DARK PHOENIX

3 Stars – Intriguing

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In the world of evolutionary biology mutation is what drives the changes rather than natural selection. This fact is a primary foundation for Marvel’s X-Men mutants.  The idea is that some humans mutate in a giant step forward having specific and often astronomical abilities other humans do not have. 

Created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee of Marvel Comics in 1963 these genetically altered human beings have become both a threat to the rest of humanity as well as possible heroes.  But in recent stories the superheroes of the Marvel Universe are not just mutated humans, but persons who have come into contact with a powerful energy.  This was seen in Captain Marvel and now in Dark Phoenix as the troubled mutant Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) is able to absorb a power so astronomical as to be able to create life or bring destruction.

As can be imagined such a power is being sought by aliens who are able to take human form.  The aliens are not humans who mutated but beings from another planet that was destroyed by this power and who are wanting to take over the earth and kill all humans. These D’Bari are led by Vuk (Jessica Chastain) who has taken over the body of a human woman.

The subplot is the struggle between the X-Men that previous stories have created.  We won’t spoil those since that is the true interest for the fans of the series, but the moral lessons are several.  First, is it permissible to protect a child by suppressing their painful memories?  Does this empower or harm their developing sense of self?  Second, what are the fears that would cause humanity to imprison or isolate those who are different?  Third, if mutation begins the process of evolution can there be an outside force that causes a giant leap in that evolutionary process?  What do we call that outside force?  And last, when a leader becomes self-serving how does the group help that leader to retire and have the next generation choose their own leaders?

As is true of all fantasy and sci-fi films and stories, the context is only the vehicle for better understanding ourselves and the human condition.  In that goal the X-Men franchise is perhaps the most helpful of the films.  However even the X-Men are often caught up in battle rather than in exploring deeply the larger human issues.  Perhaps future films will solve that and create truly great science fiction.

 

Discussion:

  1. Directed by Simon Kinberg is better known as a producer. This is only one of three films he has directed.  How did you experience his work in contrast to the other X-Men films?

  2. The decision in several of the large franchises to allow a central character to be killed brings a feeling of mystery and reality to the films.  But how does it change the series for you when a favorite character is killed?

  3. The dark side of every person’s abilities are easily seen.  What are your abilities and how does the dark or shadow side of that ability show itself in your life?

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Posted on June 12, 2019 and filed under 3 STARS, INTRIGUING.