This week’s release of X-Men: Dark Phoenix looks set to be the final time we see this iteration of the mutant superhero team - that began with 2011’s X-Men: First Class - on screen.
WARNING: Dark Phoenix spoilers - but only ones already shown in trailers - coming up
It’s already been revealed that the death of Jennifer Lawrence’s Raven plays a big part of Dark Phoenix. But following Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox - the studio responsible for the X-Men films so far - it looks like the X-Universe is set for a big reboot under the watchful eye of Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios. This means Dark Phoenix is also the last time we’ll probably see James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters, Alexandra Shipp, Tye Sheridan, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Sophie Turner as X-Men.
However, should Fox have continued making X-Men films on their own terms, things would likely have been shaken up after Dark Phoenix anyway to try a keep up with the rival superhero franchises at Disney, Sony, and Warner Bros.
Read more: Chaos behind-the-scenes on X-Men
“I think had the Disney deal not gone through, it's likely whatever came next was going to be radically different,” Hutch Parker, producer on Dark Phoenix and many previous X-Men films, tells Yahoo Movies UK.
“And that was part of our intention and design. And it really did grow organically out of the last handful of movies and feeling like it was time, and keeping with kind of the great work you're seeing be done elsewhere. Then we’d not be too precious, and we'd be a little bit more bold.”
Although it’s not clear what a “radically different” X-Men series would have looked like in this alternate reality where Fox remained a studio in its own right, there have been a few hints dropped in the fallout of the mega-deal.
X-Men First Class writer Zack Stentz recently revealed that Fox had, for a time, developed a crossover event movie featuring all of the Marvel characters it had control over in the early 2010s.
Read more: Why Dark Phoenix ending changed
Talking on Kevin Smith’s Fatman Beyond Podcast, (via Heroic Hollywood) Stentz said: “It used the X-Men. It used the Fantastic Four. It used Daredevil. It used Deadpool. Daredevil was still at Fox at the time. We almost had Paul Greengrass directing it which would’ve been so cool but he had another project to do instead.”
Dark Phoenix’s writer-director Simon Kinberg says he always viewed the latest X-Men film as a finale to franchise so far.
“I approached this movie - going back three years ago, long before Disney and all of that - as the culmination, the climax, of this cycle of X-Men storytelling,” Kinberg explains.
“There’s no question in my mind that there’ll be more X-Men movies. I don’t know what form they’ll take, I genuinely don’t know. I don’t know that Marvel knows what form they’ll take, but I treated this one like we were completing a story that we had begun a decade ago, or in some cases two decades ago.”
“I think it’s pretty clear that Marvel's doing the best work in this space that's ever been done,” adds Parker. “I'm assuming they will recapture these characters as they have recaptured the rights, and that they will invent new and exciting ways to explore them.”
The narrative of the X-Men films is complicated, but there are two clear timelines for the two generations of the characters: One that begins with Bryan Singer’s 2000 X-Men, one that begins with Matthew Vaughn’s 2011 X-Men: First Class, and both converged in 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past.
So Dark Phoenix is a culmination for both timelines, but more specifically for the First Class sequence of films.
“I think this is the completion and the culmination of this cycle of X-Men movies and we may never see this family played by these people again,” clarifies Kinberg.
“It was time for us to bring some, if not final resolution to everything, a partial resolution to ideas and conflicts that we've been playing with for a while,” adds Parker.
“There's time for us to now move on a little bit, and allow the characters to move on. And to give the audience a more hopefully, compelling experience by virtue of the fact that our characters, the characters we love, are experiencing greater change and having bigger changes in their lives.”
What those changes are, we’ll let you discover for yourselves, but one character who enjoys a wholly satisfying arc is Michael Fassbender’s Magneto.
“It’s been a good journey,” Fassbender tells Yahoo in the video interview above. “I think four films... that’s good innings. I feel like we had a really good run.”
“I guess what we’re both [James McAvoy and I] happy that this is a great film to end it on.”
Read more: All 11 X-Men films ranked
Others in the cast, who only joined the franchise more recently, feel like they would have liked to carry on with their characters in more X-Men films. Evan Peters, who joined the series as Quicksilver in Days of Future Past, recently confessed he was disappointed that he’d not be doing more.
“I think it’d be super-fun to keep doing these and explore more,” Peters tells us.
“I don’t want it to end,” adds Shipp, returning as Storm for the second time in Dark Phoenix.
However, Shipp doesn’t feel very confident about the X-Men matching up with the Avengers, should they get to carry on in the MCU.
“A lot of the Avengers are gods, so I think that’s a difference,” says the 27-year-old.
“Storm’s definitely a mutant, we’re all mutants and we all have powers that are an evolution of the human condition, but Thor’s a god... you feel me?”
“C’mon, I can’t fight with that... I don’t know man... I hate to say it, but I think the Avengers would win [a fight with the X-Men].”
X-Men: Dark Phoenix flies into UK cinemas tomorrow, 5 June.