Dark Phoenix represents a different kind of superhero movie in that its heroes are not invincible. There are real stakes and real loss, including a major member of the X-Men team.
[SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN DARK PHOENIX!]
The trailers for Phoenix already not-so-subtly alluded to this but about 30 minutes into the film Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique is accidentally killed by Jean Grey (Sophie Turner). When she tries to calm down an angered Jean/Phoenix, Mystique is sent flying and impaled on some debris. Her death then divides the X-Men into two sides: those who want Jean dead (Beast, Magneto) and those who want to save her (Charles, Cyclops).
“I think one of the things that’s nice about this movie is thematically it’s about a family and it resonated with all of us,” Kinberg told EW in the Phoenix edit bay in March. “It is this family of people and there was this feeling on the set of this one like it was the culmination of all of this and it felt appropriate that we would kill off one of the main characters. Mystique or Magneto were the two we could kill off if you think about the end of Days of Future Past in that they are not in the mansion. Everybody else is there in the mansion. We also just felt that Mystique is so central to so many different stories emotionally. She would trigger so many different emotional reactions. The shooting of it was kind of bittersweet because we were saying goodbye to that character and it also felt like a weird completion of something. It really felt like the culmination of not just the living together for the last 10 years of our lives but also the culmination of storytelling over 6 or 7 hours of movies.”
Added producer Hutch Parker, “The family dynamics were pushed to a threshold they really hadn’t been before. And in the backdrop we set out to do something that felt complete. We don’t have a tag on the end of this. Part of that was the end is a little intense and it doesn’t feel like you should go to a tag. And part of it is because we kind of intended this to feel like an ending.”
Even though it’s an intense twist, Turner told EW there was still levity while shooting it. “It was very emotional and even more so for people like James [McAvoy] and Nick [Hoult],” says the actress. “But as with a typical day with Jen, it was full of laughter and it wasn’t as upsetting as we thought it would be.”