Note: Contains spoilers for X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
Since the release of X-Men: Dark Phoenix, the post-release discussion has been dominated by what might have been.
The culmination of Fox's X-Men franchise could only manage a $32.8 million debut at the US box office, marking a series low by some distance. It didn't fair much better overseas with $104 million, leaving it facing the prospect of losing more than $100 million.
One of the aspects that people have focused on is the film's reshoots. They're a common occurrence for most blockbusters, but Dark Phoenix's reshoots seem to have been more extensive than the norm, completely changing the third act of the movie.
Here's the thing though: that original ending wouldn't have made a difference either.
As it stands, the final act of Dark Phoenix sees the X-Men, including Jean Grey, captured by the MCU (we see what you did there, guys). Vuk is still after Jean's Phoenix powers though, so she attacks the prison transport with the D'Bari.
A battle ensues and eventually sees Jean take full control of her Phoenix powers to destroy the remaining D'Bari forces. Seeing the damage that her power is doing to her "family", Jean takes Vuk into space and kills her, seemingly sacrificing herself as well (but maybe not).
Talking to Digital Spy, producer Hutch Parker revealed that the original ending was "more of a cosmic story".
"The story ended in space in a much more significant way," he explained. "We actually shifted that to be back on Earth, most notably, so that we can involve our main characters and see them come together."
It was then reported that the ending was changed because it was too similar to a recent Marvel movie, with most assuming that it was the space-set Captain Marvel. However, according to writer-director Simon Kinberg, it was more like Captain America: Civil War in tone.
Much like Civil War's final battle was between Captain America, Iron Man and the Winter Soldier, Dark Phoenix's original ending was said to only involve Jean, Cyclops and Professor X against Vuk.
According to Tye Sheridan, this ending saw Professor X and Cyclops go to the UN because Vuk had captured Jean, and they had to warn them that the world was under threat. This resulted in a big battle where it's revealed that all of the UN guards are Skrulls, but luckily Jean fights them all off and then goes back into space.
Sheridan admitted that he couldn't remember all of the details, so it's unclear if this was the actual ending, or if there was something else after. Given the repositioning of Dark Phoenix as the climax of the X-Men saga, it makes sense they'd shift the ending to one that involved more of the mutants.
However, one of the problems with the released version of Dark Phoenix is that it still feels quite similar to both Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame – in fact, Jean's main realisation that her emotions make her strong is exactly the same one that Carol Danvers came to in Captain Marvel.
This isn't actually Dark Phoenix's fault, though.
By being moved back from February to June, it went from being the first of this trio of superhero movies to be released, to the last of the three.
Sticking with the original ending would only have attracted more criticism that it was the same as the Marvel movies, especially if they'd included the Skrulls.
We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
In truth, given everything that had happened before release, it almost didn't matter what Dark Phoenix was actually like – or how it ended. This isn't a #ReleaseTheSnyderCut situation where fans are thinking that the original version of the movie would have saved it.
Sure, some more positive reviews might have helped boost the box office numbers and maybe the original cut was a stronger movie. But the problems for Dark Phoenix weren't even really of its own making.
Whether it was the reshoots, the X-Men's anticipated entry into the MCU, X-Men: Apocalypse's failure or the fact that the story had been told before (badly) with 2006's The Last Stand, everything contributed to the overwhelming sense of apathy towards the movie.
In another world, X-Men: Dark Phoenix could have been one of the biggest movies of the summer. But as it is, it didn't really matter what version of the movie was released – it was fighting a battle it'd already lost.
X-Men: Dark Phoenix is out now.
('You Might Also Like',)