X-Men: Dark Phoenix may be pretty far from the best mutant-centric movie the franchise has to offer–but that doesn’t mean it didn’t sneak a small handful of extremely worthwhile moments into the mix before fizzling out like a bird-shaped firework in the stratosphere. One of the movie’s most non-sequitur scenes just so happened to feature the live-action debut of a mutant that fans have been waiting for for years. If you haven’t seen Dark Phoenix yet and want to remain completely unspoiled, stop now. We’re going to dig into some minor spoilers.
Shortly after the team’s return from their ill-fated mission to rescue the Space Shuttle Endeavor and Jean’s miraculous (but also ill-fated) recovery from the brink of death, the students and X-Men of Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters throw a bonfire party in the woods featuring some pretty high profile entertainment. Or, well, high profile entertainment if you’re up on your X-Men mythology. The live performer for the party is none other than Alison Blaire, aka Dazzler herself. She’s never named in the scene, but her iconic light-and-music based powers, as well as her classic costume, are instantly recognizable. Thankfully, she is named in the credits, which reveal the character is played by The Orville’s Halston Sage.
X-fans have been clamoring for a live-action Dazzler for what feels like decades for obvious reasons. Not only are her powers, the ability to transform soundwaves into light waves, just flat out charming, but her public persona also puts her in an interesting position for mutant-kind. She’s a pop star, and a pretty famous one at that–though her status tends to fluctuate from incarnation to incarnation. Introduced in 1980, Dazzler got her start as a disco phenom–and not by accident. She was commissioned by an actual record company as a cross-platform promotional tool in the late 70s, meaning the intent was to actually make a comic book character that would have a real-world analog who could go on to star in movies and TV shows. Bo Derek served as the inspiration for the design and was originally the actor pegged to take on the role.
Obviously, that didn’t exactly pan out as planned, but the comic book version of Dazzler was introduced nonetheless, complete with her disco-fabulous white, bell-bottomed jumpsuit and roller skates.
Despite never actually becoming the multimedia icon she had been designed to be, Dazzler went on to almost immediately become a fan favorite X-Man and cult classic Marvel character even outside of the X-umbrella. As time went on, she transformed from a disco star to a techno/trance star, to a pop star, and virtually everything in between–all while occasionally hitting pause on her musical career to help save the world and get caught up in all the soap opera flavored day-to-day of mutant life.
While “turning sound into a light show” may not sound like the coolest or more useful mutant ability, Dazzler is actually surprisingly powerful. With effort and focus, she can craft human-like holograms, focus energy into deadly lasers, even fly by refracting “light energy” in the correct way. Her eyes are also inherently polarized, meaning she never has to use sunglasses which might actually be the most utilitarian mutation ever.
Dazzler’s cameo is, ultimately, a bittersweet moment for fans who have waited so long to see her in live action. While it’s certainly a welcome development for her to appear in full-on Dazzler regalia, disco-inspired suit and all, given Dark Phoenix’s status as the final chapter of Fox’s X-franchise, it’s extremely unlikely that it will have any impact on future X-films under the MCU umbrella. However, all is not lost: The Hulu animated project, Tigra and Dazzler Show, is still set for release as well as the animated team-up show, The Offenders, which includes Dazzler on its roster. Sure, these projects may not be live-action–but hey, they’re a start, right?