Phoenix Force
The Phoenix Force. From the back cover to Classic X-Men #1. Art by John Bolton.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceThe Uncanny X-Men #101 (October 1976)
Created byChris Claremont
Dave Cockrum
In-story information
Alter egoVarious hosts
SpeciesCosmic entity
Place of originBig Bang
Team affiliationsX-Men
Hellfire Club
Galactic Guardians
Phoenix Corps
Notable aliasesPhoenix
Jean Grey
White Phoenix of the Crown
The Black Angel
Black Queen
Dark Phoenix
Child of the M'Kraan Crystal

The Phoenix Force is a fictional entity appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum, the Phoenix Force is famous for its central role in The Dark Phoenix Saga storyline, and is frequently linked to Jean Grey.

Publication history

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (March 2015)

The Phoenix first appeared in The Uncanny X-Men #101 (October 1976) in the guise of Jean Grey, and was created by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum.

Fictional character biography

The Phoenix Force is an immortal and immutable manifestation of the universal force of life and passion. The Phoenix Force is a creation of the universe that was born of the void between states of being. It is the nexus of all psionic energy of the past, present, and future in all realities of the multiverse, the Guardian of Creation and of the dangerously powerful M'Kraan Crystal.

The Phoenix Force is among the most feared beings in all of existence—it can cut, re-grow, or destroy any part of the universe. It has been described as being "the embodiment of the very passion of Creation—the spark that gave life to the Universe, the flame that will ultimately consume it."[citation needed]

During its time as a sentient and formless mass of energy, it traveled the cosmos and was worshiped by several alien races, including the Shi'ar, who named the entity Phal'kon, the "sister" of their other gods K'ythri and Sharra.[1]

According to the alien peace-keeping robot Unit, a billion years ago the alien Demon Lords of Stasis cast a spell on their planet to stop evolution. However, five powerful beings led by a female with pyrokinetic powers wage a rebellion against the Lords of Stasis. The rebellion drew the Phoenix to the planet. Although the Demon Lords fight to prevent it, the Phoenix communes with the female and with the loyalty of her disciples that helps her to control the infinite power of the Phoenix, she breaks the spell and the Demons are swept away.[2]

The Phoenix is later drawn to Earth when Firehair, a young primitive female red-haired mutant overwhelmed with despair by her friends' deaths, contemplates turning her psychic abilities on herself to commit suicide at the "Burnt Place". Attracted to Firehair's untapped raw psychic power, the Phoenix prevents the suicide, bonds with her, and seeks to use her to fulfill its intended purpose of razing planets to ashes. Consumed by vengeful rage, Firehair nearly gives in to the firebird's bloodlust to become a Dark Phoenix, but is pacified by her wolf guardian and decides to use her powers to protect those weaker than herself. Using the alias Lady Phoenix, she joins that time period's incarnation of the Avengers. Her only known fight is with an out-of-control Celestial called the Fallen.[3] During this time she and Odin share a romantic relationship that Odin considers the one time in his life when he truly felt alive.[4] It was later claimed that from their love, Thor was born,[5] but in truth, Phoenix left Odin due to his callousness, until millennia later, she arranged for Odin and Gaea to conceived a child. When Thor was born, his birth was felt by King Laufey who immediately killed him. The Phoenix resurrected him, leaving him permanently imbued with some of her power.[6]

The Rise of Dark Phoenix

At some point, the entity ends up in Shi'ar space, where it bonds with a citizen of the Empire named Rook'shir, who controls the power of the Phoenix Force in conjunction with his blade. He is ultimately overwhelmed by the Phoenix's power and becomes the first known host to succumb to the Phoenix Force's destructive impulses, going insane from the power it embodied and becoming the Dark Phoenix. Rook'shir goes on a destructive rampage through the Empire and destroys many planets in the process. He is killed by the Imperial Guard, which later becomes the first line of defense of the Shi'ar Empire. The Phoenix flees, leaving a small remnant of itself in the blade, which can only be lifted by Rook'shir's descendants. Fearing the power of the Phoenix, the Shi'ar demonizes the entity and orders the deaths or sterilizations of Rook'shir's descendants.[7]

As time passes, the entity is contacted by a mage named Feron. Feron worships the legendary Phoenix, so his daydream-like visions prompts the Phoenix to adopt the fiery bird's form. He asks the Phoenix to help him by lending its energy to project a lighthouse-like stone pillar across the multiverse. The pillar later becomes the lighthouse base for the British superhero team Excalibur. Afterwards, Necrom attacks Feron to steal the power of the Phoenix. Strengthened by the Phoenix Force, Feron is able to fight back, but Necrom steals a fraction of the Phoenix Force's essence, forcing it to flee back to space in agonized confusion.[8]

In the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century, Yu-Ti of K'un-L'un has visions of the Phoenix coming to Earth and of a red-headed Iron Fist who would confront it. In one vision, she loses control and destroys the world; in another, she tames its power. When walking the streets, Yu-Ti comes across Fongji Wu, the daughter of a woman who had ventured to the outside world and lain with a man from beyond K'un-Lun.[9] After defeating Shou-Lao and becoming the Iron Fist, Fongji confronts the Phoenix Force and becomes its host.[9] The Phoenix Force attempts to overwhelm Fongji and turn her into a Dark Phoenix, but she resists the being's control. Determining that she needed to leave Earth to prevent the possibility of losing control, Fongji ventures off into space, never to be seen again.[10]

Jean Grey

Centuries later, the Phoenix Force returns to Earth without a host when it feels the mind of a human transcend the physical realm and resonate with its energy. A young Jean Grey telepathically linked her mind to her dying friend, Annie Richardson, to keep Annie's soul from moving to the afterlife. In doing so, Jean's mind is dragged along to the "other side" with Annie. Phoenix lends its energy to break the connection, and keeps a close watch on her because it felt a kinship with the young mutant. Years later, when Jean is dying on a space shuttle, her mind calls out for help and the Phoenix Force answers and saves her, transforming Jean into the Phoenix.[11]

The Phoenix remains with the X-Men for only a short time. She prevents the complete destruction of the universe by repairing the damaged energy matrix at the core of the M'Kraan Crystal.[12] During a skirmish with Magneto, Phoenix and Beast are separated from the other X-Men, each group believing the other to have perished.[13] In Greece, Phoenix meets a man named Nikos, later revealed to be Mastermind, a mutant that can alter the perceptions of others. He plants seeds of dissent within Phoenix's fragile psyche by comparing her to a god and insisting she could do whatever she wished.[14] She encounters him again in Scotland under the guise of Jason Wyngarde, believing him to be both the work of the reality-warping mutant Proteus and the lover of one of her ancestors.[15]

After an encounter with the Hellfire Club and manipulation by Mastermind and the White Queen, the Phoenix is transformed into their Black Queen.[16] She breaks free of Mastermind's control, but transforms into Dark Phoenix. She battles the X-Men, flees to the stars, devours the energies of the D'Bari star system to satisfy her "hunger" as Dark Phoenix, annihilates the five billion inhabitants of its fourth planet, and destroys a nearby Shi'ar observatory vessel that opens fire on her before she returns to Earth. There, Dark Phoenix is defeated in psionic combat by Professor X, and Jean Grey regains control. The X-Men, along with Phoenix, are teleported to space by the Shi'ar and given a trial by combat. Just as victory seemed certain for the Imperial Guard, Jean becomes Dark Phoenix again. She apparently commits suicide on Earth's moon before Cyclops.[17]

As originally written, the Jean Grey incarnation of the Phoenix is Jean herself, having attained her ultimate potential as a psi, becoming a being of pure energy and reforming herself as Phoenix,[18] only to become slowly corrupted by the manipulation of such foes as Mastermind and Emma Frost; unable to adapt to her enormous power, Jean is driven mad.

To return Jean to the fold several years later, this storyline was retconned to reveal the existence of the cosmic Phoenix Force entity, which had created a duplicate body of Jean, believed itself to be Jean and acted in her place while the real Jean lay in a healing cocoon at the bottom of Jamaica Bay, where the Avengers and Fantastic Four discover her.[19] It allowed Jean to be revived as a member of X-Factor. The extent to which the duplicate and Jean are separate entities depends on who is writing the characters at the time: some instances portray them as inherently separate, while others demonstrate a shared consciousness.

After committing suicide, the Phoenix Force reaches the Hot White Room where it encounters a manifestation of Death and returns itself to Jean in the cocoon. Horrified by what it has done, Jean rejects it and it fuses with Jean's clone, Madelyne Pryor.[20] This portion of the Phoenix remains with Madelyne until she commits suicide while fighting Jean Grey before rejoining Jean's consciousness.[21]

Rachel Summers

Another known possessor of the Phoenix Force is Rachel Summers, Scott Summers and Jean Grey's daughter from the Days of Future Past alternate future.[22] The Phoenix Force bonds with Rachel, making her the next avatar of the Phoenix Force.[23] Rachel is one of the longest reigning avatars of the Phoenix, and while she eventually adopts the uniform, she never becomes Dark Phoenix.[24] Rachel has been referred by the entity as "The One True Phoenix".[25]

During an encounter with Galactus, Rachel Summers—completely overtaken by the Phoenix Force—battles Galactus to save a planet he was preparing to devour.[26] The Phoenix Force disrupts Galactus' feeding process and easily defeats him. Galactus accuses the Phoenix Force of hypocrisy and reveals to it that its existence in a corporeal state is sustained by robbing energy used to birth future generations. Realizing this to be true, the Phoenix vows to return to its prior existence of "touching all that is" while allowing an echo of its power to remain with Rachel's now-dominant consciousness.[27][28]

Into the Future

Returning to Earth with all her memories, Rachel manages to return to the future she had come from. While she could not change her past, she and her teammates are able to change the directives of all the Sentinels of the era to preserve all life, ending the genocide that had prevailed for years.[29] On the way back to her time, Captain Britain is lost in the timestream and Rachel is forced to switch places with him, as she does not belong in the timeline she had existed in.[30] She emerges from the timestream about 1,900 years in the future and forms the Clan Askani, which is responsible for bringing her brother Nathan to their time to fight Apocalypse. She later encounters Diamanda Nero, Apocalypse's High Councilor and viceroy. She tries overpowering him, but is left powerless after being shortly bonded to the Phoenix Force.[31]

Phoenix resurrection

As an interdimensional portal transports four villains from the 616 Marvel Universe into the Ultraverse dimension, the Phoenix Force is also pulled into the Ultraverse and critically damaged. Requiring a human host to recover, the Phoenix Force bonds with Prime then with Amber Hunt.[32] Amber, unable to control the Phoenix Force's power, attacks her friends and would have destroyed the planet if the X-Men and new Ultra hero Foxfire had not arrived, who after a long battle are able to separate the Phoenix from Amber and send the cosmic entity back to the 616 universe.[33]

Jean Grey begins to wear the same costume the Phoenix Force had worn, manifest Phoenix firebirds, and tap into its cosmic reserves several times, worrying Scott as he feared the Phoenix had returned[34] until Jean temporarily loses her powers as a result of the Psi-War.[35]

To help Psylocke after the Psi-War, Jean switches powers with her. Jean loses her telekinesis but her telepathy increases greatly. Jean begins to manifest "Phoenix raptors" that represent her telepathic powers "honed to their sharpest edge". As a result of the power switch, Jean temporarily displays a shadow astral form with a Phoenix symbol over her right eye.[36]

Jean begins manifesting the Phoenix raptor, creating a rift between her own and Scott's relationship, and the entity starts to appear as another personality within Jean, having a conversation with Professor Xavier on its role in events to come. When the X-Man Xorn reveals himself to be a traitor who claimed to be Magneto, he traps Jean and Wolverine on Asteroid M, which is drifting closer to the Sun. Rather than watch Jean die a slow painful death, Wolverine tries to kill Jean, but he awakens the Phoenix Force within her. Using her incredible powers, Phoenix/Jean returns with Logan to New York City to face "Magneto". Xorn's last act is to kill Jean with an electromagnetic pulse.[37]

Endsong and Warsong

The Phoenix Force returns to Earth during the mini-series X-Men: Phoenix – Endsong, where it resurrects Jean Grey from her grave. It is not long before she remembers what she has come for—Scott Summers. She needs to feed from the energy from his optic blasts, and, confused by her own emotions, thinks she is in love with Scott. She realizes Scott is in love with Emma Frost, former White Queen of the Hellfire Club and headmistress of the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. Through a number of incidents, Jean manages to assert herself and gain control of the Phoenix Force with emotional support from the X-Men. Jean then declares that she and the Phoenix Force are truly one entity, have transcended into the White Phoenix of the Crown, signified by a new white and gold costume.[38]

As a result of a Shi'ar attack on the Phoenix Force, the entity is in an incomplete state and Jean must search out the remaining parts of the Phoenix Force. The consequences of this were partially addressed in X-Men: Phoenix – Warsong in which a small part of the Phoenix Force joins with the Stepford Cuckoos. After nearly losing control to the Phoenix power, the Stepford Cuckoos develop a secondary mutation, where their hearts turned to diamond and they are able to imprison the piece of the Phoenix Force.[39]

End of Greys

With the failed attack on the Phoenix Force that ended with Jean Grey escaping their suicide bomb attack and returned to the White Hot Room to restore herself, the Shi'ar still want to permanently prevent the ascension of the Phoenix Force. In hopes of eliminating the possibility of a new Omega-level psionic mutant becoming a host for the Phoenix Force, the Shi'ar sent a commando unit—the Death Commandos—with the purpose of wiping out the Grey genome and killing Quentin Quire to Earth. They arrived at Rachel's family reunion site and kill all the members of the Grey family, except Rachel, who was marked, and Cable, who was not present. Afterward, at the graves of the Grey family, Rachel vows revenge on the Shi'ar and says: "I'm not my mom. I'm not the Phoenix. I'm my own woman. And by the time I'm done... they'll wish I WERE the Phoenix."[40]


In the last issue of Kingbreaker, the Phoenix abandons Rachel and Korvus during battle with Vulcan's new guard, leaving them both without its power. As it leaves Rachel mutters "Please, not now... Mom." implying that Jean is calling back the missing pieces of the Phoenix Force, and perhaps planning another resurrection. Rachel later says that it was almost like the Phoenix was never with her for she "[c]an't feel it... I can't hear it...It's like it was never there."[41]

The Sisterhood

Around the same time in San Francisco, the Red Queen and her Sisterhood attack the X-Men; first trapping Emma in a psychic barricade by Lady Mastermind. Inside what appears to be the White Hot Room, a woman resembling Jean Grey appears to Emma and helps her break free of Regan's influence with what appears to be a miniature version of the Phoenix energy raptor to let her help Logan, who has been robbed of a lock of Jean's hair that was in his possession. Madelyne uses the hair sample to locate Jean's gravesite, and then attempts to repeat a resurrection ritual with her corpse, but Cyclops had ordered Domino to substitute the body for someone else's and it causes Madelyne to either discorporate or become absorbed into the fake.[42]


During a conflict with several Predators X (genetically engineered mutant hunters), the Stepford Cuckoos are overwhelmed and knocked unconscious as the fragment of the Phoenix they captured forcefully escape from the girls' diamond hearts.[43]

Second Coming

During the final confrontation with Bastion, Hope Summers turns into what appears to be the Phoenix and blasts Bastion, who manages to grasp Hope's neck. Hope touches the ground, goes full Phoenix Force, and blasts Bastion and the dome.[44] Later at a celebratory bonfire, Emma notices the flames around Hope take the shape of the Phoenix and Emma recalls the Sisterhood attack where the woman resembling Jean freed her from Lady Mastermind's illusion.[45]

Generation Hope

While fighting the fifth so-called "Light", who was out of control, Hope attempts to take some of his powers only to exhaust herself and collapses. She is contacted by the Phoenix Force who refers to Hope as her "child", and that the other lights needed her. Hope regains consciousness and goes back to face Kenji Uedo.[46]

Age of X

The Age of X reality is created when Legion's mind reacted to Doctor Nemesis's attempt to restore its sanity.[47] In this reality, Jean Grey's Phoenix Force ability causes a tremendous amount of destruction and death in Albany.[48] Although she was presumed deceased when the Air Force bombs the area, a new phoenix shape emerges from the rubble.[49] Under the name of Revenant, it is not known whether she is Jean Grey (presumably dead after the Albany incident[48]) or a new incarnation. She joins Magneto and becomes part of the Force Warriors.[50]

When the truth about the Age of X is revealed, Legion apologizes to everyone before rewriting the universe and putting everything back the way it was. However, Revenant is also brought back to Utopia.[51] Later, as all mutants begin to regain their true memories, Revenant is revealed to be the mind of Rachel Summers given human form.[52]

Fear Itself

During the Fear Itself storyline, the Phoenix Force appears to Emma Frost. The Phoenix mocks her, saying that Scott Summers would never love her as he loved Jean Grey. It seems to be a side effect of when Emma invaded Juggernaut's mind and began feeding into Emma's fears. As the Phoenix convinces Emma that Hope is Jean reincarnated, it tells Emma that she knows what to do. Emma, in a trance-like state, takes her pillow and is about to smother her to death,[53] but Namor intervenes.[54]

Avengers vs. X-Men

The emergence of the Phoenix Five. Left and right: Namor, Emma Frost, Cyclops with Hope Summers, Colossus and Magik. Art by John Romita Jr. Avengers vs. X-Men #5 (June 2012)

During the Avengers vs. X-Men storyline, the event has the Phoenix Force returning to Earth, presumably to reclaim Hope Summers, which leads to a confrontation between the Avengers and the X-Men on how to deal with its arrival. The Avengers anticipate the destruction that the Phoenix could bring while Cyclops hopes to use the Phoenix Force to restart the mutant population.[55]

As the Phoenix Force nears Earth, the Avengers fight the X-Men on the Blue Area of the Moon with Hope caught in the middle, while Iron Man and Giant-Man prepare a disruptor weapon to kill the Phoenix Force. Iron Man pilots the weapon against the Phoenix Force, but when he uses it to blast the Phoenix Force, the entity is forcefully altered and divided into five fragments that bond with Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, Colossus and Magik. They defeat the Avengers and head back to Earth with Hope.[56] It is theorized that Scarlet Witch's spell of "No more mutants" angered the Phoenix, and to calm the entity, a new host was needed along, with five acolytes, to succeed at bringing about evolution (the acolytes were actually revealed to be the first five new mutants that have appeared around the globe since the decimation of the mutant population), and that was the reason the Phoenix came to Earth.[2]

When the Avengers defeat Namor in an attack on Wakanda, his portion of the Phoenix Force becomes divided between the other four members of the "Phoenix Five", making it harder to defeat them.[57] Spider-Man then baits Colossus and Magik into taking each other out by playing off of their fears when fighting them in a volcano, forcing their portions of the Phoenix to be divided between Emma and Cyclops.[58] When Cyclops invades the mystical city of K'un Lun, Lei Kung defends the city on the back of the immortal dragon Shou-Lao the Undying, and reveals it had defeated the Phoenix in a past incarnation. While Cyclops defeats the dragon, Hope is able to absorb its power and defeat Cyclops who then goes to seek the other remaining portion of the Phoenix Force possessed by Emma Frost.[59] Emma had been using the Phoenix Force to control all of Utopia, read the thoughts of everyone on the planet, take vengeance on anyone who had ever harmed a mutant, and dismantle all Sentinels.[60] Cyclops defeats Emma and elevates to the level of Dark Phoenix, killing Professor X in the process.[61]

In the final issue, the X-Men and the Avengers battle the Dark Phoenix, but they are losing as the Dark Phoenix starts to burn the world. As a last resort, Captain America sends in Hope and Scarlet Witch, who together manage to take down the Dark Phoenix, while Jean Grey appears within Cyclops' mind and convinces him to let go of the Phoenix Force. The Phoenix escapes Cyclops' body and enters Hope Summers'. Together, Hope and the Scarlet Witch wish away the Phoenix Force and the damage it caused, in the process activating the X-gene that allows the creation of new mutants around the world.[62]

Even with the Phoenix gone, its effects remain in various ways, with four of the former Phoenix Five—Cyclops, Emma Frost, Colossus and Magik—suffering from various problems with their powers as well as Magneto, due to his prolonged time on Utopia. Cyclops and Magneto's control over their abilities regress back to the level of control that they had possessed in their first appearances, Emma Frost retains her diamond form but only has erratic control over her telepathy,[63] and Colossus' body fluctuates between his organic and his metal parts rather than completely transforming into one or the other.[64] While Magik's powers initially appeared to have been increased to the point where she can channel the power of Limbo on her own,[65] a confrontation with Dormammu reveals that her new power is destroying Limbo each time she used it.[66] It is later revealed that the power disruptions experienced by Cyclops, Emma, Colossus, Magik and Magneto were actually the result of nano-sentinels unleashed on them by Dark Beast.[67]

Simultaneously, while spending some time in deep space, Iron Man helps defend an ancient planet from space pirates. He is later confronted by robotic police officers looking to arrest him for deicide. Before he is able to escape the planet, Iron Man realizes that the planet's people, known as the Voldi, worship the Phoenix Force and his hand in its disappearance has angered them.[68]

Time Runs Out and Secret Wars

At some point during the Time Runs Out storyline, Cyclops acquires a Phoenix Egg that he holds in reserve, hoping to use it to end the Incursions.[69]

During the Secret Wars storyline, Cyclops stands on top of the Phoenix Egg during the incursion between Earth-616 and Earth-1610. Cyclops uses it to become one with the Phoenix Force again, and uses his powers to decimate the Children of Tomorrow.[70] After the realities collapse together, the Phoenix-Cyclops was one of the few survivors to come through the Incursion with a full memory of what had come before, proclaiming that resurrection was the goal of their mission.[71] He is killed by God Emperor Doom in a subsequent confrontation.[72]

All New, All Different Marvel

It has since been revealed that thousands of years ago, the civilization of planet Maveth was able to create a bomb that, when used, scorched the entire surface of the planet, killing all life within a generation; however, a second bomb is discovered by Gamora and Kitty Pryde to be hidden in the tomb of Maveth's king, which in turn is also being sought by the Chitauri. To Kitty's surprise, the bomb is actually an artifact that contained a fragment of the Phoenix Force. To escape from the Chitauri alive, Kitty accidentally activates the bomb, which kills the Chitauri and apparently releases the fragment of the Phoenix Force into the Universe again.[73]

The deities of the Shi'ar, Sharra and K'ythri, can summon the entity at will and consider itself as their sister.[1]

Under unknown circumstances, Terrax the Tamer acquires a Phoenix Egg and stores it on his warship. Thane deceives his allies (the Champion, Starfox and Nebula) into helping him invade Terrax's warship to steal the egg.[74] After being shot and killed by Nebula, Thane opens the egg and become the new host of the Phoenix. Using his new powers, Thane defeats his own father and conquers the Black Quadrant.[75] Thane finds Thanos and fights him, causing them both to fall into the entrance to the God Quarry.[76] Inside, the Coven senses the Phoenix Force inside of Thane and separates it from him so that Thane can fight his father as the man he truly is. The Phoenix Force flies off and presumably leaves the God Quarry.[77]

Psych War

While on a solo mission against the Wrecking Crew, teenaged Jean receives a vision that the Phoenix Force is coming back to Earth.[78] Determined to not succumb to the fate that befell her adult counterpart, Jean tries to fight the future and forge her own destiny. When the Phoenix arrives, Jean, backed by a host of former Phoenix Force wielders, tries to defy destiny and stop the Phoenix before it can take her over. While she is able to wound the Phoenix with the aid of Cable's Psi-mitar, the Phoenix seems just too strong for anyone to overcome. Jean eventually pushes the cosmic force far away from her friends and allies, where a final battle can take place. It is revealed the Phoenix wants the adult Jean, but to do that it needs the younger Jean out of the way. The force floods her body with flaming psychic energy, incinerating her from the inside out, leaving only a skeleton.[79]

Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey

Strange psychic occurrences around the world, which include a large bird flaring out from the sun and an explosion on the moon, raises red flags for the X-Men, who quickly launch an investigation on these events.[80] After a string of bizarre encounters with familiar enemies, many of them considered deceased, the X-Men come to one conclusion: the Phoenix Force is back on Earth.[81] The X-Men also discover that psychics are going missing or falling ill, which prompts the team to investigate Jean Grey's grave. They find her coffin empty, and race to locate the Phoenix Force before it can find a suitable host. With the time-displaced teen Jean Grey out of the Phoenix Force's way, the cosmic entity had resurrected the present adult Jean Grey. However, she does not recall her life as a mutant and an X-Man, and terrible visions from her previous life leave Jean unsure of the differences between reality and fiction.[82] The X-Men theorize that the strange psychic occurrences are subconscious cries for help made by Jean Grey, and they must try to stop the Phoenix Force from merging with her.[83] Old Man Logan is able to make Jean Grey remember her true life and as she learns about the fate of her family and several friends. Jean faces the Phoenix Force and is finally able to convince the cosmic entity to stop bringing her back as its avatar and to let her go. Alive once again, Jean is reunited with her friends as the Phoenix Force journeys back into space.[84]

Returning to Earth

Namor, embittered by the surface world's reckless disregard for his underwater kingdom, beckons the Phoenix Force to Earth and vows to sacrifice every part of himself to reunite with the entity once more. Namor proposes that if the Phoenix helps him destroy the Avengers, then he will help it set the galaxies ablaze.[85] The Phoenix chooses Moon Knight as its new host instead, allowing him to escape Khonshu's sway, but also provides him with a tremendous amount of power that is problematic considering Moon Knight's mental instability. As the Fist of the Phoenix, Moon Knight rejects Khonshu as his master, uppercutting Khonshu with the full might of the Phoenix Force, sending him crashing back down to Earth and losing his hold over Thor's hammer Mjolnir as well. Moon Knight declares that the new age will now belong to him instead. Once on the ground, Black Panther and Ghost Rider get to work, calling back the Spirit of Vengeance, Iron Fist and Eye of Agamotto out of Khonshu's grasp. With that, the Avengers assemble and Khonshu's forces weaken. However, Moon Knight is still floating up in the atmosphere, reacting and dwelling on the new power that now lies within him. The voices in Moon Knight's head suggest that if he were to burn the world with the Phoenix Force, the parasite of humanity would be purged and he would be a hero that saved the world. At this point, Moon Knight understands that he has lost his mind. After he reignites the sun and Thor breaks free from his entrapment with his hammer, Moon Knight almost welcomes the beating he gets from Thor, and the Phoenix Force subsequently leaves him as its host.[86] Instead of returning to space, the Phoenix remains on Earth with Jean Grey deducing it is searching for a new avatar.[87]

Enter the Phoenix

Having made a nest near Avengers Mountain at the North Pole, Namor and the Defenders of the Deep attempt to take the entity by force, leading to a battle with the Avengers and Agents of Wakanda. However, the Phoenix decides to hold a contest to judge who would be worthy to become its next host. The entity selects Captain America and Doctor Doom as its first combatants, who are empowered by a small spark of the Phoenix's cosmic fire and transported to the Savage Land for their match. Realizing that the Phoenix refuses to let Rogers die for unknown reasons, Doom forfeits, refusing to play into the cosmic entity's game. As Doom is returned, Captain America is transported to the White Hot Room where he encounters other competitors chosen by the Phoenix being held in wait for the next match.[88] The Phoenix grants each competitor a vestige of its power and sends them to different parts of the world to fight each other. During the tournament, the essence of Lady Phoenix attempts to goad Black Panther into becoming the entity's next host, but is rebuked by him.[89] As the tournament continues, the remaining Avengers and their allies attempt to keep the Phoenix at bay.[90] During a confrontation with Thor, the Phoenix reveals that she is his biological mother, which confuses and enrages him.[91] At the tournament's conclusion, Echo is chosen as the Phoenix's new host. As Jean Grey telepathically consoles and congratulates Echo, three Phoenix chicks are seen next to the infant Starbrand's crib at Avengers Mountain[92]

Phoenix Song: Echo

While Maya fully accepts being the Phoenix Force's host, her first outing as the Phoenix does not go according to plan. While stopping a burglary, she loses control of her temper and burns one of the perpetrators alive before starting a fire that threatens to harm countless innocent people. Even Echo's behavior along with her attitude and body language shifts dramatically when being influenced by the Phoenix Force, prompting Elektra and Forge to confront her over the dangers of her powers. She rejects their condescending nature and admonishments but still recognizes that she needs help reigning in her powers.[93]


The following are the known hosts of the Phoenix Force:

Other characters were only possessed by the Phoenix Force during out-of-continuity tales, including Franklin Richards,[125] Nightcrawler,[126] Storm,[127] Wolverine of Earth-14412 (referred to as Old Man Phoenix),[128] King Thor of Earth-14412,[129] Cosmic Ghost Rider,[130] and Gabriel Summers[131] in separate What If... stories, as well as Cyclops in the X-Men/Teen Titans inter-company crossover.[132] Quentin Quire is revealed to be a host in the Here Comes Tomorrow storyline and in the visions of Deathlok,[133] and in the timeline of Nocturne, the Phoenix Force possesses Colossus' soulless body and reshapes it into a female form.[134]

Powers and abilities

The Phoenix Force can manipulate cosmic energies and tap into the life-force reserved for future generations, which denies their existence.[135] It can wield this energy to project beams of immense destructive force. It can migrate throughout time and space by folding its energy back into itself, causing it to collapse akin to a black hole and then reform itself upon reaching its destination. It can directly absorb offensive energy such as Cyclops' optic blasts or the energy and life-force from a foe. As it is the nexus of all psionic energy, it has mental abilities on a cosmic level, including telepathy and telekinesis.

It allows its preferred host to perform cosmic pyrokinesis, as it allows Lady Phoenix from 1,000,000 BC Avengers to summon preternatural flames that can melt supernovas.[3] For Jean Grey, it allows her to perform cosmic pyrokinesis strong enough to easily defeat Terrax, as she is in complete control of her own cosmic fire that after Terrax submits to his defeat, the fire dissipates at her will leaving him charred. She also uses the cosmic fire blast to counter Galactus.[136] In some conditions, a bit of cosmic fire can easily burn anything it comes into contact, as when it possesses young Jean Grey she unconsciously melts the equipment the medics try to put on her.[137]

The extent of the Phoenix Force's abilities has not been fully clarified. Jean Grey as The White Phoenix of the Crown is able to change the future of a universe by reaching back in time and urging Cyclops to move on with his life.[138]

Another major display of the power of the Phoenix is during the Secret Wars II. Rachel Summers seeks to kill the Beyonder, who expresses both amazement and disappointment in her. With that, the Beyonder gives Rachel full access to the power of the Phoenix as well as some of his own. With such power, Rachel is able to absorb the consciousness of every sentient mortal being in the universe.[139]

The Phoenix often seeks hosts with strong inherent psionic abilities so they can withstand its power. When the Phoenix Force enters a host, a small fragment of its power is left behind when it leaves. Even a small fragment can be stronger than an inexperienced host using the Phoenix Force's powers, such as with Rachel Summers, who has full access to the Force, but her opponent Necrom threw moons at her with only a fragment.[volume & issue needed] When bonded with a host, the Phoenix Force amplifies their abilities to incalculable levels. It can manipulate matter on a sub-atomic level and transmute elements, like turning wood to gold or stone to crystal; on a smaller scale, it can alter the molecular fabrics.[136] It can teleport others across space and open interdimensional portals to instantly access distant portions of the Universe. If an avatar of the Phoenix Force is harmed or killed, it forms an "egg" of cosmic power around them that is incubated in the White Hot Room, and hatches out completely healed. As one of the oldest cosmic beings, the Phoenix Force possesses a high level of cosmic awareness and prescience.

Cultural impact and legacy

Critical reception

Tamara Jude of Sideshow stated, "The Phoenix Force holds a significant place in the Marvel Comics and stands as the most unforgettable element of X-Men member Jean Grey’s comic book history. This character-defining arc, known as the Phoenix Saga and the Dark Phoenix Saga, has resonated with fans for decades with its compelling plot vibrant panels and shocking ending. The legacy of the Phoenix Force stretches well beyond the pages of Marvel Comics. The Dark Phoenix Saga is regarded as one of the best comic book arcs in history and has become a fan-favorite. It is also one of the favored arcs by comic book critics around the world."[140] Tristan Benns of Screen Rant referred to the Phoenix Force as "one of the X-Men’s most iconic concepts," writing, "As a staple of Marvel Comics’ X-Men franchise, the Phoenix Force has been a fan-favorite concept well known to both heroes and readers alike for decades. But as long-lived and mysterious as the Phoenix is, it’s hard for anybody to ever truly know its full story."[141]


Other versions

31st century

Giraud, the 9th Phoenix. Cover to Guardians of the Galaxy # Vol. 1 #11. Art by Jim Valentino and Bob Wiacek


In the 31st century in the Guardians of the Galaxy comics series, ordinary human Giraud of New Haven becomes a host to the Phoenix Force. As Phoenix, Giraud is a rarity for a Phoenix host, since he is an ordinary human with no active magic or psionic abilities—only those powers granted him directly by the Phoenix Force. [154] However, the Phoenix Force tells him that he has latent psi-abilities, and it was that latent psi-potential that drew it to him.[155]

X-Men: The End

The future depicted in the X-Men: The End storyline has Cassandra Nova, the host of the Phoenix. Under this power, she is responsible for the Shi'ar attacks on the X-Men, which she had manipulated in the hopes of gaining control of Jean Grey and the Phoenix Force, hoping to bond and destroy existence. After a battle with Jean and Betsy Braddock, Nova is stopped as Jean uses control of the Phoenix to bring the deceased and living X-Men to stop her. The Phoenix becomes part of the universe itself, made up resurrected X-Men.[volume & issue needed][156]

Age of Apocalypse

In the Age of Apocalypse reality, after Jean Grey's death at the hands of Havok, nuclear bombs set to destroy America are destroyed by Jean, awakened as the Phoenix (known as "Mutant Alpha", the legendary ultimate mutant). Sinister captures Phoenix and brainwashes her into becoming one of his Sinister Six. He turns Phoenix against the X-Men, displaying the personality of Dark Phoenix. Phoenix generates enough heat to nearly burn Sunfire to death, but Psylocke uses her psychic knife to bring her to her senses. Jean uses the Phoenix Force to incinerate her former master, and becomes leader of the X-Men in Magneto's absence.

Amalgam Comics

In Amalgam Comics, the Jean Grey incarnation of Phoenix with is combined with DC Comics character Fire to make Firebird in JLX #1.[157] She is brainwashed into becoming the Dark Firebird.[158] The Rachel Summers version of Phoenix was combined with Legion of Super-Heroes member Kinetix to make Phoenetix in Spider-Boy Team-Up #1.[159]

Earth X

Although the origins and history of Phoenix of the Earth-X limited series match her Earth-616 counterpart, the Phoenix Force is originally a citizen of the first universe that existed before the Big Bang that created the current universe in which Earth-9997 resides. The original universe collapsed due to the manipulations and reproduction of the Celestial race. There are a number of survivors who were referred to as "The Elders of the Universe", the Phoenix Force being one of these elders. It is later revealed that the Elders plan to reunify the fragmented universe (and all its parallel universe and alternate history counterparts) through the Realm of the Dead and with the aid of Death.[volume & issue needed]

The Phoenix Force is a part of the plot to reverse the damage the Celestials had already created. As the Elders were all nearly immortal and could not die, the Phoenix Force binds itself to Jean Grey. Unable to bind with her severely burned body, it becomes a binary being with her and assumes her identity, personality, and physical form, while sealing her charred body in a cocoon to heal. When the shuttle crashes the cocoon sinks to the bottom of Jamaica Bay, and the Phoenix Force takes Jean's place.[volume & issue needed]

The Phoenix sacrifices her life and the real Jean Grey returns. The Phoenix ended up in Death's realm in Jean's form, and is one of the few beings in this realm that are aware they are dead. She joins Mar-Vel's army to battle Death and her army. During this time, Scott Summers is able to establish a mental rapport with the Phoenix and kept informed as to the goings-on in the Realm of the Dead and Mar-Vel's Paradise.[volume & issue needed]

After the creation of Mar-Vel's Paradise, Phoenix becomes one of the Avenging Host, a group of former champions who are transmogrified by technology that belonged to the High Evolutionary. During her time as one of the Avenging Host, its members begin to doubt Mar-Vel's intentions. Their doubts in Mar-Vel's quest are strengthened when they realize that no new dead were appearing in Death's former realm. Phoenix relays this information to Scott, prompting the heroes of Earth-9997 to seek out Jude, the Entropic Man, to become the new Death. When Cap, 3-D Man, Comet Man, Benny Becksley, and Thanos learn that each "Paradise" created for the realms citizens is wish fulfillment, the Avenging Host helps free each citizen from their private "heaven" and resolve to confront Mar-Vel about his intentions.[volume & issue needed]

The host and Rick Jones are summoned and put on trial by Mar-Vel. Confronted by Mar-Vel with Captain America, Phoenix and the rest of the host are killed by the leader when Cap refuses to take Mar-Vel's power. Shortly after their death, the Kree army invades Paradise and instigates a large battle. During the combat, Reed Richards arrives from the Negative Zone and confronts Mar-Vel. During their talk, Mar-Vel resurrects the Avenging Host to help the citizens of Paradise defeat the Kree invaders. After the battle's conclusion, Phoenix's whereabouts are unknown.[volume & issue needed]

Heroes Reborn

In an alternate reality depicted in the miniseries Heroes Reborn, Maya Lopez becomes the Phoenix Force's host.[160][161][162][163]

Legacy of Fire

In X-Men: Phoenix - Legacy of Fire, the Phoenix Force is also a weapon. The Phoenix Sword is guarded and wielded by the sorceress Madelyne Pyre, who inherits the sword from her mother. When Madelyne's time as wielder of the sword is almost over, she trains her little sister, Jena, to fight and use magic. When their reality's version of Shadow King steals the Phoenix Sword, Jena tried to reclaim it before being stabbed with the sword. The powers of the Phoenix Sword pass on to the dying Jena, who becomes the Phoenix Force's first host and vanquishes Shadow King before becoming the guardian of her dimension.[164]

Marvel 1602

In Marvel 1602, Jean, who disguises herself as a man, dies of sickness on Carlos Javier's ship. As a funeral, this version of Angel carries Jean's corpse into the sky, where 1602 Cyclops burns her to ashes with his eye beams. The fire briefly forms a shape similar to the Phoenix before vanishing.[volume & issue needed]

Marvel Zombies

Phoenix appears in the Marvel Zombies 2 mini-series. The zombie survivors of the first series, who now possess the powers of Galactus, are joined by other "cosmic level" zombies, including an unnamed Dark Phoenix who appears to be Jean Grey. She is responsible, along with the others, for eating most of the sentient life in the universe. A long trip back to Earth and leads to Jean and the others regaining their sense of morality and control over their hunger. Jean is destroyed by the Hulk.[165]

Ultimate Marvel

The Phoenix being attacked by its creations. Art by Tom Raney.

In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, a young Jean Grey is placed in a mental institute after she hears voices and sees visions of an omnipotent Phoenix God. After her release, she thinks she contacted a celestial God-entity that destroyed worlds as well create life.[166]

As a result, the Hellfire Club[167] believes that it should summon the Phoenix and merge it with Jean via a ritual. While the ritual is successful, the Phoenix has different plans and kills the Hellfire Club. In the Hellfire and Brimstone arc, the Phoenix Force makes its first appearance as the entity within Jean's body. Jean gains some control over Phoenix at the expense of using dangerous amounts of its power and causing extreme destruction.

Charles Xavier is confronted by Lilandra Neramani, the leader of a religious group known as the Church of Shi'ar Enlightenment, who worship a god known as the Phoenix. As a result of their meeting, Lilandra asks to study Jean Grey to determine whether she is the embodiment of the Phoenix Force. During the examination, the Phoenix entity apparently asserts itself in an evil form but is seemingly suppressed by Professor Xavier's more experienced psychic powers and his emotional outreach to Jean Grey's normal personality.[168]

After the suppression of what seems to be the Phoenix Force, Lilandra and Charles are informed by Gerald, Lilandra's assistant, that Jean tested negative. He reveals that Jean Grey's parents have a connection to the Shi'ar Church and postulates that her subconscious has manifested a false Phoenix persona after being subjected to Phoenix Force stories in her youth. Feeling that she has lost her mind, Jean slips into a depressed state and begins seeing green creatures latched on to her body. It is then revealed that Jean tested positive as the carrier of the Phoenix Force and Gerald has covered it up under orders from his actual superiors: the Hellfire Club.[169]

Jean learns to control the powers of the Phoenix. When Apocalypse prepares to kill the time-displaced Xavier, Jean accepts the Phoenix, creating a humanoid fiery entity whose power is able to bring down the "ancient being". She alters reality completely and resets time to undo the damage done by Apocalypse and supposedly by Professor Xavier.[170]

In Ultimate X-Men/Fantastic Four Annual #1, a teenage Franklin Richards is shown to be host to the Phoenix, and a member of that timeline's X-Men.[125]

What If?

The Phoenix has been the subject of What If on a number of occasions.

X-Men: No More Humans

In X-Men: No More Humans, Raze – the future son of Wolverine and Mystique who becomes trapped in the present — attempts to force the X-Men to accept his new status quo by teleporting all humans off of Earth and summoning other mutants from worlds where they are being oppressed, with one of them being a Jean Grey who maintained her Dark Phoenix state albeit under the control of her world's Mastermind. The present Grey confronts her time-displaced counterpart and appeals to her to help the X-Men undo Raze's actions and save the displaced humans. In the process, they create a new Earth in a pocket dimension for the refugee mutants.[174]


Phoenix has appeared in the following intercompany crossovers:

In other media


The Phoenix's power displayed via Jean Grey in the X-Men animated series


Famke Janssen as Dark Phoenix in X-Men: The Last Stand

Video games


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