Dark Phoenix

How to Ruin Your Relationship Faster than a Speeding…Nightcrawler?

Learn common mistakes people make in their relationships when they’re dealing with PTSD symptoms.

By Dr. Roz

Jean Grey begins to develop “incredible powers” (which I’ll refer to from here on out as PTSD symptoms) that corrupt and turn her into a Dark Phoenix. Now the X-Men will have to decide if the life of a team member is worth more than all the people living in the world.

I just so happened to be in LA the weekend of June 7 when Dark Phoenix premiered in theaters.  There was a lot hype— the bigger than life Jean Grey billboard smack dab down the center of one of the tallest buildings I’d ever seen an ad posted on. Plus, grown men were dressed up like super heroes and villains in the middle of the 89 degree day.

But maybe that was normal.

I thought “Who does that? And who’d even want to see some superhero turn evil and go on a killing spree?”

My fifteen year old nephew.

He’s the Marvel Legend watching, comic-book reading junkie who wanted to see his first 4DX movie.  And of course! the only 4DX movie that week was Dark Phoenix.

I don’t know much of anything about how X-men are supposed to act so this isn’t an actual Dark Phoenix review. I do know, for many–Dark Phoenix was a straight bust. There was so much disappointment about the flat storyline (nobody really evolved), the cheap makeup, and the cheesy dialogue and costumes.

One critic wrote, “Not an F, but this movie doesn’t deserve any enthusiasm whatsoever.”

I realize there’s also a boatload of other negative reviews from angry fans, which is probably the main reason Dark Phoenix had the biggest second weekend box office drop not just for an X-Men film, but for any superhero movie ever.

But I gotta say after leaving the theater, I luuuvvved Dark Phoenix…but for all the allegedly-wrong reasons.

First, Ororo Monroe/Storm, played by Alexandra Shipp, had the most memorable quote and was badazz ah-mazing. Plus, that ombre blonde/black chic (yessss, honey) cut was ah-ma-zinger.

Second, I wished I had a blue speeding bullet friend like Nightcrawler, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee, to bail me out of foolishness.

Third, being in a 4DX theater left me on the edge of my seat.

And last, but best of all, it reminded me of some of the couples I work with.

“Sometimes, you want to believe that people are something that they are not. By the time you realize who they are, it's too late.”
Dark Phoenix Fav Character, 2019

With that said, I’m a romantic comedy/drama/psych thriller-type therapist—I don’t know how many stars or rotten tomatoes it deserves, but I’d give Dark Phoenix four out of five stress balls for therapeutic appeal: it’s among (this year’s) best movies about PTSD and relationships.

Hiding in plain sight are nuggets of truth about how PTSD symptoms can ruin your love life faster than a speeding Nightcrawler.

Dark Phoenix: 5 Ways PTSD Ruins Relationships

A Dark Phoenix Rises Above the Ashes.

PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) is an anxiety disorder that happens after a traumatic event, sometimes life-threatening event. Although the person is a victim, they almost appear to be a survivor because they escaped physical death.  The issue is that they can look completely “normal” but there’s still an emotional and many times spiritual death that happens because PTSD shifts a person’s memories and beliefs about themselves, others, and the world.

PTSD Symptoms Cause Internal Chaos. 

In DP, Jean’s traumatic event (not gonna spoil it) led to some of the classic PTSD symptoms, including:

  • Can’t control the thoughts that popped into her head—aka intrusive thoughts.
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • A sense of not having a future—what future when the past keeps popping up?
  • Irritability that looks like anger, grief, or panic (Did you see how lava-hot DP’s face was?)
  • Traumatic amnesia—DP didn’t even remember her childhood trauma until…(not gonna spoil it)
  • Increased use of alcohol to numb the symptoms—DP was straight drinking like a sailor.
  • An exaggerated startle response (DP blew the what up after they touched her)
  • Avoidance of thoughts, feelings, conversations OR activities, places, or people associated with the trauma—this was actually forced on DP (but relevant if you’re dealing with PTSD symptoms)
  • Intense psychological distress when triggers of the original trauma are experienced—DP went off when she saw her dad again.

Trauma Affects the Partner of the Traumatized DP.

Here’s some stuff I noticed in Dark Phoenix. 

  • Increased anxiety because he didn’t know what to expect.
  • Confusion and hurt because DP is having mood swings—one minute DP’s numb. The next, she’s exploding and blowing up stuff.
  • Now DP’s partner wants to “fix” the problem, because if you fix the problem you can fix the relationship, right?

    Unfortunately, DP didn’t think she needed fixing.  The more they tried to “fix” her, the more she fought and pulled away. 


Miniature Spoiler Alert: My favorite scene was the street fight in front of her dad’s house, when the team tried to calm Jean down. Chile, please. That pissed her off and started the whole killing spree.

Dark Phoenix fight Scene

PTSD symptoms affect the relationship.

  • PTSD numbing leads DP to cut off her own feelings. Nothing else existed but anger and she didn’t know who she was or how to feel.  This jacks up any chance for a partner to know you because you don’t even know you.
  • DP switched back and forth between idealizing (You’re the perfect partner) and vilifying their partner as the enemy. When the trauma is triggered, unknowingly by the partner, he/she can be seen as a threat.


When the PTSD heat gets too hot, the DP will just leave the kitchen.

Ugh, I hated the ending of Dark Phoenix because this is exactly what happened. DP realized how her “incredible power” was hurting everybody, especially the love of her life  and she basically bounced, superhero style. Not gone give it away, okay?

If the Dark Phoenix is YOU, Here’s How to Stop Self-Sabotaging Your Love Life

Heal. There is no other way around this but to stop avoiding it (avoidance is the #1 way people try to cope with PTSD) and get you some counseling. You could do individual therapy to process the trauma BUT if you’re in a long-term committed relationship, then Gottman Couples Therapy offers couples therapy to treat the relationship that is suffering because of PTSD.  I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor and Gottman-trained to help couples heal from both trauma and affairs (little known couples counseling fact: being cheated on can cause PTSD). 

Contact me here to learn how it works.

Here’s another great resource and chance to connect with a Gottman Therapist in your area. Click here if you live outside of Mississippi.  

What key takeaways did you get from this article? Has PTSD caused issues in your past or current relationship?  Leave a comment below and let me know.

Important: please share your thoughts and ideas directly in the comments. Links to other posts, videos, etc. may be removed.

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Thank you so much for reading and sharing ideas, opinions, and aha’s with a growing community of folks who are committed to making their relationships work.  You are truly appreciated.  

Sending so much love your way,

Dr. Roz

2 Comments on Dark Phoenix: How to Ruin Your Relationship Faster than a Speeding…Nightcrawler?

    • Maria so happy to hear that you were encouraged ;)and thank you so much for your comment. Very helpful and Love you back!

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