The X-Men movies are best known for two things: Hugh Jackman (who ended his run with this year's Logan) and wild fluctuations in quality. From triumphs such as X2, FIRST CLASS, DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and DEADPOOL to disappointments like The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the mutant films have been anything but consistent.
And 2016's X-MEN: APOCALYPSE definitely fell into the latter category.
Despite bringing the long-awaited titular villain to the screen, played by Oscar Isaac, Apocalypse felt like a halfhearted greatest hits reel, only scoring 48 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Now writer Simon Kinberg, who is directing next year's X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX, has admitted that it missed the mark, telling Entertainment Weekly:
“I think we took our eye off what has always been the bedrock of the franchise which is these characters. It became about global destruction and visual effects over emotion and character.”
Producer Hutch Parker expanded on those comments, explaining that the superhero genre had matured in ways that Apocalypse — which some fans compared to an episode of the 1990s X-Men animated series — failed to reflect:
“Certainly, in hindsight, we all feel like the genre has been evolving aesthetically and tonally and that the film didn’t. There’s a lot that I think is very good in the film but, as a whole, it was struggling to find ways to coalesce, narratively emotionally and in terms of plot. Aesthetically, it felt sort of dated relative to an evolution you were seeing play out everywhere else. We learned a lot from that.”
The good news is that Kinberg is putting more focus on character work in Dark Phoenix, which is why LOGAN succeeded even without any fate-of-the-world stakes:
”One of the things I went into this film wanting to do is obviously focus on the characters and give them real emotions to play and come up with a theme that would make it feel relevant and necessary in today’s world.”
The one-two punch of LOGAN and DEADPOOL proved that Fox can get this franchise right. Plus, fans are excited to see how DARK PHOENEX differs from THE LAST STAND, the studio's first attempt to adapt the classic Dark Phoenix Saga comic book arc. But hey, if it's not an improvement, then Disney can just reboot the whole thing soon, right?