Spoilers to follow.
Dark Phoenix serves as the finale for Fox’s X-Men saga and, for the most part, it doesn’t finish the mutants’ stories as much as promise a new beginning. Beast takes over as the principal of Xavier’s school (renamed the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning), while the now-retired Professor X himself is last seen outside a cafe in Paris with his old friend Magneto.
Anyone well-versed in their superhero cinema will have a sense of deja vu about this ending. It, of course, recalls the similar coda to DC’s The Dark Knight Rises, in which Alfred discovers Bruce Wayne enjoying his retirement with Selina Kyle…outside a cafe in Italy (close enough).
io9 caught up with writer/director Simon Kinberg and asked him if this was a deliberate homage to Christopher Nolan’s 2012 closer to his Batman trilogy. As per his comments prior to the movie’s release, the filmmaker confirmed that the Dark Knight trilogy was indeed a huge influence on his vision for Dark Phoenix.
“Obviously there are the supernatural, fantastical elements from the source material and it was important to me that we included the cosmic intergalactic storyline from the comics because we hadn’t seen any of that in X-Men films yet. The superhero movies that were most inspiring to me were like Logan and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.”
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What appeals most to Kinberg about Nolan’s work is the emphasis on the characters beneath the costumes. This approach is something he wanted to bring to the X-Men franchise, too, with the director saying:
“Ironically, the first half of Batman Begins is my favorite chunk of the Dark Knight movies. Obviously, they’re all masterpieces, but the first half of Batman Begins before he becomes Batman, I just found so relatable because he’s just a guy. He doesn’t have his suit or an alter ego. He’s not off fighting crime. I approached Dark Phoenix with those films in mind, and wanted to emphasize the character drama. The movie needed to be more raw and intimate and personal than we’d done with the franchise before.”
Unfortunately, being inspired by critically-acclaimed movies like Logan and The Dark Knight didn’t mean that Dark Phoenix shared their success. The film’s been the victim of harsh reviews which have brought its Rotten Tomatoes score to the lowest the X-Men movies have ever been. It’s hard to say how big a factor this was, but the negative reception likely contributed to DP‘s disappointing opening weekend at the box office as well, as it’s expected to lose over $100 million for Fox.