Arguably one of the most powerful mutants in the entire Marvel universe, Jean Grey, AKA Marvel Girl, AKA Phoenix, has mostly been a selfless martyr in the past. Many of her fans love the X-Men’s first female member because of her fierce dedication to her team and willingness to put the people she loves and her sense of justice and equality ahead of her own desires. These are ironically also reasons why some Marvel fans hate Grey, complaining that she’s too good to be true.
Love Jean Grey or hate her, it cannot be denied that, despite her general squeaky clean reputation, she has been a bit of a baddie on more than a few occasions. While many of her episodes of jerkdom stem from petty love triangles, some of her worst moments were so destructive that they were difficult for even her staunchest fans to forgive. They may be few, but some are worth a lifetime of remorse: here are the 15 Times Jean Grey Was A Jerk.
15. Ping-Ponging Between Cyclops and Wolverine
For many years, Scott Summers and Jean Grey were the It Couple among the X-Men. The two were like peas and carrots, or each other’s right and left hands. Sure, they had their tiffs, and Scott sure earned enough of Jean’s wrath between lusting after Psylocke and having a psychic affair with Emma Frost, but Jean was no innocent, either. While some fans root for Jean and Scott and some prefer Jean and Wolverine, there has almost always been that “what if” component. In many cases, Grey actually acted admirably, letting the beau in question down gently, but in others, she made some big mistakes. Her palpable attraction to Logan has gone both unaddressed and addressed over the years, with confrontations, kisses, and much more physical resolution. At one point, Wolverine himself even takes the higher road, refusing to sleep with her while she is married to Cyclops.
There are plenty of other love triangle moments in Grey’s history. Fans who’ve stuck with the series since the beginning may recall, for example, that really perplexing date that she had with Angel, during which she wanted Cyclops to come along. Love may or may not be a battlefield, but it can have some frustrating moments for all sexes. Even though Grey has almost always been drawn back to Summers, she has had plenty of moments of uncertainty–which, of course, is not what made them moments of jerkdom. It was her actions leading on multiple men while she made up her mind that were the issue.
14. Refusing Scott’s Proposals
Turning down your boyfriend’s proposal for marriage is your prerogative, but when it’s for a reason this stupid, it’s not very fair to your main squeeze. In one universe, Grey declined Scott’s offer of marriage before he even requested it, reminding him that she already knew he was going to ask! Ouch. On occasion, she promises to not read people’s thoughts, so this is not only a spoiler alert that’s her own doing, but also intrusive to her boyfriend. It almost becomes a punchline in the X-verse: how will Jean Grey turn Scott Summers down this week? Some of her reasons, of course, were valid–such as her struggle with painful memories of Summers with Madelyne Pryor and the Phoenix.
She later asks him herself, of course, and he does agree to marry her. Fans have to wonder, though, if she turned him down that many times, did she really want to marry him… deep down? Given their history and where they currently stand in the X-verse, perhaps she would have had a happier life with Beast, Wolverine, Angel, or any of her admirers. Fans did catch a glimpse at her possible life with Logan during the Age of Apocalypse series, and she still suffered a terrible fate in that saga.
13. Torturing the White Queen
After Emma Frost and Scott Summers demonstrated that psychic affairs are possible, Jean Grey went psychic on Emma herself by forcing her to endure her most painful memories with the power of the Phoenix force. Granted, she does this after Emma taunts her about her affair with Scott, provoking Jean–but Jean is usually far better at controlling her powers. Afterward, she made up for it by not only saving Emma when one of the creepy Stepford Three-in-One shatters her diamond form, but also acknowledging that Emma will make Jean happy, proving that she is still one of the most noble, self-sacrificing characters ever written yet again. Emma later shows her respect by kissing Scott on Jean’s grave. Classy!
This was not the first time Grey’s actions adversely affected one of Scott’s exes, either. Plenty of people called her a homewrecker when Summers dropped Madelyne Pryor, his first wife and clone of Jean, and their son Nathan Summers (later to be known as Cable) to return to her, but ultimately it was Scott’s decision that led to the demise of their relationship. Madelyne later took on the supervillain persona the Goblin Queen, among other retcon roles. Jean did accept Nathan as her own son after Madelyne’s death, and some claim that he is technically her son anyway since Madelyne was her clone.
12. Capturing the X-Men
Joining up with the Hellfire Club was not originally Jean Grey’s fault. In fact, it was because of Mastermind and company that the Dark Phoenix emerged in the first place. Under the illusion that she was her ancestor Lady Grey, Jean accepted that she was the Black Queen of the Club, a role that led to her breaking down the walls she had constructed to live with the Phoenix Force.
No one would ever argue that Jean Grey would assist in the kidnapping of the X-Men under her own volition, but in this case she seemed to relish in her role as accomplice until Mastermind’s psychic duel with her beloved Cyclops broke the last barrier she had erected between herself the the Force. While she is enraged at Mastermind for controlling her and immediately seeks revenge upon him, she also distances herself from the X-Men, dubbing herself Dark Phoenix as she flies off to another galaxy. These actions, of course, create a domino effect of even worse things to come.
11. Player Revenge
During the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance game, players are given the option to rescue Jean Grey or Nightcrawler from Mephisto’s minions. Why the two perfectly capable X-Men end up captured and in separate cages is beyond plenty of people, but it’s just a game. Whichever non-playable character is not rescyed becomes a boss in Murderworld, only to regain memory function later and become a martyr for the sake of the team.
Perhaps Jean Grey is tired of her martyr role, or maybe the game makers just thought it would be fun to unleash the Phoenix Force as a surprise on players, but when she is not chosen to survive by the game’s players, she resurrects only to enact her revenge on them, Dark Phoenix style. It is not pretty. To say that the Phoenix is acting like a jerk in this scenario is an understatement. That said, if the players choose her, Professor X dies as a result, so the world suffers either way. Grey has six abilities that make her pretty handy in the game anyway, like resurrection and fiery strikes.
10. Rejecting Rachel Summers
Most teen girls crave the approval of their moms, even if they won’t admit to it. One sarcastic comment from Mom can send them into a dark mood that lasts for hours. Imagine how Rachel Summers felt, then, when her own mother rejected her. Jean has been indifferent, reluctant to accept Rachel, and even down right ignored her in various retcons of their family story. During Rachel’s time with Excalibur, for example, Grey refused to grant her daughter’s requests for a relationship.
Granted, Grey was still raw from her experiences with the Phoenix, and meeting both the future version of the Force along with her future daughter would be a bit jarring, to say the least. Grey was also worried about the dystopian future that Rachel has always represented, and for good reason, given that she gets to see it come to pass in All New X-Men. Rejecting poor Rachel was cold, but the two eventually bonded when Grey came around.
9. Getting Snotty
“Teen Jean” from All New X-Men is a character people love to hate. Gone are the days when Jean Grey was unsure about her powers, bowing to Professor X to tell her what to do. Teen Jean is confident, self-assured, and even unwilling to go back into the past where she knows she belongs in favor of her own self interests. Some fans despise this new Jean, claiming that she is bossy, arrogant and obnoxious. Others are enjoying this new version of an old favorite, saying that she is finally demonstrating what it is like to be a mutant teen claiming her space among the team.
While refusing to return to the past, Jean tells the team, “We have to right things here. We have to do what we set out to do. We put things the way they’re supposed to be, and then we go back. Xavier can mind-wipe the hell out of us. Hell, I’ll do it myself.” Teen Jean combines the best qualities of a leader with some of the most jerktastic movies of an egocentric (and normal) teenager, making her one character plenty of fans feel ambivalent about. Though plenty of fans feel the same way about her Future Jean counterpart too.
8. Love Triangle, Redux
Early on in the All New X-Men series, teen Jean Grey decided that Scott Summers was not the man for her after discovering that he was partly responsible for their dystopian future and the death of Professor X. Given that she already knew that part of their history included marriage, the situation became even more awkward when she read Beast’s mind and discovered that Hank had always had feelings for her. After eavesdropping on Future Beast’s thoughts in one of dozens of instances where she violated her very promise not to do so, she confronted the younger version of Hank McCoy and the two shared a passionate kiss.
The kiss confuses Hank, and with good reason, given that Jean obviously still has feelings for Scott, whom she later goes to the movies with (and nearly kisses in space). Fans of Beast and Jean’s relationship rejoiced when they saw their favorite couple together again in X-Men Forever, but again, it did not last. In The Ultimate Adventure, she also kisses Miles Morales. Given that the series is ongoing, it will be interesting to see what happens between Grey and McCoy, if anything, but unfortunately for Hank, it appears as if that ship may have simply sailed.
7. Being a Big Baby
Being whiny, petulant and petty in All New X-Men is one of the things that make plenty of readers hate on Jean Grey, but in all fairness, she is simply being a teenager. When Emma Frost tries to train her by having her fight The Blob, taking away her powers in the process, Grey complains about everything from the dinginess of their location to Frost’s controversial training ideas. She also refuses to entertain the idea that Professor X may have subdued her powers without telling her for his own purposes. When Xorn, Future Beast, and other future X-Men travel to warn her to return to her own time, she also stubbornly runs away with Cyclops to avoid her problems. She also controls peoples’ minds with no shame as a teenager, which her teammates repeatedly caution her to avoid doing.
Teen Jean has to bear the knowledge of her entire past and future while still existing in teenage form, so no matter how whiny and childish she acts, readers have to give her a bit of a break. Dealing with the memories of your lovers, divorce, many deaths and power as the greatest entity the world has ever known is going to make anyone a little snarky.
6. Forcibly Outing Bobby Drake
When Bobby Drake goes on about how hot his (female) teacher Magik is, Teen Jean pulls him aside to ask him why he puts on this front about women when he knows he is gay. When Iceman protests, she insists that she knows his secret, and that in their current time it will not be as frowned upon as it was in the past, where the team originally came from. While Drake sort-of appreciates Grey’s reassurance, he is also very annoyed with her mental intrusion, as he has a right to be.
At this point, Grey has demonstrated a growing ability to control her powers. The least she could do is tune out her teammates from their most intimate thoughts. Later when she complains to Scott about how people think perverted thoughts about her that make her uncomfortable, Cyclops retorts that getting grossed out is pretty much her own fault since she’s eavesdropping on private thoughts. While they both have a point, most people agree that Grey was a bit of a jerk for forcing Iceman to privately out himself with her.
5. Cheating With Wolverine
In most of her story lines, Grey has been able to control her lustful feelings for Logan–or, at least, to not act on them while attached to someone else. The two have had chemistry for years, and many fans root for them, enjoying moments when they finally are able to be a couple. That said, there are moments when even fans have to shake their heads.
When Cyclops came back from being possessed (and believed to be dead) by Apocalypse in New X-Men, Jean turned to Logan for comfort in the first steps toward ending her marriage to Scott. Although Scott had cheated on her with Emma Frost before, Jean Grey fans expect much more from their favorite redhead. Ending the marriage should have come before she went after Logan (no matter that their relationship did not last in this universe anyway), and while people make mistakes, this was one that made some fans actually dislike the character.
4. Swapping Wolverine and Spiderman’s Minds
One of the most WTF! moments to every grace the page of any comic, X-Men or not, was the time in Ultimate Spider-Man #67 when Jean Grey decided to enact a little payback on Logan for hitting on her. While Grey had every right to expect Wolverine to cease and desist when she firmly told him no, she did not have the right to send him after another unknowing person in the Marvel universe, which is exactly what she did.
Surely when Grey switched the minds of Peter Parker and Wolverine for a day, she pictured him having to attend school and live a life that he would hate–not defiling Mary Jane Watson, who became intimate with Logan without knowing it was him in Parker’s body. Not only did MJ call Wolverine (as Parker) a big jerk, but she also asked him, “That thing you tried to do this morning, can we not do that till we’re older?” Wolverine is in the wrong here more than anyone, given that he attempted to rape a teen girl as soon as he saw the chance, but Grey swapped his mind with Parker’s in the first place, violating both him and Parker, as well as putting anyone they both came into contact with at risk.
3. Killing Cyclops
While plenty of fans enjoyed the original X-Men film trilogy, many others wanted to erase much of it–if not all of it–from memory immediately. Many fans believed that the X-Men movies simply came out too fast; had they post-dated the Avengers films, they might have been made much more carefully. X-Men fans obviously took enormous umbrage at the death of Cyclops at the hands of Dark Phoenix in X-Men: The Last Stand.
Not only did the Dark Phoenix saga completely go off the rails between Magneto, the lack of genocide (more about that later), and zero Hellfire Club involvement, but it involved her murdering the love of her life, Scott Summers. Scott’s death was so casual, unaddressed, and early on in the film that it was almost like an afterthought. While Scott did seem to be dead in the actual Phoenix comic book saga, he was there for the end of it all, when Phoenix disintegrates herself as a sacrifice to save humanity and atone for what she had done. It’s a good thing that X-Men: Days of Future Past gave the X-Men films a clean slate upon which to fix this mess.
2. Killing Professor X
If film-Jean’s as Dark Phoenix murdering her beau wasn’t not bad enough, killing off Professor X was the last straw. While Cyclops actually kills the professor during his time as part of the Phoenix Five, Jean Grey as the Phoenix never truly killed him–until she did on screen.
Seeing Professor Charles Xavier blow up into a billion pieces outraged X-Men fans everywhere. That was to be Grey’s own fate at her own hand, not what happened to her beloved mentor. Seeing Wolverine subsequently kill her also enraged fans–not because Wolverine never kills Grey in the comic, but because he sure didn’t do so in the Phoenix Saga. What should have been her and Scott’s final tearful moment as she took her own life became a blockbuster scene of heroism on Wolverine’s part instead, taking away Grey’s own autonomy and power in that final decision. Still, destroying Xavier made movie-Jean a giant jerk in the eyes of most people.
1. Wiping Out a Planet
Genocide and Jean Grey go together like planetary consumption and the Phoenix Force. Alone, Grey would never have devoured an entire star, destroying masses of people in the process. With the Dark Phoenix inside her, however, she did just that, resulting in a crime so heinous that she took her own life to atone for it.
What is perhaps the most disturbing is that no one seems to be able to differentiate just how much of Grey’s actions were due to the Phoenix Force and how much were already in the deepest recesses of her own desires. Comic creators have argued over this conundrum for years, deciding whether or not the Phoenix completely possessed Grey or merely (and heavily) nudged her into the direction of power and corruption. In Endsong, Jean Grey demonstrated some insight and self-awareness in a fateful scene during which Logan had to kill her over and over again to weaken the Dark Phoenix. “I’m always Jean. And I’m always the Phoenix. I died. I scattered in a trillion directions. And then started to pull together again, outside the White Hot Room. But I’m starting to see now. Parts of me… Parts of me never came home.” While Grey has always been able to find a way to overpower the darkness inside her somehow, the answer may never be a clear one.