Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the end of Dark Phoenix.
It’s been 19 years since the first live-action X-Men movie debuted back in 2000, and since then we’ve seen the franchise churn out 11 more films culminating in the release of Dark Phoenix, aka Jean Grey’s (Sophie Turner) solo outing. That’s almost two decades of comic book mutants come to life. Yeah.
But all things must come to an end, and Dark Phoenix might be the last X-Men movie in the 20th Century Fox era of the franchise (technically next year’s The New Mutants is the last 20th Century Fox X-Men film but it’s been riddled with reshoots and delays and still might not make it to the screen so we’re not holding our breath on that one). That doesn’t mean that this is the last we’ll ever see of the X-Men on the big screen however — it's highly doubtful that the recent Fox-Disney merger won't result in more superheroes on the big screen.
Now that Disney bought out Fox, that means the X-Men property is now in the hands of the studio that governs most Marvel characters. The X-Men have always been Marvel Comics characters, but thanks to some business red tape, they haven’t been able to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). There’s no confirmation about any Disney plans to incorporate the X-Men into the MCU, but it's highly unlikely that X-Men changes don't arrive in the coming years now that Disney owns the IP. But what does that potential mean for the characters we’ve come to know and love on the big screen over the past 19 years?
If we’re going based off of what happens in Dark Phoenix, it’s honestly time to say goodbye to these versions of the characters (and the actors who have played them throughout the franchise). The end of Dark Phoenix played almost like an epilogue, setting each character on a new path that effectively concluded their stories from the film franchise. Jean Grey “died” after the Phoenix Force inside of her explodes (technically although she actually just “evolved” into something “beyond this world,” leaving her friends and loved ones to mourn her and rename Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters into Jean Grey’s School For Gifted Youngsters, but that's a whole thing).
As for the rest of the X-Men, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) resigned from his post as headmaster of the school for young mutants, and Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult) took up the position instead. And from the framed photo of Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) on his desk, it’s clear that Hank will be mourning his ex for a long time. The new generation of X-Men like Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), and Quicksilver (Evan Peters) became teachers at the school. Meanwhile Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender) left his mutant colony safehaven to find Xavier in Paris as the former leader of the X-Men was trying to find his new purpose in life after his mistakes in handling Jean’s traumatic childhood. Xavier rejected Erik’s offer to come and live in his colony but the two former friends did begin to play a game of chess, “for old times’ sake.”
It was a peaceful way to end their turbulent story — and it does certainly feel like a definitive end. Now the only question remains: when will Marvel reboot the X-Men franchise, and which characters will be reimagined in it?