In X-Men: The Last Stand, the Phoenix is shown as a part of Jean's subconscious that needed to be "walled off". Is this the case in the comics as well, or is the Phoenix a separate entity that takes Jean over?

  • I don't have canon sources in front of me, but as I recall, the Phoenix force was a separate entity that took over Jean's mind for a time in the comics. It destroyed a Star for fun and that's what landed Jean in hot water with the Shi-ar
    – Paul TIKI
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 0:53
  • The issue has been the subject of multiple retcons, so there probably is not one definitive answer.
    – Buzz
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 3:09

1 Answer 1


It's an entity, and an overpowered one as is.

According to the Phoenix Force's entry on Marvel's website,

The Phoenix Force is an immortal, indestructible, and mutable manifestation of the prime universal force of life, derived from the psyches of all living beings.

Basically, the thing exists as is and does not need a physical body, but for various reasons (notably as an workaround when it can't be in its natural state due to some kind of a jinx) it can take over a human, Jean Grey being the main one, though alternate realities have her daughter Rachel Summers to be the Phoenix.

It's worth underlining that the "entity takes over" thing might not be quite what one would think: in its first appearance, the Phoenix Force didn't just pick Jean Grey because he liked redheads and boomed itself over her consciousness. Jean was dying, and they sorta made a pact where it resurrects her by duplicating her body. Jean being quite mentally strong, they happen to share it.

First appearance (Uncanny X-Men #101, 1976): Jean is reborn as Phoenix

Long story short, after Jean is taken over by a villainous psi, Phoenix lashes out and becomes Dark Phoenix. Jean dies, is resurrected, dies, is resurrected, as comics go... Phoenix takes over other hosts, but is always linked to Jean.

In the most recent Phoenix-related comic series I can think of (Phoenix Resurrection: The return of Jean Grey), Jean

was overrun by the Phoenix presenting her an other life than her own, but eventually breaks out of it thanks to the X-Men actions. She then completely lets go of the Phoenix, never to allow it to be with her again.

Until Marvel writers decide to scratch that and make an other run, of course, but that's another question.

But, Jean had indeed "phoenix traits" before encountering it.

Which would basically be why the Phoenix Force chose her as its host.

  • Jean's astral avatar was part phoenix, still from Marvel's website:

    a part of her mind manifested as a Phoenix raptor (prior from her first encounter with the actual Phoenix)

  • Her powers are pretty much infinite even without adding Phoenix Force juice to them. I guess an almighty entity wouldn't want a lower-class mutant (or even worse, a regular Homo sapiens!) as its host.
  • Also, of course, the Phoenix was around while Jean was dead. The Rachel Summers who traveled backwards in time to the main Marvel universe/timeline (pja Earth-616) at least appeared to be a host of the Phoenix for a while. And, of course, in Avengers Vs. X-Men, the Phoenix Force bonded with 5 of the X-Men, then tried to bond with Hope (the first mutant born after the "No More Mutants!" thing). Unless those have been retconned. And, I suppose, one could choose to believe that the Phoenix was really some part of Jean even then.
    – RDFozz
    Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 16:57
  • And, just to complicate matters: After the pact you mention, Jean's actual body went into stasis to heal, and the Phoenix continued Jean's life. The Phoenix duplicate of Jean was the one in the original Dark Phoenix saga (X-Men 129-137, from the late 1970s), and dies. Years later, Jean's body finished healing, and the real Jean came back. She somehow picked up the memories of the duplicate at some point, I believe. I don't believe she merged with the Phoenix Force again before she died in the 2000s, although there were occasion hints that she could or had.
    – RDFozz
    Commented Sep 12, 2018 at 17:03
  • Back in the original day, the storyline read like it was entirely Jean Grey. The Marvel Universe had solid precedent that humans had staggering potential for power (Rick Jones, the High Evolutionary) waiting for them in the evolutionary future. With her mutant psionic brain, it only made perfect sense Jean made the leap to nigh-ultimate power at this extreme critical moment. Only later did the writers take their big retcon hammer and anvil to the whole deal to create this Entity idea.
    – Blaze
    Commented Dec 30, 2018 at 13:23

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