Dark Phoenix: The True Story | NowThis Nerd

When it comes to the X-Men, nothing has defined Marvel’s uncanny mutants more than the Phoenix Saga Which is weird, considering it doesn’t really touch on the themes that really define the team

It’s not a parable about prejudice, or an ideological battle between Magneto and Charles Xavier Instead, it’s a cosmic clash between an alien empire and humankind’s most hated protectors So what inspired this epic storyline? Why did it spark such controversy? And how has it held up across its various adaptations? I’m Moose and this is The True Story of the Phoenix Saga Let’s start with its Origins Help me JEAN!!! During the X-Men’s early years, Jean Grey, AKA Marvel Girl, was more or less a standard ‘60s stereotype of a woman superhero, in the vein of the Fantastic Four’s Sue Storm She was written as the most useless member of the team, and her main plot purpose was to have Cyclops and Angel fight over her But, just like the Invisible Girl got a much-needed upgrade into the Invisible Woman, writer Chris Claremont and artist Dave Cockrum gave Jean the same makeover when the X-Men were relaunched in the ‘70s They liked the dynamic Thor brought to the Avengers, a nigh-omnipotent powerhouse who accentuated his less-gifted teammates, and they wanted to bring that same vibe to the X-Men So, in 1976, Jean Grey seemingly perished while piloting a spaceship back to Earth, succumbing to a fatal dose of radiation, only to rise from the waters reborn as the Phoenix

Now, the story was retconned to hell and back, but originally, the Phoenix was simply Jean Grey given an upgrade by the same cosmic radiation that empowered the FF, but as the story evolved, we learned that she had become one with the all-powerful Phoenix Force, and before you know, she’s kicking the butt of Galactus’ heralds, and saving all of reality with her newfound power At first, Jean actually has a pretty good handle on her new abilities, but that changes once she runs afoul of the Hellfire Club Very impressive! Based on an episode of the old ‘Avengers’ spy show, the secret society of snooty mutants and cyborgs breaks her spirit and transforms her into their Black Queen, thanks to the manipulation of Mastermind But when she witnesses Cyclops seemingly being killed in a psychic duel, she snaps, succumbs to the overwhelming power within, and unleashes the Dark Phoenix on an unsuspecting universe, You had me do evil to gain new power, but through this body I felt the thrill of that evil! Now I thirst for more! Resulting in one of comics’ most infamous Controversies As she soars through the cosmos, the Phoenix gets a wee bit peckish, so she feasts on a star to sate her hunger Unfortunately, the system was inhabited by a planet of broccoli people, and by snuffing out the sun, she effectively murdered billions of sentient beings under the protection of the mighty Shi’Ar empire

The Shi’ar swore to execute Jean for her actions, and behind the scenes, plenty of real-world people at the Marvel Bullpen were calling for her head too Claremont and artist John Byrne originally planned to have Jean cured of the Phoenix force, and return to the X-Men as if nothing had happened, but when Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter saw the pages where the broccoli people perished, he made them go back to the drawing board To Shooter, the Phoenix’s actions made her completely irredeemable, and decreed there was no way Jean Grey would ever be a hero again Frustrated, the writer said “let’s just kill her off, then” which seems like a pretty obvious solution today, especially given the extremely high mutant mortality rate, but back then, comic book deaths were still fairly sacred, and you simply didn’t kill off main characters To everyone’s surprise, Shooter agreed, It's a deal, it's a pact, she dies

Then he's like "what do you mean?" And now he starts arguing like, "we can't kill her!" and as the X-Men are locked in battle with the Imperial Guard over the final fate of the Phoenix, Jean takes her own life with an ancient weapon Her death shocked True Believers around the globe, She's gone NO! YOU DON'T SAY THAT! We gotta go back She's gone NO! No and for a few years, it seemed like Jean Grey would join the ranks of Gwen Stacy, Uncle Ben, Beeter

and other characters whose demises were deemed too significant to undo, at least, until Marvel decided to reunite the original five X-Men as X-Factor in 1985 But you couldn’t get the band back together without Marvel Girl, so how do you bring her back from the dead and absolve her of her previous act of genocide? Easy, you say it was never her in the first place Thanks to an idea that future comics legend Kurt Busiek came up with when he was still a fan in college, Marvel revealed that the real Jean Grey was asleep in a cocoon deep below San Francisco Bay the whole time, while the omnicidal entity that exterminated an entire planet, was actually the Phoenix Force impersonating the real deal

Now, these days, that’s been walked back a bit, it's a little bit wishy-washy, and honestly, the entire saga is confusing, convoluted, and crazy In other words, it’s comics, and it still holds up as one of the most amazing stories ever told in the medium But Onscreen is another story Unsurprisingly, the ‘90s ‘X-Men’ animated series absolutely nailed the Phoenix Saga I AM PHOENIX!!! Fascinating! The animation might be butt compared to ‘Batman,’ but the show consistently punched above its weight class when it came to faithfully adapting the complex comic storylines, and Phoenix is no exception

We first met the Phoenix in a whopping five-part arc, that introduced us to the Shi’Ar, the Starjammers, and a legendary scene that would live on in Internet infamy: Ahhhh! But I'm the Juggernaut, buddy! Gosh darn! The Phoenix’s origin is simplified, but otherwise its an excellent take on the storyline, and so was ‘Dark Phoenix’ Now, being a show that literally wasn’t allowed to use the word ‘kill,’ they had to make some changes The Hellfire Club was renamed ‘The Inner Circle,’ and the show goes to great pains to let us know that the system that Jean snacks on is uninhabited, Whatever it is, it just destroyed an entire star system! If those planets had been inhabited, billions of innocent beings would have been wiped out! We must destroy that creature before it feeds again! y’know, just like that suspiciously ‘under construction’ area of Metropolis in ‘Batman v Superman’ But other than some slight censorship and roster changes, it’s an outstandingly on-point adaptation, right down to Jean’s Saturday Morning S&M gear

She even makes the same sacrifice at the end, although her friends bring her back to life and live happily ever after Now, if you want to talk about an unhappy ending, in the final moments of its fourth season, ‘X-Men Evolution’ offered us a tantalizing glimpse of its take on the Phoenix, but sadly, the show was cancelled before the saga could play out ‘Wolverine and the X-Men’ managed to make it work inside it’s single, awesome season, though The series starts with a mysterious explosion levelling the X-Mansion, which Wolverine learns was caused by his beloved Jean Somehow the show managed to mix ‘Days of Future Past,’ ‘E for Extinction,’ and the ‘Phoenix Saga’ into one amazing ending, and while there’s no Shi’Ar to be seen, the Hellfire Club is still front and center, although this time it’s Emma Frost making the ultimate sacrifice

Scott Forgive me Now, as far as live action goes, I know I was excited to see how the saga would play out after Jean seemingly perished in ‘X2’ Look, I wasn’t expecting aliens and intergalactic gladiators, this is the franchise that was too chicken to put their characters in yellow spandex, after all, but I couldn’t believe how mundane they made the story seem The Phoenix is supposed to be power and song and life incarnate, but here, she’s just Jean Grey’s alternate personality with a preference for red pantsuits And when she’s not playing second fiddle to Magneto, she’s disintegrating characters who are absolutely crucial to her tale

Cyclops is the emotional core of the saga, if not the entire franchise, and not only does he get wiped out within fifteen minutes, no one seems to care that much, even Professor X is pretty blase about his surrogate son being reduced to atoms I think she killed Scott Now, granted, James Marsden was busy with his role in ‘Superman Returns,’ now the second-worst decision he’s made in his career, Uh AHHH!!! but I still couldn’t help but see it as Wolverine stealing the glory from my favorite mutant yet again Look, it was ambitious for ‘The Last Stand’ to adapt both the Phoenix Saga and Joss Whedon’s ‘Gifted’ arc in one movie, I respect it, I do, it just wrote a check it couldn’t cash, and now, writer Simon Kinberg is getting a second bite at the apple with ‘Dark Phoenix’ The movie may be the last gasp of Fox’s ‘X-Men’ franchise, and after the last two films, I’m intrigued as to how cosmic they’ll be willing to take it, but beyond that, I’m curious as to how Marvel Studios would handle it now that they’ve got the X-Men rights once more My suggestion? Don’t even make it an X-Men movie You don’t have to introduce the mutants in their own film to make them a big deal, need I remind you that Black Panther debuted in a Captain America movie? By all means, tell the Dark Phoenix Saga, but do it with the Guardians of the Galaxy, or better yet, Captain Marvel, she has plenty of history with the X-Men

By using spacefaring characters as a starting point, you can get right to the interstellar action, because the cosmic scale is precisely what makes the tale feel so big and important, otherwise, it’s just Jean Grey having a really bad day Why did you make me do that? At its heart, the Phoenix Saga isn’t really an X-Men story, it’s a superpowered space opera about the X-Men characters, their love for one another and the sacrifices they would make to keep each other safe that’s what makes it so special, and so hard for Hollywood to get right You gave us quite a scare out there How are you feeling? [b]Ink: Alter Egos Exposed https://www

youtubecom/watch?v=JIZehmfXbKA [c]Comics in Focus: Chris Claremont's X-Men https://wwwyoutubecom/watch?v=BxJSL6uqiCM [d]split

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