Where Do I Begin?
I know. I know. Dark Phoenix was taken from Simon Kinberg’s hands and manipulated to death. Well, that’s not ALL true, at least in public. Kinberg mentioned as much in a post-interview of the film’s release where he talked about what actually happened. So whether it was to save face or remain cordial to his employer, he took full responsibility with the financial failure of Dark Phoenix. It was his directorial debut after all. However, one thing was pretty clear. Dark Phoenix was never meant to be a summer blockbuster. If only the marketing people knew that.
Now, before I get into all of that, just know that I fully understand marketing is a very difficult process. Not only do you have to sell what the film is without giving the main story away, but you also have to draw the general audience in as well. And in an oversaturated market of Superhero films releasing every month, that becomes difficult. It becomes even more daunting when the company responsible for releasing Dark Phoenix was bought by Disney during post-production. I should add that I loved the film for what it was and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Dark Phoenix was originally supposed to release in November of 2018. This film was also meant to be split up into two films. The first film where you fall in love with Jean Grey as a character. The second where she breaks your heart. Thematically it makes sense with a lot of what I’ve seen in some of my favorite films & shows (i.e. Star Wars, Game Of Thrones, etc.). But rewrites to combine both films into one and reshoots changing the third act created a new film altogether. Justice League, anyone?
But Kinberg was still in charge, at least from what we can tell. There were rumors that he was assisted with some of the directing from previous X-Men directors but who knows if that’ll ever come out. He also stated that the film was always a fall/winter film because of the nature of the story he wanted to tell. That’s why Avengers Endgame was being marketed as a Summer hit. But why was Dark Phoenix marketed as one when it wasn’t meant to be a summer blockbuster? One Word: Disney. The marketing team responsible for Dark Phoenix was laid off during the promotional work because of the merger between Fox and Disney and spots were never filled. You can easily see how things were handled just by observing how the logo of the film changed from the first teaser to the final product in the film below.
To watch the first teaser trailer of Dark Phoenix was to view that actual intent of what the film was going to be. The only problem? It highlighted most of the male characters of the X-Men franchise talking ABOUT Jean, never just her. And that’s where the marketing failed. This film was always about the female-centric character who happens to be the most powerful X-Men character as well. But watching most of the trailers, you would think this was just another typical X-Men movie that just so happens to feature Jean Grey. Forget for a moment that the film was actually titled ‘Dark Phoenix‘ and you can see the problem that ensues with that type of marketing.
Now, yes, I have the luxury of playing armchair quarterback by not only having the entire film to work off of but also how they created the trailers. It might be more difficult if I wanted to create my own version without proper VFX fully rendered. But that’s me playing devil’s advocate. I won’t complain about something unless I can do something about it. Hence, why I was able to procure my own version focusing on the main female protagonist and antagonist. After all, the teaser trailer could highlight how Dark Phoenix would be female-centric along with being an X-Men film. They dropped the X-Men title from the film anyways. Why not market the film like Captain Marvel or Alita: Battle Angel? Or better yet, why not focus on Jean Grey the entire time? I did.