Quotes And Leadership Lessons From X-Men: Dark Phoenix

A Reel Leadership Article

While Marvel Studios has been crushing superhero films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, 20th Century Fox has been building the X-Men universe through their X-Men films. X-Men: Dark Phoenix marks the 12th film set in their series.

X-Men: The Dark Phoenix is also the last X-Men film to be produced by 20th Century Fox (there is an upcoming New Mutants film that may be a part of this universe). It’s the swan song to what started many great adventures of the X-Men.

Professor X, Magneto, and Jean Grey in promotional image for X-Men Dark Phoenix

As we begin to enter the final films of the 20th Century Fox film universe, X-Men: Dark Phoenix is a fitting end to the series. You get an out of this world movie with a well-done ending.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix retells the story of Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) as the Phoenix Force invades her body. This transition causes Jean to lose control and attack her fellow X-Men. Scott Summers/Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Ororo Monroe/Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicholas Hoult), Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), and Professor Charles Xavier/Professor X (James McAvoy) are all in her crosshairs.

The exciting conclusion to the X-Men saga is much better than movie critics are saying. If you’ve been a fan of the X-Men movies before this, you’ll be a fan of X-Men: Dark Phoenix.

But that’s not why you’re here. You’re here to discover the leadership lessons in X-Men: Dark Phoenix. So, without further ado, here’s your latest Reel Leadership article.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From X-Men: Dark Phoenix

1. It’s easy to not realize the power you possess:

In a flashback to 1975, we see a young Jean Grey riding in a car with her parents. Jean asks her parents to change the channel and they refuse.

This didn’t bode well. Jean’s powers began to manifest. She used her telekinesis to change the radio station. She then begins to scream…

Then the accident happens.

The car tumbles, glass breaks, and people are hurt. Except for Jean. She unconsciously used her powers to shield herself from the accident and glass.

How many leaders are like young Jean Grey? They have untapped power and potential. They just don’t know it.

You may not realize the amount of power you possess either. It’s easy to miss but know you do have power.

As a leader, you have power over others. You can hire and fire. You can uplift and encourage or you can tear down. The power you possess is immense.

2. Professor Xavier:

You’ve got gifts, Jean.

Professor X recognized Jean was a mutant. Special powers come from being a mutant.

Professor X realized this. He saw the power and potential of Jean. He verbally told Jean she had gifts.

This recognition of gifts is something leaders should do often. When they see gifts in their team members, they should recognize the team member and their gifts.

Don’t hold back from recognizing great performance, special talents, and more on your team. By speaking up, you will encourage them to grow their talents.

3. You can be a good leader or a bad leader. It’s your choice:

As Professor X is talking to Jean, he tells her about a pen. He told her she could draw a lovely picture with the pen. A work of art would be born.

Or, she had another choice. The pen could be used as a weapon. The person wielding the pen could poke someone in the eye.

What’s the difference? The choice a person makes. One is good, one is bad.

You have a choice. You can choose to be a good leader. A leader people look up to and respect. Or you can choose to be a bad leader. You can demand respect and honor. You can rule with an iron fist.

The choice is yours.

4. You can be unwell and not know it:

The X-Men were asked by the president of the United States to go on a risky mission. There was a space shuttle with a crew of astronauts in danger of a “space flare.” Would they go and save them?

Of course, the X-Men chose to go. In saving the astronauts, Jean Grey was put into a bad situation. Nightcrawler went to save the lead astronaut and Jean was holding the ship together. The solar flare began to move towards the ship and Nightcrawler had to get out.

This left Jean alone in the ship. It also allowed the “solar flare” to engulf Jean. The solar flare was actually the Phoenix Force. A cosmic energy of immense power.

Jean walked away from the mission. She looked well. But she wasn’t. She had something going on inside of her.

When asked by Scott if she was well, she said she’d never felt better. While she felt great, she was unwell.

You may feel like you’re at the top of your game. You may believe everything is going right. But there may still be something unwell with you.

It may be your heart. You may not be thinking and dwelling on the right things. You may be focusing too much on your work and not your health or family. It could be you’re living one way on the outside but on the inside you’re torn and conflicted.

It’s okay to be unwell. We’re all broken. But you don’t have to hide. Hiding your brokenness will only lead to more brokenness.

5. It’s okay for your team members to question your motives:

Raven saw the choices Professor X was making. She believed the choices weren’t for the best of the team. She believed Professor X was looking for fame.

Because of this, she challenged Professor X. She brought her concerns to him and asked him what was going on. She knew the well-being of the team was more important than Professor X’s status as the leader.

You may believe your motives as a leader should never be questioned, especially by those you lead. You’d be wrong. It is beneficial for your team members to question you.

They’re not questioning you because they don’t care about you. They do. That’s the reason they’re asking you what your motives are. If they didn’t care, they’d sit back and watch you destroy yourself.

Don’t push away those who are challenging you. Listen to their concerns. See if there’s legitimacy behind them. If there is, take action in correcting your actions.

6. It’s okay for team members to say no:

X-Men: Dark Phoenix saw the authority of Professor X challenged in multiple ways. Raven questioned his motives. Then Hank rebuffed a direct command from Professor X.

After Jean fled the X-Mansion, Professor X began looking for her. He used the mutant-finding computer Cerebro to begin the search. When he couldn’t connect with Jean, he asked Hank to turn up the power.

Hank, knowing what turning up the power could to do Professor X, said “No.” He wasn’t going to let Professor X hurt himself or others in his pursuit of Jean.

This is another area you have to be careful in. You may not like hearing “No” from a team member but sometimes it is the right thing for them to tell you.

Once again, listen to their concerns. Find out why they’re saying no. It may be for a very valid reason.

7. You may not like the answers you get:

Jean had been told her parents had died. This was a half-truth. Her mother died in the accident. Her father had not.

Once she discovered her father, John Grey (Scott Shepherd), was alive, she sought him out. She believed they could live as a happy family once more.

The truth was much less happy. John had given Jean to Professor X because he didn’t know what to do with her. Jean was rejected once more.

The answer Jean got from her father wasn’t the one she wanted. She became angry and destroyed her childhood home.

When you talk to your team and they give you an answer, you may not like the answer you receive. The answer may require more money, energy, or time than you would like.

Don’t get mad at your team for this. Instead, realize the answers we get aren’t the answers we always like. But getting an honest answer allows you to begin to figure out exactly what needs to be done. Use the answer to move forward.

8. Hank McCoy:

Raven died doing what she did best: Helping a friend.

In attempting to help Jean, Raven was killed. She died doing what she always did. She died trying to help.

Raven knew the dangers of trying to help Jean. Jean had become out of control. Still, Raven went to help. Her help cost her her life.

Are you willing to do what you do best regardless of the cost to you? Leaders know there is a risk in leading and doing what they do. Yet they are still willing to do what they do best.

Be aware of the risk. Still, take action.

9. Erik Lehnsherr/Magneto (Michael Fassbender):

Why are you here?

In Dark Phoenix, Magneto had been given land to create a safe haven for mutants. He and the mutants were living peacefully. Then Jean Grey shows up.

Magneto confronts Jean. He asks Hank why is she there? What does she plan to do?

Magneto needed to know Jean motives. Was she there to join them? Was she there to attack?

Magneto didn’t know… So, he asked.

Have you asked your team why they’re there? You may believe they’re working for you because of the paycheck you’re providing.

This isn’t always the case. People go to work for all kinds of reasons.

By asking them why they are there, you can learn their reason. Discovering their reason can help you lead them more effectively.

10. Seek out experienced counselors:

Jean told Magneto the reason behind her visit. She wanted help in controlling her dark impulses.

Because of Magneto’s dark past, she went to him. She wanted to ask Magneto how he controlled the dark impulses that once controlled his life.

He gave her an answer. He tried to help with his experience.

When you’re in trouble, what do you do? Do you seek your own wisdom or do you seek someone who has been there and done that?

The latter is the wiser choice to make.

In seeking out someone who has been through your situation before, you can learn from them. Listen to their wisdom. Let them guide you. Take in all they have.

Their wisdom may help prevent you from making a major mistake.

11. It takes one mistake to ruin your good reputation:

Professor X and the X-Men had built up goodwill with the United States President and government. They were on great terms and worked together.

That is until Jean Grey was consumed by the Phoenix Force and went on a rampage. Her inability to control herself ruined all of the goodwill the team had built with the government.

The President of the United States cut off communication with Professor X. They were no longer in the good graces of the government because of the action of one person.

You worked hard to get where you’re at. You sacrificed and did what was right. But what happens if you screw up?

Your screw up could cost you all of the goodwill you’ve generated. Your screw up could destroy your good reputation.

Watch your actions closely. Make sure they align with who you are. Stepping outside of that could destroy all you’ve worked for.

12. Give your team a reason:

Hank visited Magneto. He told Magneto he was seeking Jean Grey. Magneto wondered why.

Hank gave Magneto his reason. Jean Grey had killed Raven/Mystique.

That’s all Magneto needed to know. He now had the reason behind the visit. He also had a reason to go after Jean.

Have you thought about giving your a team a reason for the work they do? Giving them a reason can help motivate them to do their work with vigor.

A reason, a why gives people a clear, defined reason behind their work. This clarity lets them know they’re not doing meaningless work. Rather, they’re working for something important.

13. People will try to manipulate you:

Vuk (Jessica Chastain) is a D’Bari alien. We discover the Phoenix Force had destroyed her home planet. Because of this, Vuk was hunting the Phoenix Force.

Vuk was able to find Jean, who now possessed the Phoenix Force. She began to talk to her. She told Jean how the Phoenix Force had destroyed her homeworld.

Vuk tried to win Jean over. To make her think she was on her side. This wasn’t the case.

Vuk wanted to destroy or control the Phoenix Force. She couldn’t care less about Jean. So, she tried to manipulate her.

You have to be careful of the people you listen to. Make sure they’re trustworthy and on your side.

If they’re not, they will try to take advantage of you. They will look for ways to manipulate you and get you to do their bidding.

14. Professor X:

Jean was never the villain. I was.

Professor X came to a profound conclusion. Jean Grey, with the Dark Phoenix, looked like the villain of the movie. She may have done some bad things but she wasn’t the villain.

The true villain had been Professor X (this admission made me think of the Onslaught storyline from the late ’90s). He had let his ambition overrule his good judgment.

You may see others as the villain in your story. They may be doing the wrong things or may not care about others. Or are they?

Could it appear they’re doing something wrong when they’re not? In reality, it is you who is doing wrong?

Be careful about how you judge others. You might be missing the biggest villain of your story.

15. Jean Grey:

No, my emotions make me strong.

Vuk had tried to take the Phoenix Force from Jean Grey. Jean eventually fights back and doesn’t allow Vuk to possess the cosmic power.

During this struggle, Vuk told Jean her emotions made her weak. Jean knew this wasn’t true. Jean knew emotions can make people strong.

You may try to hold back your emotions because you feel like your emotions make you weak. You’re wrong if you believe this way.

Your emotions are the most powerful tool you possess. Emotions can help you connect with your team, your customers, even your competition.

Don’t hold back your emotions. Use your emotions to connect with those you’re leading.

Question: Have you seen X-Men: Dark Phoenix? If you have, what leadership lessons did you find in the movie? If you haven’t, what Reel Leadership lessons from X-Men: Dark Phoenix that I shared resonated with you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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