20th Century Fox just made an unexpected announcement to change Dark Phoenix‘s release date, pushing the film back so that it will now release after Avengers 4 – but that doesn’t mean the film is part of the MCU. On September 27, Fox finally released the first trailer for Dark Phoenix. Just a day later, they startled X-Men fans with the news that they were once again pushing back the film’s release date. Dark Phoenix will now come out on June 7.
At first glance, that seems a strange decision in light of the Disney/Fox merger that’s in the works, especially following Dark Phoenix’s highly publicized reshoots. Assuming everything goes as planned, by mid-to-late 2019 the film rights to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four will have been returned to Marvel; Dark Phoenix will be the last X-Men tentpole movie released under Fox. The fact the film now releases after Avengers 4 is leading to a great deal of speculation due to recent reshoots – could Marvel and Fox be conducting reshoots that would bring the X-Men into the MCU?
That’s not the case. It’s important to understand that the change to Dark Phoenix’s release date was a small part of a major shuffling of a chunk of the studio’s calendar, and they were mostly driven by Alita: Battle Angel. Fox felt Alita‘s current December slot was too crowded, especially given the film has been failing to attract the attention Fox hoped for. There was no way Alita could compete with the likes of Bumblebee and Aquaman, so the studio chose to push it back to a more opportune slot. Chinese New Year was perfect – but would leave Alita competing with another Fox property, Dark Phoenix, forcing another change to the Fox slate.
It’s hardly unprecedented for a studio to move a superhero film’s release into the summer, and that’s a particularly smart move for Dark Phoenix; the film now has a better shot at the Chinese box office. According to Deadline, the Chinese version of the trailer clocked 44 million views in its first 24 hours online, so there’s clearly real interest in the film in that market. Additionally, in June premium screens are available to Fox that had previously been booked for Gambit.
There’s currently lots of speculation that Avengers 4 will somehow introduce the idea of mutants into the MCU. This is understandably driven by excitement at the prospect of the X-Men and the Avengers coexisting in the same universe, but it’s premature. While Disney and Fox are probably sharing information in order to begin the process of consolidating their assets, they’ll still be wary at this stage of violating antitrust laws because the deal is awaiting approval by international regulators. The full merger will then take some months; details of the process were outlined in a letter to shareholders, and it won’t be quick. That means the X-Men probably won’t enter the MCU until 2021 at the earliest. The most Marvel will be able to do right now is prepare retcons that could incorporate the X-Men into their shared cinematic universe later on.
We’re going to have to be patient. The X-Men and the Fantastic Four will indeed be coming to the MCU, but it won’t be for some time yet. Neither Dark Phoenix‘s two weeks of reshoots nor the shuffling of Fox’s release dates actually indicates that anything has changed at all about that.