“Dark Phoenix” clocks in at just under 2 hours, but not because the story is tightly written. Rather, it’s a hodgepodge of different drafts, cut to the bone and devoid of rhythm. In particular, there’s the third act and the film’s antagonists.
The villains of “Dark Phoenix,” at least during principal photography and before re-shoots, were the Skrulls. The film was supposed to conclude with the X-Men battling the Skrulls outside the United Nations in New York. This was changed due to similarities with another superhero movie, almost certainly “Captain Marvel,” which also released in 2019 and featured Skrulls. Director Simon Kinberg also felt the ending was too similar to “Captain America: Civil War.” The third act was re-shot into battle on a train with the X-Men trying to stop the aliens from reaching the unconscious Jean Grey (Sophie Turner).
Said aliens were also revised from Skrulls into the D’Bari — in the comic “Dark Phoenix Saga,” Jean destroys their planet. Still, they’re Skrulls in all but name, complete with shapeshifting powers. Their leader, played by Jessica Chastain, is the greatest victim of the movie’s uncertain direction — her character was rumored to be everyone from Lilandra (empress of the alien Shi’ar and paramour of Professor X), to Skrull Queen Veranke, to Emma Frost, but in the end was Vuk, who “obscure” doesn’t even begin to cover. Chastain even admitted she didn’t know her character’s name during shooting.