This summer, the superhero world will face the end of an era one that doesn’t have anything to do with the Avengers. Fox’s X-Men series is finally coming to a close with an adaptation of an iconic Marvel story: Dark Phoenix. Here are a few of the things you need to know before you see the last of the X-Men movies. And there are spoilers ahead! But it’s spoilers from the trailer. Regardless, be forewarned!
The Dark Phoenix Saga, as it’s come to be known through years of reprints and adaptations, is perhaps the most famous and widely referenced storyline in the history of X-Men comics though it has often been taken very loosely when adapted to the screen.
The setup for the story began in Uncanny X-Men #101 in 1976, with the X-Men embarking on a mission to space, during which Jean Grey encounters what seems to be a deadly solar flare. In that moment, instead of dying, she reaches the full potential of her Omega-level mutant powers, which allow her to transcend her corporeal form.
Jean later returns to her body, though when she reunites with the X-Men she has a new look, a greatly enhanced set of powers, and the name “Phoenix.” For a while, this became somewhat of a status quo in the X-Men comics, as Phoenix seemed to be able to hold back her own darker urges and maintain a power level that allowed her to remain a valuable ally to the X-Men. But that wouldn’t last for long.
The Dark Phoenix saga proper was kicked off three years later in Uncanny X-Men #129, when creators Chris Claremont and John Byrne decided it was time to truly activate Jean Grey’s full potential, not just as an incredibly powerful being, but as a supervillain.
This begins with the evil mutant Mastermind dominating Jean’s mind, projecting visions into her head that eventually lead her to assume the evil identity of “The Black Queen” and rebel against the X-Men. Jean briefly joins the Hellfire Club before realizing the deception that put her there, strikes down Mastermind, and then eventually chooses to abandon all ties to her former identity as “Jean Grey.” Phoenix defeats the X-Men and takes to space, but her journey through the cosmos leaves her so drained that she consumes an entire solar system to restore her power, inadvertently causing mass genocide on nearby planets. Make sure you watch this before you see Dark Phoenix!
The beginnings of a saga | 0:26
Evil | 1:25
The last stand | 2:36
Where we’re at | 3:46
Lingering questions | 4:44
The end of an era | 5:51
Early days | 7:01
Delays | 8:08
Genosha | 8:59
A major death | 9:51