Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the ending of Dark Phoenix. You have been warned.
The end of Dark Phoenix may have given a definitive conclusion to every other beloved X-Men character, but it just left the titular heroine’s fate out in the wind, vague and totally unexplained. So did Jean... die at the end of Dark Phoenix? It's a little more complicated than that and luckily for you, we were able to dig up a few answers that the movie glossed right over.
First, in case you zoned out after Jessica Chastain uttered the line "your emotions make you weak," here's where the movie left Jean: After an incredibly high-stakes train heist scene in which the power-hungry alien Vuk (Chastain) and her followers tried to get suck the cosmic energy inside of Jean, our gal finally took hold of her mystical and destructive new powers. She vaporized all the aliens trying to come at her in a badass moment that we had been waiting all movie to see, as she finally owned her power. But in a twist, when Vuk tried to steal the cosmic energy from Jean, Jean actually let her, knowing that the power would destroy Vuk since she wasn’t a mutant like Jean and therefore couldn’t hold it inside of her.
As Vuk was beginning to vaporize, Jean flew both of them up into space, far away from Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), Scott Summers (Tye Sheridan), and the rest of the X-Men trying to protect her. She knew the power was going to be unleashed in another explosive moment and didn’t want anyone else that she loved to die like Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) did earlier in the movie.
But here’s where things get a little questionable.
It appeared as if Jean died in the explosion up in space. But the explosion was weirdly in the shape of a phoenix (ha, get it?). Of course, her friends down on the ground couldn’t see that and assumed she had died. They ended up renaming Xavier’s school for mutants in Jean Grey’s honor as a memorial. Hank took over as headmaster after Xavier’s mistakes with Jean’s childhood came to light (he lied about her father being alive and mentally blocked her memories of her mother’s death). Hank still mourned Raven. Students became teachers. Life went on. Erik 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. 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 all felt like a very final ending.
But then the camera panned up to where a flaming being flew through the sky. We couldn’t see who or what it was, but it was obviously Jean, in some form or another. Her voice-over stated that she had “evolved beyond this world,” but what does that even mean? Is she still alive somehow? What is her new form?
In the comics, Jean’s near-death experience in space (like the moment that plays out in the beginning of the movie) results in the universe sending her the Phoenix Force, the manifestation of the power of creation and life itself. This energy lived inside Jean and eventually took her over, turning her dark. Eventually she left Earth, as she does at the end of the movie, and ended up causing a lot of destruction across the universe as Dark Phoenix. We can probably assume that's what the movie was hinting at, however lightly.
If it wasn't for the recent Fox-Disney merger, I'd say definitively that this comics storyline makes for clear sequel material, but now that the Mouse House owns Fox (the studio that owns the X-Men franchise, which fans have speculated will be rebooted and merged into the Marvel Cinematic Universe alongside the Avengers), we may be left wondering what Jean does up in space forever.
That definitive comic book ending might be all we get (which is at least more than the movie gives us).