Existing as one of the oldest cosmic beings in the Marvel Universe, the Phoenix Force stands as the Guardian of Creation and a child of the universe. Making its first appearance in Uncanny X-Men issue #101, the force took center stage in one of the most popular sagas of the X-Men comics: The Phoenix/Dark Phoenix Saga.
Given its significance to X-Men history, the Phoenix Force has repeatedly appeared in X-Men TV shows and movies, with the upcoming 2018 film X-Men: Dark Phoenix as the latest depiction. Although the Phoenix Force has an affinity for the members of the Grey family, other Marvel heroes have played host to the being often times against their will.
With a long history of hosts ranging from powerful mutants to ordinary humans, the Phoenix Force dominates its chosen body and fights for sole control of his or her actions. As the number of hosts continued to grow over the years, the presence of the Phoenix Force has been inevitably woven into the history of many characters across the multiverses. Although many villains have been subjected to being possessed by the Phoenix Force as well, we wanted to focus on the heroes of the Marvel Universe who have been affected by the cosmic being over the years.
Here are 17 Marvel Heroes Who Were Possessed By The Phoenix Force.
Storm, known for her level-headedness and strong leadership abilities, had her morals tested when she became the focus of the comic book What If…What if Storm had the Power of Phoenix? In the November 1995 issue, Storm replaced Jean Grey as the “sacrifice” to the Phoenix in order to save the X-Men.
Once combined with the cosmic being, Storm proved to be too powerful for the world, and everyone was forced to follow her vision to protect nature at all costs. To ensure her reign, she kept indigent superheroes in a frozen state, rendering them immobile but alive. Much like the retconned Phoenix Saga storyline, her actual body was residing at the bottom of the ocean, with Phoenix taking her place. Kitty Pryde impersonated the Phoenix Storm using the original Storm’s recovered body, and created chaos in her organization. They eventually defeated the Phoenix Storm and restored world order.
The What If series brought to light various scenarios that could have taken place in the Marvel Universe if circumstances had been altered. In What If…? vol 2 issue #2, readers what would happen if "the All-New All-Different X-Men had never existed?"
Without the guidance of Professor X, Nightcrawler finds himself loving a life of crime alongside Eric the Red. Focused on revenge, Nightcrawler began to stalk the X-Men on their journey to one of the most memorable scenarios in X-Men history: when Jean Grey sacrificed herself, and the Phoenix saved her life. In this situation, Nightcrawler became the hero. He learned of the X-Men’s goal of fighting for mutant’s freedom. Moved by their mission, he absorbed the Phoenix Force into his body and sacrificed himself to save the universe.
Over the years, Wolverine has suffered innumerable heartbreaks and pain due to the Phoenix Force. Because of this deep love for Jean Grey, he has watched her suffer because of the Force and has witnessed her death far too many times. However, in The Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine series, he came face-to-face with the comic being known as the Phoenix Force once again.
After using a gun containing a “Phoenix bullet” to destroy Planet Doom, Wolverine inadvertently killed himself as well. He seemed pleased to finally have found peace in his death and even heard his mother’s voice calling him in the afterlife. Spider-Man used a reactivated Cosmic Cube to resurrect him, much to his displeasure. However, the lasting effects of the bullet revealed itself later in the storyline. In the middle of a battle with an enemy, Wolverine spontaneously transformed into the Dark Phoenix!
Seasoned PlayStation gamers may recognize Spider-Phoenix from the 2001 game Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro. Though Spider-Man did not inherit the powers, he does gain other character strengths. His inability to harness these capabilities is reflected in the comic books as well.
In Spider-Man Vol. 1 issue #25, Spider-Phoenix made an appearance in an effort to take down D'Spayre and Nightmare. After the two villains had killed Marvel Girl (aka Rachel Summers), Spider-Man decided to mimic her powers and pretend to be the Spider-Phoenix. Using his “new powers,” he took down the two villains only to discover they were actually robots. In the end, Captain Britain ended up coming to Spider-Man’s rescue.
Even though technically, he did not harness the powers, he still looked pretty cool playing make-believe in that awesome costume.
13 Professor X
X-Men is notorious for having numerous retcons and recoveries that return the heroes to the Marvel Universe. In most circumstances, their returns are handled with serious storylines and situations. However, for one of Professor X’s notable “resurrections”, the writers poked fun at the events after his return.
In X-Men: Spotlight on... Starjammers Vol 1, issue #2, Professor X was enjoying a leisurely life with his lost love Lilandra as a member of Starjammers. However, in the midst of her kidnapping and subsequent rescue, he lost his life. The crew used some residual Phoenix Force energy to restore his life, ultimately creating Bald Phoenix. That’s right, he was called Bald Phoenix.
Dressed in the Dark Phoenix costume, he helped bring down Deathbird. Thanks, Hairless Firebird… Man.
12 Emma Frost
As the White Queen of the Hellfire Club, Emma Frost began her relationship with the Phoenix Force as an enemy. Their previous psychic battles have almost killed her on a few occasions. Even Jean Grey has unleashed its powers against her in a fit of jealousy when she found out Cyclops mentally cheated on her with Emma.
However, Emma's love for Scott drove her to volunteer herself to host the Phoenix in X-Men: Phoenix - Endsong issue #4. In an attempt to save Cyclops’ life, she willingly allowed the Phoenix Force to enter her body. Unfortunately, she found herself unable to control the entity and turned into the Dark Phoenix. Emma was eventually relieved of the being when Jean emerged and pulled the Phoenix Force out of her body.
11 Iron Fist
The histories of the Phoenix Force and Iron Fist have been connected for centuries within the Marvel Universe. Though their most notable connection lies in their similar costume colors and emblems, the line of Iron Fist wielders included a Phoenix Force user.
Discovered by Yu-Ti after having a prophetic dream about a red-haired girl, Fongji Wu began her training as the new Iron Fist. Just like the K'un-Lun protectors before her, Wu faced the ritual of Shou-Lao the Undying. However, she managed to manifest the powers of the Phoenix Force before her trial. After two days, she was able to defeat the dragon and emerged with the powers of two cosmic beasts. However, once completed, she left K'un-Lun for space and was never seen or heard from again.
10 Madelyn Pryor
With plans to create a superior mutant being based on Jean Grey’s and Cyclops’ DNA, Mister Sinister managed to secure a sample of her blood for experimentation. He created the clone Madelyn Pryor using the sample. The Phoenix Force, longing for another host, sensed her presence and gave life to the clone. Mister Sinister introduced her into the X-Men’s world, hoping to spark Scott’s interest in the wake of Jean Grey’s death.
As he bore a striking resemblance to his deceased love, Scott began dating and fell in love with Madelyn. However, with the Phoenix Saga retconned, Jean was re-introduced into the storyline as having been cocooned at the bottom of the ocean, essentially erasing her death.
After Pryor’s introduction in Uncanny X-Men #168, she and Scott wed and had a child together named Nathan. However, with Jean’s return, Scott abandoned his wife and child to return to Jean Grey. That’s cold-blooded, Cyclops.
9 Hope Summers
Hope Summers first appeared in X-Men issue #205 at the very heart of the Messiah Complex arc. Being the first mutant to be born after the Decimation, the hunt for her began as soon as her lifeforce was detected. Many feared Hope was either the mutant messiah or the killer of all of humanity. In regards to the Phoenix Force, some were afraid that she was the reincarnation of Jean Grey and had the ability to harness the deadly Force as well. In fact, Emma Frost was driven to attempting to murder the child in her sleep for fear of her capabilities. She demonstrated her abilities during the Avengers Vs. X-Men storyline when she not only feely absorbed the force but also released it at her own will. She is one of the few hosts that has also been bestowed the title of the “White Phoenix of the Crown.”
8 The Phoenix Five
The epic events of the Avengers vs. X-Men saga brought about the formation of the powerful team known as The Phoenix Five. When the Phoenix Force returned to Earth looking for a new host, it was predicted that teenager Hope Summers would be its target. However, in their attempt to protect Hope from this merging, five members of the X-Men were inadvertently bonded with fragments of the Phoenix Force.
The newly-born Phoenix Five consisted of Cyclops, Namor, Colossus, Emma Frost, and Magik. Although the new team worked to bring about good unto the world (ending wars, providing free food and water to all, etc) the possibility of their eventual world domination was a fear shared by all. One by one, the team was defeated, though Professor X lost his life to Dark Phoenix Cyclops.
Hope Summers finally absorbed the entity, and Scarlet Witch wished its presence away.
Despite his past experiences with not only dealing with Jean Grey as the Phoenix but his own possession as well, Cyclops was still compelled to return to the Phoenix Force for help. During the Secret Wars storyline, he planned to use the Phoenix Egg to end the Incursion.
After becoming one with the entity, he harnessed the powers to destroy the Children of Tomorrow and other forces from Earth-1610. After his battle, Scott was safely transported to the Illuminati and protected from dying when the multiverses were destroyed.
Despite his best efforts, however, he could not defeat Doom - even with the assistance of the Phoenix Force’s tremendous powers. In the end, he was overpowered and died after Doom broke his neck in Secret Wars issue #4.
6 Stepford Cuckoos
The Stepford Cuckoos, originally consisting of five psychically linked quintuplets, were students at Xavier’s Institute for Higher Learning. In New X-Men, Vol. 1 #154, three of the sisters (sisters Esme and Sophie had been killed), are the subjects of experimentation by Dr. Sublime, who harnessed a shard of the Phoenix to manipulate them.
His plan involved creating thousands of clones of the sisters to collect data on the X-Men and ultimately destroy them. Under the Phoenix’s control, the sisters resurrected their two deceased siblings and shared the power of the Phoenix with every clone. The oldest, Celeste, served as the primary host of the entity but fought to release all of her sisters from its control. However, the Phoenix Force killed all of the clones, along with Esme and Sophia.
Their final punishment resulted in the Force being permanently sealed in their hearts, removing their ability to feel emotions ever again.
5 Giraud of Haven
One of the unique aspects of the Phoenix Force has been its ability to connect with mutants that possess powerful psychic abilities. However, in a very rare instance, the Phoenix actually reached out to connect with an ordinary human being: Giraud of Haven.
Living in Earth-691, Giraud accepted the fusion with the Phoenix Force to save his planet in Guardians of the Galaxy issue #11. Under the advice of Starhawk, he tapped into his newfound abilities to transport all of the Haven citizens to a new location. His planet, on the brink of exploding from an unstable core, was then consumed by Giraud to minimize the surrounding destruction.
Still harnessing the powers of the Phoenix Force, Giraud continued to utilize his abilities as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy in later stories.
4 Quentin Quire, aka Kid Omega
Initially one of the brightest students at Xavier’s School, Quentin Quire, aka Kid Omega, utilized the powers of the Phoenix Force to further his skewed agendas. Spiraling out of control after learning he was adopted, he took on his new persona and rejected the teachings of Professor X.
After being involved in a riot at their school, Kid Omega witnessed the death of his crush and entered a catatonic state. While searching for Jean Grey, the Phoenix Force resurrected Quire in error during the X-Men: Phoenix – Endsong miniseries. With his new telekinetic tentacles and enhanced abilities, he attempted to use his powers to revive his deceased crush Sophie, one of the Stepford Cuckoos.
Upon resurrection, she chose death over being with Quire and was returned to her former state. Ouch. The Force eventually located Jean Grey and left Quire for her instead. He then returned to his previous catatonic state.
3 Amber Hunt
Premiering in the pages of Malibu Comics (a company that would eventually be acquired by Marvel), Amber Hunt enjoyed life on Earth-93060 as a typical spoiled Valley girl. After contracting an alien virus known as Theta, she developed mutant abilities that included pyrokinetics and psionic powers. As such, she became the perfect host for the Phoenix Force when it was pulled into the Ultraverse. However, the entity was severely damaged during its journey and became insane.
While the Phoenix Force in its normal state was quite challenging to control, a critically injured Phoenix was untamable. Hunt was unable to control its abilities, causing her to attack her own friends and peers. Thankfully, with the efforts of the X-Men and Foxfire, the heroes managed to separate the two from one another.
2 Rachel Grey
Born to Jean Grey and Scott Summers during the Days of Future Past arc, Rachel Grey-Summers inherited the ability to harness the Phoenix Force through her genes. As a carrier of the Grey gene, any member of the Grey family can be selected as a host for the cosmic being.
Though she initially showed signs of her connection to the Force, Rachel eventually came to possess the full strength of the entity. After committing to remembering her mother’s love through the use of her uniform and the title of Phoenix, the Phoenix Force fully bonded to her body. However, during a journey to the past Earth-616, she was rejected by her Jean Grey (still alive in this timeline) because she found Rachel to be a constant reminder of her tragic past with the Phoenix Force. Eventually, Jean overcame her initial feelings and bonded with her daughter.
1 Jean Grey
When you think about the Phoenix Force, you have no choice but to associate the cosmic being with Jean Grey automatically. Their histories have been linked since the beginning of the X-Men’s debut in the Marvel Universe and continues to be connected even to this day.
Despite numerous other hosts in the past, The Phoenix Force continually gravitates back to Jean Grey - ever since their merging in outer space in X-Men issue #101. Though the Phoenix Saga storyline has been retconned since the original publications, there is no denying that the two have been destined to be together. The pairing have recently returned in the new comic book series Phoenix Resurrection: The Return Of Jean Grey. Marvel even included variant covers of other heroes wielding the Phoenix Force.
Jean Grey remains the most significant host the Phoenix has ever bonded with.
Did we miss any characters who've bonded with the Phoenix Force in X-Men? Let us know in the comments!