In the year 2000, something happened that revolutionized the film industry. A major studio assembled several major blockbusters actors together into an assemble film about mutants and played it straight. Big effects and a big serious story, given blockbuster previews and press. And X-Men became a blockbuster that showed to the world that superhero movies could be done big and straight and be successful.

It revolutionized the film industry and brought about a new generation of big budget superhero films. X-Men would go on to spawn two direct sequels, several indirect sequels, and several more prequels set in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. But there was one limitation that Fox could never break in their X-Men films. They couldn’t go to space. Other franchises like Fantastic Four tried it and failed to live up to their promise. So X-Men stayed rooted to the terrestrial to the point that the Dark Phoenix saga in X-Men 3 completely cut out the space-based center of that story in the comics.

But the X-Men films did revolutionize the film industry, and it did allow other film companies to bring their best foot forward with films of their own. Including Marvel with Iron Man 8 years later. Which started off the Marvel Cinematic Universe that DID go into space. First with Thor a little bit and then for real in Guardians of the Galaxy. They went into space all the way and melded it with superhero films in a way that totally worked. The MCU proved you could meld the two together and make a blockbuster.

Which allowed the X-Men to come home in the end. Dark Phoenix follows generations of X-Men stories and goes straight into space. No half measures. No slight of hand. It opens with the X-Men going into space to rescue the space shuttle Endeavor that is spinning out of control after having its systems affected by some kind of solar flare or something. Or something.

Enter The Phoenix and the movie comes back down to Earth with a truly interstellar crash landing that gains momentum all the way to the end of the movie. There are aliens. There are government hunter-capture teams and Deadpool-style anti-mutant collars. There are X-Men 3 style red trenchcoats. There are crowning moments of awesome by numerous mutants in a row from Storm to Magneto to Cyclops and many others.

Of the X-Men films, Dark Phoenix feels like it’s the most big spectacle of them all. Where individual mutants got to strut their stuff in previous movies, this one allowed all of them to show off at once in some truly amazing ways. Is it the best story I’ve ever seen? No. Was it a bit darker than I like my movies? Yes. But the X-Men films have all been a bit dour in their way. So it’s a fitting conclusion to the X-Men story.

And yes, this is a conclusion. This is the last of the X-Men films as we’ve known them for the last two decades. Dark Phoenix is the swan song of the series. And it fills the role well.

I enjoyed seeing the characters I’ve gotten to know in one more story, and that’s enough for me in the end.