Jessica Chastain's 'Dark Phoenix' Character Explained: Who Are the D'Bari?

Jessica Chastain’s villainous role in Dark Phoenix was shrouded in so much mystery that even betting websites were speculating the odds about her secret identity, but all those guesses were wrong. Who does she actually play? Where does she come from? Here’s everything X-Men fans should know.

Full spoilers follow for Dark Phoenix.

Chastain is credited as “Vuk” on IMDb.

Who the Vuk is that?

Early in Dark Phoenix, we see a handful of bright lights descend from the sky, and a bunch of creepy aliens called the D’Bari emerge, looking like a cross between Groot and the Skrulls from Captain Marvel. One of them, Vuk, kills and assumes the form of a woman in the middle of a dinner party. That’s how we get Chastain-Vuk.

Vuk and the D’Bari’s story in Dark Phoenix unfolds almost identical to Nero and the Romulans from J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot. When their planet is destroyed, Vuk leads them out into the cosmos looking for revenge. In this case, the Phoenix Force devoured the D’Bari home planet, and Vuk wants to harness that power to destroy the Earth and build a new home.

Things are quite different in the comics.

D'Bari marvel comics
The D'Bari are even more alien-looking than the Skrulls.

In Marvel Comics, the D’Bari are a long-lived race who resided peacefully within the limits of the Shi’ar Empire until Jean Grey’s Phoenix devoured their sun, killing billions. This event incites The Dark Phoenix saga on a cosmic scale, uniting the Shi’ar, Skrulls, and Kree empires against Phoenix and, by proxy, the X-Men. Vuk and the other D’Bari survivors who were offworld during the cataclysm blame humanity for the near-extinction of their race.

Dark Phoenix shuffles the order and details of these events quite a bit, showing the Phoenix Force attacking the D’Bari home planet directly rather than devouring their sun. In the comics, the D’Bari are not shapeshifters and are instead humanoid plants more like Groot. That version of Vuk uses a laser gun that turns people to stone. He does disguise himself as a human, but the method of transformation is more Scooby Doo than it is Captain Marvel. It was 1964 Marvel Comics, okay?

marvel comics vuk
Vuk sure has come a long way since Avengers vol. 1 #4 in 1964.

In an interview with Yahoo UK just last week, Professor Charles Xavier actor James McAvoy admitted that the original version of Dark Phoenix had a lot of similarities to another recent superhero movie.

“The end changed a hell of a lot,” McAvoy said of Dark Phoenix’s ending. “The finale HAD to change. There was a lot of overlap and parallels with another superhero movie that came out … a while ago.”

Now that we’ve seen Dark Phoenix, it’s clear that McAvoy is talking about Captain Marvel and the shapeshifting Skrulls that movie featured. In the original version of Dark Phoenix, the D’Bari may have been peaceful refugees looking to rebuild their home, a surprise twist just like the Skrulls in Captain Marvel. Instead, Vuk is presented as a bland villain with no real complexity. Jean straight-up kills all of the D’Bari, including Vuk.

“My character changed a lot, which is an interesting thing because I’m not playing someone from the comics,” Chastain said as part of the same interview. “So it was always everyday trying to figure out ‘Who am I? Who is the mystery that is this character?’ And then understanding with the reshoots ‘Oh, it’s changing again.’ It was a constant evolution. So yeah, my character changed.”

Back in 2018, Dark Phoenix writer-director Simon Kindberg confirmed that Chastain’s character was an alien, but that she’d be unique from anything in the comics: “I will say she’s sort of an amalgam of a couple different characters and iterations of those characters over the span of the different tellings of the Dark Phoenix story that have taken place.” That turned out to be true.

Despite being a D’Bari named Vuk, Chastain’s character winds up being nothing like what we know from the Marvel Comics source material, making Dark Phoenix unlike any other version of this familiar X-Men story.


Dark Phoenix is in theaters Friday, June 7.

Media via Marvel Comics, 20th Century Fox