Most fans would agree that Dark Phoenix is comfortably the worst entry in the thirteen-film X-Men saga, bringing one of the industry’s most popular and lucrative franchises to a dismal end. Series veteran Simon Kinberg bit off much more than he could chew after deciding to make his directorial debut on a $200 million comic book blockbuster, and the results were dire.
Limping to $252 million at the box office, a record low until The New Mutants came along and was instantly crippled by the pandemic, Dark Phoenix went down in the history books as 2019’s biggest bomb. Reviews were equally savage, with critics deeming it worthy of just 22% on Rotten Tomatoes, even if the audience score currently sits at a surprising 64%.
Tales of behind the scenes woe plagued the production from start to finish, and in a new interview on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, star Jessica Chastain admitted that she didn’t even know her character’s name until she saw Dark Phoenix for the first time.
“The reality is our situations were very different. My situation, I think the studio was bought at a certain point. I didn’t even know what my character’s name was until I saw the film. It was an interesting thing. But Simon Kinberg who directed it is an incredible human being and I’d work with him again. I love him.”
That’s a damning indictment of what went on, especially when Chastain was both the film’s big bad and the main driving force behind Jean Grey’s slow-burning turn to the side of evil. Then again, there’s probably a lot of people who’ve seen Dark Phoenix that wouldn’t be able to tell you the two-time Academy Award nominee played Vuk, leader of the D’Bari, so it’s a forgivable sin.