Dark Phoenix (2019): ‘The X-Men Female’ – A Film Review



Much like the Spider-Man and Star Trek series, the X-Men series has its own complicated history of reboots, timelines and spin offs. All with varying popularity and that feeling of struggling to keep the series alive but being interested enough to try anyway. The most recent timeline/reboot has an arc of four films finishing with Dark Phoenix. Whilst we’ve recently seen DC and Marvel turn out their all-powerful female super heroes (but not necessarily empowering superheroes) with Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, there is a sense in which Dark Phoenix is doing something similar.


The Strong Female Character

As a female empowering film, Dark Phoenix is perhaps the least on the nose about it. There are certainly some lines of dialogue and some scenes that miss this point. Particularly cringe worthy is an exchange about the team’s name. Whilst the internal conflict, wonderfully performed by Sophie Turner, actually gives a good exploration of control and the seductive sides of power. That being said, making a character near indestructible isn’t synonymous with strong characterisation and reinforcing this troupe isn’t actually helping the development of female characters. The moments that do work more favourably here than in other films, include the internal conflicts and strength of conviction – though a lot of this is reduced to a rather unfortunate theme of emotions. It’s all rather basic and simplified for the spectacle, whilst it manages better than others it’s still not there.


From a Technical Perspective

The overall look of the film shows off some amazing moments of mutant powers and holds some riveting fight scenes and struggles – especially with the side-line characters. The appearance of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) )as Dark Phoenix shows some imaginative and complex use of make-up and CGI to achieve an otherworldly power breaking from within. Unfortunately, though paced well and with some great excitement, the fight scenes are inconsistent. Some work amazingly, whilst others have a paint by numbers sequencing of their superpowers: Storm (Alexandra Shipp) strikes, then Quicksilver (Evan Peters) runs, then Beast (Nicholas Hoult) jumps. It almost halts the action to focus on a character, rather than to reflect how they’d all act in the circumstances.



All in all, the star cast put in a wonderful performance, whilst the look of Dark Phoenix is almost faultless. The main problems come from overthinking it and processing the themes of the day. Whether this is because they actually want to comment and develop these themes or whether they are treating them as ‘of the time’. This makes for a satisfying watch, but it isn’t all that important. Lost to the sea of other big films dealing with exactly the same things and, also, messing it up.



Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) on an away mission encounters something that enhances her powers but also causes her to lose control. Whilst an invading alien species is interested in what she’s picked up.




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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

Captain Marvel (d. Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck USA 2019)

Dark Phoenix (d. Simon Kinberg USA 2019)

Wonder Woman (d. Patty Jenkins USA/China/Hong Kong 2017)


Further Reading



Official Site

Interview with the Cast

Interview with Simon Kinberg

Interview with Sophie Tuner & Jessica Chastain

Behind the Scenes

Easter Eggs


X-Men Recap

Dark Phoenix Powers

X-Women Clip


If you liked this

Captain Marvel (2019): ‘Her Marvel’ – A Film Review

Wonder Woman (2017) – A Film Review

X-Men: Apocalypse(2016) – A Film Review

Alita: Battle Angel (2019): ‘The Heart of a Good Heroine’ – A Film Review


This was an analytical review of….


Dark Phoenix (d. Simon Kinberg USA 2019)

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