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Dark Phoenix: Villains were originally Skrulls

If you weren't blown away by the D'Bari, the villainous alien race in Dark Phoenix, there may be a reason for that.

According to actor Tye Sheridan, who plays Cyclops in the film, writer/director Simon Kinberg had originally planned to feature the shape-shifting aliens known as the Skrulls as the flick's antagonists. (via Collider)

Tye made the remarks in throwaway fashion while speaking of the movie's third act difficulties (which are swiftly becoming the stuff of legend) during a chat with the ReelBlend podcast. While it's well-known that the climactic act of Dark Phoenix was completely re-shot late in its production, Sheridan's comments shed light on just how different the ending was intended to be, and also placed one of the film's most frustrating elements into intriguing context.

"It's really hard for me to remember what the ending of this movie is," the actor said. "Originally, it was scripted that Charles and Scott go to the U.N., because — man, I'm totally going to mess this up — they go to the U.N. because they're going to try to tell the President that, 'Hey, we're under attack by aliens, and they've now captured Jean Grey.' Or, you know, whatever it is that we're going to tell him."

"And then," he continued, "Jean comes down in the front of the U.N., and causes… there is this huge battle between the guards at the U.N. and Jean Grey, and all the guards turn out to be Skrulls. And then, Jean and Scott are — Scott is fighting Skrulls in the fountain. He gets thrown into the fountain in front of the U.N. And then Jean comes down and basically fights all of the Skrulls off, and then blasts back off into space. [She] basically says goodbye to Scott and Charles. And then it's all over, I guess."

Sheridan may not have meant to give the Fox X-Men franchise its epitaph with that final sentence, but here we are. That Dark Phoenix's villains were so underwhelming makes a lot more sense in light of his remarks, especially considering that in the source material, the D'Bari played a minor role at best. (They also looked a lot different; they're alternatively known as the "Asparagus People," and the description fits.) They were simply the peaceful inhabitants of a planet consumed by the Dark Phoenix, with no special abilities or powers — let alone the shape-shifting exhibited by their cinematic counterparts, a trait obviously ported over from the Skrulls.

Many reviewers also found the D'Bari's motivations to be exceptionally muddled, and their powers oddly flexible in accordance with the needs of the plot. It's almost as if Kinberg had no clear idea of who his antagonists were — which he likely didn't, given that they were late-game substitutes.

It's pretty obvious what happened here: Kinberg was beaten to the punch by Captain Marvel (which featured the Skrulls as a primary component of its story), necessitating a rewrite. Imagine Kinberg's frustration when it turned out that that rewrite, which he actually took the trouble to shoot, was also beaten to the punch by Captain Marvel. As we've previously reported, Dark Phoenix's filmmaking team determined that a complete redo of its third act was in order when it was found to contain too many similar beats to the climax of the billion-plus-dollar grossing MCU effort. 

Unfortunately, the final result of all the tinkering was a final entry into a venerable (if somewhat hit-and-miss) franchise that left critics fuming and fans unsatisfied. Now that Disney controls the film and television assets of Fox, the rebooting of the X-Men into the MCU is inevitable — but if Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige is to be believed, and we're pretty sure he is, they're going to have a long wait. 

At least X-Fans can be all but assured that when that wait is finally over, Mighty Marvel will breathe amazing new life into their beloved characters. At the very least, they can take solace in the fact that Kinberg is off the case; if he weren't, he'd probably be accidentally coming up with the entire plot of Black Panther 2 right now.