered a stronger, more dramatic payoff for fans — thus potentially improving the reception of Dark Phoenix altogether — but there's a big consequence that comes with taking such a risk. 

After the Walt Disney Company, which owns Marvel Studios, acquired 20th Century Fox and the film rights to the X-Men franchise, the movie series as it has been produced by Fox was effectively shut down. The Fox-backed films end with Dark Phoenix, and there's no telling when or how Marvel might introduce the mutant gang into its own cinematic universe. 

Had Kinberg stuck with the Civil War-esque ending for Dark Phoenix, it could have left audiences emotionally moved... but it would have also ended Fox's X-Men franchise on an inconclusive note. Dark Phoenix isn't perfect — many have made that explicitly clear — but we'd argue that fans would probably rather see the ending that they did than have to wait what could be years to find out what happens with the X-Family when Marvel inevitably decides to reboot the franchise.