Most casual fans of the “X-Men” movies and cartoons may think of the Phoenix Force as a representation of Jean Grey’s full power potential, but as readers of the comics will know, it’s actually a powerful cosmic force that a variety of characters have wielded throughout Marvel Comics continuity in several comic book series.
The origin of the Phoenix Force is rather ambiguous, but it has often been referred to as a primal force of the universe and something that is integral to the destruction and rebirth of planets and entire species. The force has been shown to have a form of sentience on more than one occasion and its influence over its many hosts can range from total possession to simply lending small degrees of Phoenix Force power. Here are more than 15+ Phoenix Force hosts other than Jean Grey.
Peter Parker appeared to gain possession of the Phoenix Force in “Spider-Man” #25 (2002, Terry Kavanagh, Chris Marrinan) during a battle between the superhero team, Excalibur, and the villain Arcade. In the conflict, Arcade had trapped the team and Spider-Man in one of his famous Murderworlds (not too different from the concept used in the Hunger games movies) and replaced several members of Excalibur with androids which created the illusion of main characters, such as Phoenix host Rachael Grey, being killed off in a rather dramatic fashion.
Spider-Man soon discovered the deception, however, and used the same android tech to create the illusion of himself gaining the powers of the Phoenix. He never actually gained any new powers or abilities, but the bluff was enough to end the conflict once and for all. Despite not being a true Phoenix host, Spider-Phoenix was featured as an alternate costume in the PlayStation video game, “Spider-man 2: Enter Electro,” where it was given a proper introduction by Stan Lee, as well as true Phoenix powers, such as invulnerability.
14 RACHEL GREY
Rachel Summers is the daughter of Scott Summers and Jean Grey Summers in an alternate future timeline referred to as Earth-811. She first appeared way back in 1981 in the famous “Days of Future Past” storyline in “Uncanny X-Men” #141 and #142 (Chris Claremont, John Byrne) and has been a fairly constant presence in the X-Men comic books ever since.
In addition to inheriting both telepathy and telekinesis from her mother, Rachel was also born with a natural connection to the Phoenix Force. For most of her appearances in the comics, Rachel exhibited control of the cosmic force, which she used to enhance her own telepathy, manipulate matter and connect to the cosmos at large. She recently lost the majority of this power, however, during the “X-Men Kingbreaker” miniseries (Christopher Yost, Dustin Weaver) when it appeared as if the spirit of Jean Grey was reclaiming the energy as part of some sort of cosmic balance.
13 AMBER HUNT
Amber Hunt was a character in the Ultraverse universe, which appeared under Marvel Comics’ Malibu imprint. She spent time with the universe-hopping X-Men team, Exiles, and was a main member of the Ultraverse superhero team, Ultraforce. The character started off as a normal high school student but was quickly given superpowers once infected by the Theta Virus. Her main power-set contained the ability to fly and project fire from her body, not too dissimilar from the Fantastic Four’s Human Torch. In the “Break-Thru” miniseries, Amber was given powers relating to radiation and the light spectrum.
Despite having no telepathic or telekinetic powers to speak of, Amber Hunt was still chosen by the Phoenix Force as a host when it visited the Ultraverse from the main Marvel Universe in “Phoenix Resurrection: Genesis.” Amber’s time as a Phoenix host was very brief and appeared to be more of a way to protect the Phoenix and the planet Earth rather than being a long-term host option such as Jean Grey.
12 EMMA FROST
Emma Frost actually had a rather long history with the Phoenix Force before becoming a host herself. She was instrumental in the corruption of Jean Grey, as the Hellfire Club’s White Queen, which led to the appearance of Dark Phoenix. She also eventually dated Jean Grey’s husband, Scott Summers, and was with him during Jean’s second Phoenix awakening and untimely death in Grant Morrison’s run on “New X-Men.”
Emma was briefly possessed by the Phoenix in “Phoenix Endsong” and would also play an important role in the Phoenix’s next appearance in the “Phoenix Warsong” miniseries, which featured the cosmic force possessing several of her students, the Stepford Cuckoos, and ultimately destroying thousands of clones which had been made from her own DNA. Years later, in “Avengers vs X-Men,” Emma Frost became a Phoenix host once more; however, this was more of a result of the Phoenix raptor being blasted with a device designed by Beast and wasn’t a conscious choice made by the force itself. Emma Frost was eventually freed of the Phoenix Force after Cyclops, who was also a host at the time and had been driven mad by the power, forcibly removed it from her.
11 STEPFORD CUCKOOS
The Stepford Cuckoos were a group of teenage girls that were introduced in Grant Morrison’s run on “New X-Men.” Originally, there were five Cuckoos, but over the course of the series, two of the members -- Sophie and Esme -- were killed, leaving Celeste, Phoebe and Mindee. These three surviving girls would go on to become major supporting characters in other X-Men comic book series and are frequently used in storylines to this day.
The Stepford Cuckoos were powerful telepaths in their own right and were eventually revealed to be clones of Emma Frost in “Phoenix Warsong.” In the same miniseries, the three surviving Cuckoos were possessed by the returning Phoenix Force, which they subsequently used to resurrect Sophie and Esme. The Phoenix Force had come to Earth to destroy the thousands of other clones of Emma, however, and once the dust was settled, only the three original Cuckoos were left alive.
10 QUENTIN QUIRE
Quentin Quire was a student at the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning and was first introduced to readers in “New X-Men” #134 (Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely). The character was quickly established as being one of the most-powerful telepaths at the school and has been revealed to be a future host for the Phoenix Force in at least two instances.
The first glimpse at Quentin Quire as a Phoenix Host can be seen in “New X-Men” #154, when he briefly appeared in the future in the White Hot Room, a mystical location where the souls of previous Phoenix Force hosts exist. The second was during the “Battle of the Atom” storyline, which featured a Phoenix Force-wielding version of Quentin travelling to the present. This version of the character was not only more confident than the present version but was also significantly more cheerful about life in general. Present-day Quentin has yet to possess the Phoenix Force; however, it did show an interest in him during “Phoenix Endsong.”
9 COLOSSUS AND MAGIK
This Russian brother and sister mutant duo have been associated with the X-Men or one of their satellite teams for several decades now. Colossus has a mutant ability that allows him to turn his skin to metal, while his sister Magik has the power to teleport and can also control vast amounts of magical energy due to living several years in the paranormal dimension, Limbo.
Colossus and Magik were among the five mutants to accidentally become hosts for the Phoenix Force in “Avengers vs X-Men,” due to an unexpected reaction to a weapon designed by Beast that blasted the cosmic bird on the Moon. After initially using their portions of the Phoenix Force for good, the siblings were eventually corrupted by the power and quickly turned on each other after some prodding by Spider-Man. Their portions of the Phoenix Force were then distributed among the remaining members of the “Phoenix Five.”
8 GIRAUD OF NEW HAVEN
Giraud is a little-known character from the classic “Guardians of the Galaxy” comic books series and first appeared in the series' ninth issue, by Jim Valentino. Giraud existed in a possible 31st Century future where mutants were almost extinct with only nine remaining in existence. Thought to be purely human when he was first introduced, it was later revealed that Giraud had latent psi-abilities. It was these abilities that eventually attracted the Phoenix Force to him.
Giraud was introduced to the Phoenix by Starhawk, who had located the powerful force within a volcano. The Phoenix accepted him as a host and quickly used its power to feed on Haven’s planet core. While this destroyed the planet, Giraud also used the Phoenix’s many powers to teleport all of the inhabitants to safety. After this incident, Giraud implemented psychic inhibitors to help control the Phoenix, but these were later removed and he regained access to the Phoenix’s powers once again.
A member of the Shi’ar alien race was once a host to the Phoenix Force many centuries before the present time period in the Marvel Universe. Named Rook’shir, this Shi’ar host was unusual in that he controlled the Phoenix Force through a sword appropriately named the Blade of the Phoenix. He was eventually defeated by the Imperial Guard but a part of the Phoenix remained in the sword and it was discovered that those in his bloodline could also wield it.
Korvus is the present sole survivor of the Rook’shir bloodline. He was initially given the Blade of the Phoenix and sent on a mission to kill Rachel Grey, but the two connected through their Phoenix powers and soon began a romantic relationship. The romance was short-lived, however, and during the “X-Men Kingbreaker” miniseries (Christopher Yost, Dustin Weaver), the fragment of the Phoenix in the sword left the blade. Rachel lost her connection to the Phoenix as well. It’s speculated that this was due to the spirit of Jean Grey reclaiming all of the scattered remnants of Phoenix Force to help make it whole again.
6 IRON FIST (FONGJI)
In “New Avengers Vol. 2” #25 (Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Deodato, Will Conrad), which took place in the “Avengers vs X-Men” crossover event, it was revealed that a previous Iron Fist named Fongji had once become a host for the Phoenix Force many centuries ago. Not much is known about Fongji except that there had been a prophecy about her arrival, which foretold a red-haired girl who would become the next Iron Fist and save the world from the Phoenix.
Interestingly, the girl’s father is said to be a man from the outside world; i.e., not from within the mystical city of K'un-Lun. This, in addition to the red hair and Phoenix connection, could suggest that Fongji is somehow related to the Grey family tree, but there has been no confirmation one way or the other. After becoming the Iron Fist and saving the world from the Phoenix, her existence was kept a secret and was only revealed to others when the Earth was threatened by the Phoenix once again.
Namor is one of Marvel’s oldest characters, having debuted way back in 1939 in “Marvel Comics” #1. The character is a rather unique one as he is half Atlantean and half human, while also being a mutant, which grants him strength stronger than that of the average Atlantean, as well as the power of flight. While not canonically the first mutant in Marvel continuity (Apocalypse and several other mutants appeared before he did in the timeline), he was the first one that appeared in print.
Namor become a host for the Phoenix Force during the “Avengers vs X-Men” crossover event when a device created by Beast backfired when fired at the Phoenix, splitting its energies into five distinct parts. These different shards of the Phoenix immediately grabbed onto the five nearest individuals, one of whom was Namor. Namor soon become corrupted by the Phoenix Force and attacked Wakanda. The Avengers in turn attacked, expelling the Phoenix from him.
Nightcrawler is one of the more visually distinct X-Men characters, with his blue fur, devil tail and, of course, his ability to teleport in a "bamf" of smoke; he also remains one of the most interesting, thanks to his endearing personality and various complicated relationships (we're looking at you, Mystique). While Nightcrawler’s never really had an association with the Phoenix Force in the main 616 Marvel Universe, an alternate reality version of him once did in the now-cancelled “What If” comic books series.
This happened in “What If” Vol.2 #23 “What If... The All-New All-Different X-Men Had Never Existed,” which told the story of a world where the second generation of X-Men were never formed. Because of this, Nightcrawler never joined the X-Men and there were very few people who could stop the arrival of the Phoenix Force. Nightcrawler eventually became the host himself, evolved into Dark Phoenix, and then sacrificed himself to save the planet.
3 MADELYNE PRIOR
Madelyne Prior was a clone of Jean Grey created by Mister Sinister as part of a selective breeding experiment he wanted to conduct with Scott Summers and the deceased Jean Grey. While she never gained as much control of the Phoenix Force as the original Jean Grey did, the force did choose her after Jean's death and was the very reason she gained consciousness in Mister Sinister’s lab. This shard of the Phoenix appeared to offer no more advantages than the initial activation however Madelyne did inherit Jean’s telepathy and telekinesis mutant powers and also obtained a variety of Asgardian magic abilities that allowed her to heal others. Eventually, her powers evolved to the point where she could teleport and even warp reality.
Years after the original Madelyne Prior’s appearance and eventual death, Mister Sinister created six more versions of the character to help contain the Phoenix Force in “Avengers vs X-Men.” They contained no will or soul of their own however they were able to consume some of the Phoenix’s power before the cosmic force destroyed them all.
2 HOPE SUMMERS
Hope was the first mutant born on Earth after Scarlet Witch uttered the words “No more mutants.” As such, she drew the attention of many individuals and was subsequently taken with Cable into the future for her own protection. While not having a direct genetic link to Jean Grey or Scott Summers (she was named after Cable’s wife), she still bears a remarkable resemblance to Jean with her red hair and possesses an innate connection to the Phoenix Force itself.
It’s eventually revealed that Hope was born to be the new host for the Phoenix; and yet, as soon as the fiery bird is detected travelling to Earth, members of both the Avengers and X-Men attempt to prevent her from making contact with it. Instead, events take a turn for the worse and Magik, Colossus, Namor, Emma Frost and Cyclops are possessed by the Phoenix. The Phoenix Force is gradually removed from each of these characters and Hope finally became the host she was destined to be. She uses the Phoenix to restore the mutant race and then seemingly discards the power completely.
After suffering through numerous Phoenix encounters over the years, Cyclops finally became a host of the powerful cosmic force himself in the “Avengers vs X-Men” miniseries. His time as a host wasn’t a decision made by the Phoenix Force, however, and appeared to be more of an unintended side-effect caused by a weapon designed by Beast. Magik, Namor, Colossus and Emma Frost also became hosts when Cyclops did, but he was the last one standing. The Phoenix corruption eventually causes him to transform into Dark Phoenix and, after murdering Charles Xavier, is eventually helped by the spirit of Jean Grey, who inspires him to let go of the power.
Cyclops became a Phoenix host a second time after obtaining a Phoenix Egg. Before the incursions of the main 616 and Ultimate 1610 universes in the lead-up to “Secret Wars,” Cyclops used the egg to release the Phoenix Force and managed to retain all of the powers after the apparent end of the multiverse. Despite this, Cyclops, along with the Phoenix Force, were killed by Doctor Doom, who had obtained the powers of the Beyonders.
Did we miss any Phoenix hosts? Which one was your favorite? Let us know in the comments!