13The Cult Of The Shi'ar
The first X-Men and Spider-Man movies inspired a new wave of interest in Marvel Comics. The people at Marvel wanted to make the most of this influx of readers, so they created a new line of comics that more closely matched the movies of the time.
The Ultimate universe was an alternate reality version of the Marvel world, which featured new interpretations of classic characters. The first two Ultimate series were X-Men and Spider-Man, though the rest of the famous Marvel cast eventually followed suit.
Ultimate X-Men decided to abandon the idea of the Shi'ar Empire. Instead, the Shi'ar were a cult that claimed descent from alien beings. The Church of Shi'ar Enlightenment worships the Phoenix, which has manifested itself within Jean Grey.
The Shi'ar Chuch is led by Lilandra, who is an incredibly wealthy woman. She offers Charles Xavier a great deal of money in order to be able to test Jean Grey and discover whether she is truly the Phoenix.