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Alpha Flight: North of 20 Facts About the Canadian X-Men Spinoff

There has been a lot of discussion about the X-Men's cinematic future following the upcoming release of X-Men: Dark Phoenix and long-delayed The New Mutants, which could potentially mean the end of the current era of Fox's X-franchises. The ongoing sale of 20th Century Fox's film and TV properties to Disney has left the franchises' developing cinematic universe on uncertain ground, leaving a number of potential projects in the dust. Exciting prospects like X-Force oMultiple Man are in the same position as troubled productions like Gambit, leaving the larger X-universe unexplored by Fox as Disney takes the reins, though not all hope is lost.

Disney undoubtedly has plans to use the properties now under their control in the near future. Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige recently revealed his excitement over the use of "hundreds" of characters included in the deal has fans examining the various X-Men/Fantastic Four characters that we could see in the MCU. Both the X-Men and the Fantastic Four feature a large number of characters and spinoff teams, which could launch franchises of their own. A standout team that has previously been in the rumor mill for a cinematic adaptation is the Canadian team known as Alpha Flight, who first appeared in the pages of Uncanny X-Men #120. Rumors of their potential in the MCU and many a Canuck fan's dreams persist that we might see the X-Men spinoff on the big screen, and these 20 facts about the team might soon have you on Team Alpha Flight as well.

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20 THEY ARE CANADIAN

No duh, right? No one is questioning the team's country of origin, as the team sports the red and white maple leaf loud and proud. The importance comes with Alpha Flight's relationship with the federal government, which is something a lot of Canadian heroes and teams have in common. It's actually kind of rare to see Canadian vigilante heroes in comics, with iconic Canadian heroes like Wolverine, Captain Canuck, and Northguard all beginning their career working with the federal government (or equivalent comic organization). Alpha Flight's ongoing connection to the government of Canada follows this trend, though the team and government aren't always on the same path.

19 THEY WERE CREATED BY THE LEGENDARY JOHN BYRNE

The story in Uncanny X-Men #120, "Crisis in Canada," was written by Chris Claremont and John Byrne with art by Byrne as well, and looked into Wolverine's past by introducing Canada's government-sponsored superteam, Alpha Flight. The team was made up of Guardian (Initially known as Weapon Alpha, and then Vindicator) and Snowbird, who were created by Byrne prior to his professional comics work. They were joined by Shaman, Sasquatch, Northstar, and Aurora, who were all created to match up against the X-Men as Alpha Flight was attempting to forcibly bring Wolverine back to the team. Their popular debut led to a spinoff series from Byrne, which he wrote for 28 issues.

18 THE TEAM HAD A PAN-CANADIAN ROSTER

While most of Canada's earlier heroes were cut from the same cloth as most war-time heroes like Steve Rogers/Captain America, Alpha Flight was comprised of members that encompassed the whole of Canada's multicultural population. The team's full debut in Uncanny X-Men #121 featured a roster that ranged from coast-to-coast, with Victor Langkowski/Sasquatch hailing from British Columbia in the West, Michael Twoyoungmen/Shaman from the Tsuut'ina Nation in southern Alberta, Anne McKenzie(Narya)/Snowbird was from the Northwest Territories, and the French-Canadian twins Jean-Paul and Jeanne-Marie Beaubier were from Quebec in the East.

17 WOLVERINE WAS SUPPOSED TO LEAD THE TEAM

After Wolverine's enhancement and escape from the Weapon X facility that bonded adamantium to his bones and claws, he was brought back from the brink by James "Mac" Hudson and his wife Heather, who would later go on to become Guardian and Vindicator II, respectively. James, who had created a powered battlesuit, worked with Logan to create the initial version of the team known as The Flight. Wolverine led the first field team in a disastrous mission with many casualties, leaving thier plans unceratin and relationship damaged. This initial failure was ultimately part of Logan's decision to leave the team, while Hudson helped further develop his battlesuit and the Flight program with Department H.

16 ALPHA IS NOT THE ONLY FLIGHT

Following the failure of The Flight, Hudson and Department H reorganized their plans to build a superhero team for the government. Different flights were created to better train the powered candidates for field work alongside Alpha Flight, which became the highest tier. New recruits started out in Gamma Flight to help learn and develop their powers before moving on to Beta Flight, where recruits were then trained to join the main heroes of Alpha. This structure was revealed in the first issue of Alpha Flight's debut series when the team added two new members from Beta Flight - Puck and Marrina. Puck would go on to become a fan-favorite member of the team, while Marrina's fate was, unfortunately, more tragic.

15 CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER PIERRE TRUDEAU APPEARED IN ALPHA FLIGHT'S DEBUT

Uncanny X-Men #120 not only featured the debut of Alpha Flight alongside the rest of the X-Men in Calgary, Alberta but also a cameo from then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The long-serving PM (15 years in office) was responsible for sending Guardian and Alpha Flight after Wolverine, who he referred to as "Weapon X" in a nod to his Canadian-funded roots. The cameo doesn't actually paint the PM in the best light, as his drive to return Logan to Canada is financially motivated due to the cost of enhancing him with adamantium, but it is still a fan-favorite comic moment. Pierre Trudeau's son Justin is actually the current Prime Minister of Canada, and he also recently appeared in 2016's Civil War II: Choosing Sides #5.

14 NORTHSTAR WAS MARVEL'S FIRST MAJOR OPENLY GAY HERO

The first volume of Alpha Flight ran for 130 issues, with a few creative teams following John Byrne after 28 issues. The lineup saw a few changes over the years, but Northstar was a staple of the team who had been well explored over the series which was known for highlighting character-focused stories over big team event issues. While Northstar's sexual orientation had been hinted at over the years by various creative teams, writer Scott Lobdell was the first to have Northstar officially come out as gay. This was done in Alpha Flight #106 which was used to also shine a spotlight on the HIV/AIDS epidemic at the time. The character was later married in Astonishing X-Men #51.

13 AURORA HAS STRUGGLED WITH DISSOCIATIVE IDENTITY DISORDER

Northstar's sister Aurora has been a central part of Alpha Flight as well, though her association with the team hasn't been without some troubled times. Jeanne-Marie suffered from dissociative identity Disorder, which was also known as Multiple Personality Disorder. This meant that Jeanne-Marie had two distinct personalities; Jeanne-Marie was timid and incredibly religious, whereas Aurora was outgoing and uninhibited. While she was able to operate with the team, her mental stability soon deteriorated, leading to the creation of even more personalities and a dark turn with the secret government agency known as Weapon X, before her recovery and return to superheroics.

12 THE COMIC SERIES WAS SOMETIMES BILINGUAL

Much like the team's home country of Canada, which officially became bilingual in 1969 under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Alpha Flight was occasionally in both French and English. This was due to Jean-Paul and Jeanne-Marie's use of both languages in the comics, which were often asides between the twins. What was interesting is these moments of French were often not translated into English, making the moments small gifts to bilingual readers. Alpha Flight was reprinted in the French anthology series Strange (along with other Marvel series), which often included brand new covers from French artists like Ciro Tota or Jean Frisano.

11 GUARDIAN WAS REPLACED BY A FEMALE ROBOT, THEN A CLONE

James Hudson's time as Guardian and the leader of Alpha Flight was marked by tragedy and death. In the landmark Alpha Flight #12, fans saw the apparent death of James Hudson due to his own damaged power suit, which exploded with him still inside. However, it was revealed that the female robot MX39147/"Delphine Courtney" had reconfigured her form to impersonate Mac and trap Alpha Flight, who was then seen by Heather exploding inside the Guardian suit. Mac would return years later, however, it was soon revealed that this version was actually a clone of Guardian, pushing his real return back for a few more years.

10 OMEGA FLIGHT WERE RECURRING VILLAINS

Alpha Flight had a number of dangerous and recurring villains, like the eternal Master of the World and the monstrous Great Beasts, who were tied into Canadian mythology. One of the most personal foes the team faced was undoubtedly the team known as Omega Flight. The first iteration of Omega Flight was put together by Jerome "Jerry" Jaxon, who had worked alongside Hudson at a petroleum company where the first version of the Guardian suit was constructed. Jaxon harbored a grudge and assembled a team that included the aforementioned robot Delphine Courtney along with former members of Gamma and Beta Flight. The Master of the World would later assemble his own version of the team to take down Alpha Flight.

9 CANADA'S SECRET GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS CAN BE KIND OF SHADY

Really, any secret government organization is probably going to be inherently shady, but Canada seems to have a number of factions that have less than altruistic motives like Department K and it's Weapon Plus program that created heroes like Wolverine, Deadpool, and Fantomex. Department H is the legitimate arm of the Canadian government that first developed Alpha Flight, and was also responsible for monitoring Canada's superhumans. When the series returned for a second volume in 1997, Department H had become a corrupted version of its former self run by the sinister Director Clarke. Some of the more shadier actions include the troubled cloning of James Hudson and team memory wipes after missions.

8 A REAL SASQUATCH AND POSSIBLE SON OF WOLVERINE WERE BRIEFLY MEMBERS

During that dark period of Department H, a new team was assembled by Director Clarke. This 90s team of Alpha Flight included past members Vindicator (Heather Hudson) and Puck, along with the apparent return of Walter Langkowski/ Sasquatch, though their former teammate had mutated further into his bestial form. However, it was soon revealed that this creature was a genuine Sasquatch, placed on the team by Director Clarke. Another new member of the team was mutant Adrian Corbo/Flex, who was able to coat his hands in metal to form sharp weapons. Flex's father was an unresolved mystery of the series, though it was implied that it may be Wolverine.

7 ALPHA FLIGHT HAVE A FEW FAILED REBOOTS

The 90s reboot only ran for 20 issues, leaving many of the short-lived series plot points unresolved. Alpha Flight's appearances were few and far between until 2004 when the series was rebooted for a third volume as part of Marvel's "All-New, All-Different" relaunch. This series featured another new team of heroes assembled by Sasquatch (Walter Langkowski, this time) that included heroes like the second Major Mapleleaf and the daughter of Puck, who had taken her father's codename. This series ran for 12 issues before cancellation and was followed by the 2011 limited series that reunited the original team. That series spun out of the Fear Itself event and ran for eight issues.

6 ALPHA FLIGHT HAS DIED AND BEEN REBORN MULTIPLE TIMES

Following the early death of Guardian in Alpha Flight #12, the team saw a number of deaths over the years, which saw temporary returns of members like Guardian, Vindicator, Puck and Marrina using time-travel. Following the House of M storyline, the team met Michael Pointer, a mutant who was possessed by the energies of all the depowered mutants after Scarlet Witch declared "No More Mutants." Known as The Collective, the out of control mutant left a trail of destruction across Canada as it headed toward Genosha, which left Alpha Flight devastated in its powerful wake. The team would return to life again during the Chaos War event during a battle with recurring foes the Great Beasts.

5 OMEGA FLIGHT ONCE REPLACED ALPHA FLIGHT

The previous versions of Omega Flight we've discussed have all been villainous opposites to Alpha Flight, but following Marvel's Civil War and The Initiative, a new team is put together for the Canadian government that was also known as Omega Flight. This team was led by U.S. Agent and Arachne (Julia Carpenter) alongside surviving Flight members Sasquatch and Talisman (Shaman's daughter), with oddball addition Beta Ray Bill. The team also included a new Guardian (later known as Weapon Omega), who was none other than Michael Pointer, the mutant who killed the original team while possessed by the Collective. The second version of Omega Flight led by Vindicator II was later wiped out by Avengers powerhouse Ex Nihilo.

4 AN ALTERNATE REALITY ALPHA FLIGHT PROSPERED WITH WOLVERINE

The dimension-hopping team known as the Exiles were created by Judd Winick and Mike McKone back in 2001, and over the course of their adventures through alternate realities, they encountered a number of versions of Alpha Flight. One of the most memorable appeared in the early storyline "Up North and in the Green," where Wolverine had remained with Alpha Flight and their program excelled with Department H, instead of the multiple hurdles the team in the mainstream 616 reality faced. While the team was successful with Wolverine, the Exiles mission in that timeline was to save the whole team from extermination by a gamma-raged Hulk.

3 THE LATEST VERSION OF ALPHA FLIGHT IS A SPACE-BASED DEFENSE ORGANIZATION

Following the dissolution of Department H's Alpha Flight program and the loss of most of the team in The Collective incident, the future looked bleak for the Canadian superteam. Omega Flight now operated as the superhero equivalent, so the Canadian government brought the organization into a galactic partnership with the US government, the Wakandan government, along with alien races like the Kree and the Shi'ar. The Alpha Flight Space Program incorporated elements of the previous S.W.O.R.D. defense program like Abigail Brand and superhero Captain Marvel, who led the program. The team resides in a low-orbit satellite while in space, and in the Triskelion compound when on Earth.

2 FORMER MEMBERS HAVE GONE ON TO JOIN THE X-MEN AND THE ALPHA FLIGHT SPACE PROGRAM

Alpha Flight has seen a number of different members move through the ranks of the program, from Gamma to Beta to Alpha to Omega. However, considering the unstable status of the team, members have moved on to other organizations over the years. Northstar became a fixture of his former foes the X-Men, though he has returned to join Alpha Flight a few times after the various members returned to life. Wild Child of Gamma and Omega Flight featured in X-Factor before returning to Canada's Weapon X program. And Puck, Sasquatch, and Aurora, who along with Northstar were the only surviving members of the main team, joined Captain Marvel as part of the Alpha Flight Space Program.

1 ALPHA FLIGHT HAVE CINEMATIC EASTER EGGS

For a team with such a rich connection to the X-Men, it makes sense that we would have seen mention of the Canadian spinoff team in some form over the multiple films in the X-franchise. X2: X-Men United featured a look at Col. William Stryker's computer filled with X-Men references, which included folders for Gamma, Beta, and Alpha Flight. The team name even appeared in Deadpool 2, though it was as an advertisement for a Canadian airline that offered "Cheap Flights, Last Minute Deals, and Travel Insurance." The team has appeared in animated form as well on the fan-favorite X-Men: The Animated Series from the 90s.

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