We are met with the young Jean Grey when she is introduced with Professor Xavier. After a traumatic experience concerning her mutant powers, Xavier decides to psychologically shield Jean from a truth. This incident drives the drama in this plot. Xavier gives Jean an important lesson about inanimate objects, and how they are instruments that can be good or bad depending on how someone uses them. The framing of each character in underestimated.
The power dynamic exaggerates between Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) and Xavier (James McAvoy) after a mission to retrieve astronauts from a damaged shuttle. Jean (Sophie Turner) becomes “symbiotically” fused with the Phoenix energy during the mission. Raven confronts Xavier asserting that “the women” of the X-Men seem to be doing all the risk-taking. It feels like a forced moment the writers created.
As Jean’s experience with the Phoenix intensifies, it turns out that both Raven and Xavier are wrong in handling the situation. Both are under the assumption they can save Jean. This is where Xavier’s lesson of inanimate objects weakens to nothing. The Phoenix is not inanimate, and neither is Jean: they have wills of their own. If Jean is incapable of controlling it, neither can Xavier’s fatherliness nor Raven’s motherliness.
Rather, the Phoenix is the hyperbolic manifestation of all of their wills, and unbridled passion in general, similarly expressed in the 1956 film Forbidden Planet’s the Id. It is not the true antagonist, unlike Vuk (Jessica Chastain) who is the actual adversary. Her character is written in the same vein as (2009) Star Trek’s Nero. The Phoenix destroyed Vuk’s planet, and she believes if she harnessed it she could rebuild their race.
Sophie Turner’s overall performance is very engaging. She expresses three distinctly different modes of tension throughout the plot. Her skill is well showcased in her portrayal of Jean’s experience with the Phoenix. The fortitude Game of Thrones fans would have liked to see develop in Sansa is demonstrated in Jean in Dark Phoenix.
This is an interesting juxtaposition. Raven believes she can save Jean by being overprotective of Jean’s womanliness, and Vuk believes she can wield the Phoenix by feeding Jean’s womanly ego. Because Vuk is an alien, it frames the behavior of inflating a woman’s power is in itself unearthly. And, it truly is.
Xavier acknowledges that is his actions to shield Jean from her past was a fatal mistake. This reveals another juxtaposition. Xavier adopted Jean because her biological father abandoned her. Yes, Xavier lied to Jean, but he raised her with every care he possessed. After he repents of the indiscretion, he is able to give Jean the support to survive. The present and determined father is what is needed, always.
Jean has the ultimate battle with Vuk. Because Jean has passionate connections with her X-Men family, Vuk calls her weak for possessing emotions. Jean affronts Vuk by making evidently clear that her emotions are what make her stronger.
That may be all well and good to express, but what is grounding Jean’s emotions of love, empathy, and kindness. Vuk has emotions too: ruthlessness, covetousness, and conniving. Making a distinction here would have made this sturdier.
One of the three predictions I presented on Jacob Airey’s StudioJake was accurate. Watch the podcast and the movie to find out.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix is a good film, whether you like Marvel superhero movies or not. The question of what makes us human, and what makes us better are tested well in this plot. It is a worthwhile film that will properly usher new characters within the X-Men canon. I say it is worth experiencing in theaters.
Check out the trailer below:
Rosemary Dewar is an All-Star guest on StudioJake and a frequent contributor to Athens Now and Red Alert Politics. The views and opinions expressed in this interview do not necessarily reflect those of the chief editor of this blog.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my review of Batman: Last Knight On Earth Book One and Rosemary Dewar’s review of John Wick 3. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.