Saga adaptation brings fire to screen from classic comic book series

Panel 2 Scene
By Jenson Slauenwhite
Citizen Chronicle Entertainment Writer

X-Men Dark Phoenix is the newest X-Men movie and the last that will be produced by 20th Century Fox. This film is based on the origin of the X-Men character Phoenix, and then skips right to The Dark Phoenix saga.

You might be thinking “Didn’t we already have a Dark Phoenix film?” Well, you’re correct. In 2006 we recieved X-Men The Last Stand, which was an adaptation of this comic book story arc. The newest film is sort of like a retelling of this crazy story. Like every adaptation, however, there are some changes and these two films changed so much.

Starting with the comic, in October of 1971, the Phoenix was born. The issue was Uncanny X-Man #101 when the X-Men were escaping a Sentinel space station that was orbiting Earth. While escaping, they traversed through a radiation storm. Jean Grey, a powerful member of the X-Men, volunteered as pilot for their shuttle. Unfortunately, the cockpit was the only part of the shuttle that wasn’t properly shielded for radiation. Talk about poor design. Jean’s powers were also unable to shield her from the radiation. Luckily, or unluckily for future Jean, the Phoenix Force and Jean become one person. What’s the Phoenix Force? Well it’s a cosmic entity (magic space ghost) of infinite power. She then crashed landed the shuttle into Jamaica Bay while the Phoenix Force created a cocoon around her. After a short time period, she arouse out of the water as Phoenix.

In the comic universe, specifically Uncanny X-Men #108, she used her endless power to save the entire universe from destruction. When it comes to the film universe, we still haven’t see Phoenix in a film yet. Phoenix eventually evolves into Dark Phoenix, which we see in this latest X-Men film. The storyline first appears in the comics with Uncanny X-Men issue #129. When the mutant Mastermind, whose superpower is illusion, wants to move up into the ranks in the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club (a club that wants to rule the world), he uses both his powers and those of mutant telepath Emma Frost to control Phoenix’s mind. When doing so, it broke the mind boundaries that X-Men leader Professor Xavier set for Jean’s mind so she could control her power. Mastermind did a weird thing with Jean’s mind as well — he made her filled with lust in mind illusions. After she found out about this, she became enraged. So essentially, he made her become everything opposite of what the Phoenix was. She was joy, love, and happiness, but he made her feel hate, endless lust, and anger. The Phoenix Force basically just took control of Jeans body and actions, becoming Dark Phoenix.

After her dark transformation, she traveled across the galaxy and destroyed a sun and an alien species that had been orbiting it — just because she could — and traveled right back to Earth as if nothing happened. Professor Xavier was fortunate enough to rebuild the barrier he set, and transformed the Dark Phoenix all the way back to Jean Grey or Marvel Girl (her X-Men name), nearly costing him his life in the process. Soon after, the X-Men were beamed up to the Imperial Center, or Space Government spaceship, to answer for the obliteration of a sun. The Space Government wants Jean to be executed for the crime, though she had no control in committing the act. The X-Men challenge the Space Government to a trial by combat. Each member of the X-Men had to fight a member chosen by the Space Government. Ultimately, the X-Men had failed and Jean became the Phoenix again. This causes the X-Men once again to fight her, ultimately forcing them to have to kill their friend. None of the X-Men are able to defeat her and she ultimately took her own life.

Uncanny X-Men #101

What 2003’s X2 X-Men United and  2006’s X-Men The Last Stand did in adapting this story to film is in no comparison. The process in which Jean becomes the Dark Phoenix is vastly different. There is an oncoming flood that would cause everyone to drown and die. The Blackbird (the X-Men jet) is stuck in a ditch in the floods path. Jean decides to sacrifice herself so the team will live by going in between the flood and the Blackbird. She uses her telepathic powers to stop the water with one hand and uses the other to move the Blackbird. Members of the X-Men attempt to leave the Blackbird or have the teleporting mutant Nightcrawler teleport to Jean and bring her aboard. She prevents him from doing that by using her telepathic powers. The team makes it out alive but Jean is presumed dead. She returns in X-Men: The Last Stand as Dark Phoenix. It turns out when she used her powers to such a great extent at one time that it broke her mind barriers. She becomes enraged at Professor Xavier for giving her the mind barriers and becomes the Dark Phoenix. Right after becoming the Dark Phoenix she calls Cyclops, her boyfriend, to er location. When he arrives she kills him for some reason. It’s never explained why she did this. I know, it makes no sense.

In the comic, Dark Phoenix can’t hurt the ones Jean loves because Jean won’t allow it. Something that I like better in the cinematic version is that Wolverine kills her. In the comic, Wolverine doesn’t do this because he loves Jean, and refuses to kill her even when faced with the opportunity. In this film adaptation, Wolverine doesn’t kill Jean the first time but eventually does what is necessary. There’s also some great aftermath that was shown in the 2013 film The Wolverine on how he copes with the loss. I also like the love triangle that was shown between Cyclops, Wolverine, and Jean.

So how does X-Men Dark Phoenix compare to these two versions? It is far from better. Actually, after watching this film I rewatched the end of X2 and all of Last Stand, and it makes me appreciate those films more. The only thing the newest one got right was that there’s an actual Phoenix Force and it attaches itself to Jean.

Now that Marvel once again has the cinematic rights to the X-Men, I am hoping that we won’t see another rushed Dark Phoenix Saga story.

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