It took long enough, but the last chapter of the original X-Men movie saga is finally going to arrive on streaming. With the proliferation of streaming services and apps out there, there was some question about whether Dark Phoenix would make it to Netflix. Or perhaps since it’s a former 20th Century Fox (now 20th Century Studios) production, and thus under the Disney umbrella, whether its streaming home would be Disney+ or the similarly Disney-owned Hulu. That isn’t the case, though, and Dark Phoenix will stream on HBO Now. Considering that it stars Sophie Turner as its title character, it’s kind of appropriate that everyone gets to spend more time with the former Sansa Stark on the network that brought Game of Thrones to life. The film also stars James McAvoy (who also just spent time on HBO via His Dark Materials) as Charles Xavier, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, and Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique.
Here’s the official synopsis that came with HBO’s announcement:
“During a space rescue mission, Jean Grey (Turner) transforms into the infinitely capable and dangerous Dark Phoenix. As she spirals out of control, the X-Men must come together to face their most devastating enemy yet…one of their own.”
The Dark Phoenix Saga is the most well-known, acclaimed, and beloved story in the nearly 60 year history of Marvel’s X-Men comics. The movie on the other hand…well, let’s just say it wasn’t. The story had been adapted for TV on the excellent (sorry) X-Men: The Animated Series in the 1990s, and loosely adapted for the…less than excellent X-Men: The Last Stand. The film was plagued by a series of re-shoots and release date delays, some a result of the usual Hollywood meddling and others perhaps a product of 20th Century Fox’s acquisition by Disney, whose own Marvel franchise doesn’t fit with the moodier aesthetic of Fox’s previous 19 years of X-Men movies.
By the time the Dark Phoenix movie hit theaters, superhero fans had already been dazzled (and exhausted) by Avengers: Endgame, and the relatively grounded X-Men movie landed with a thud at the box office, a victim of its own uneven quality and perhaps a studio in flux and a loss of confidence in the final product. Needless to say, Dark Phoenix isn’t quite the triumphant sendoff that this franchise, which helped transform superhero movies from relatively infrequent, niche affairs into consistent mainstream blockbusters, deserved. Nevertheless, it’s an important bit of history, as the last remnant of a sprawling superhero movie franchise that once set the pace.
Dark Phoenix will premiere on HBO Now on Saturday, March 21.