Jean Grey has been one of Marvel's most popular characters since her introduction in 1963. By being one of the original X-Men as well as playing an important role in some of comics' most memorable story arcs, especially her central role in the famous Dark Phoenix Saga, Jean has left a lasting impression on readers. A strong, well-developed female character, and one of the most powerful mutants of all time, Jean always has been and always will be a fan favorite.
Of course, with such a long and rich history, and many film and television appearances, come many moments that are not always so great, and some that are just so amazing they left fans in shock. Here, we are counting down the 15 Jean Grey moments that left fans shocked and with one question on their minds: WTF?
It’s no secret that X-Men: The Last Stand is a flawed movie, and the most hated of the original X-Men trilogy. One of its biggest flaws is its adaptation of the Dark Phoenix Saga and Jean Grey’s role in the film. Fans were excited to see Jean Grey alive after her self-sacrifice at the end of X2, and were eagerly awaiting her reunion with boyfriend Scott Summers, aka Cyclops.
Unfortunately this reunion was short-lived, as Jean was already possessed by the Phoenix when Scott found her, and after a very brief on-screen interaction and a kiss, Jean proceeded to kill Cyclops. This was a shocking moment to every fan, who did not expect a fan favorite mutant to be killed in the film’s first act, especially at the hands of his own girlfriend. It was unexpected and quite possibly one of the worst things Jean has done, as there really was no motivation behind the murder.
Later on in the third X-Men film, Jean commits another shocking murder. When she is confronted by both Professor X and Magneto in an attempt to recruit the Phoenix to their respective causes, Jean destroys her childhood home and takes the beloved mutant leader down with it. Jean pretty much disintegrates her former mentor and once again shocked fans with an unexpected murder.
As the leader of the X-Men both in comics and in the films, it was not something many viewers saw coming. Professor Xavier’s death was a huge blow to the characters in the movie and to the fans at home, and once again this awful crime was committed by Jean Grey (although she was possessed by the Phoenix). Thankfully, this wholly unwarranted death was retconned out later.
One of the most interesting stories currently taking place in comics is that of the time-displaced teenage X-Men. The original team -- Jean Grey, Beast, Iceman, Angel, and Cyclops -- have had their teenage selves transported into modern times. This has created an interesting dynamic as the team learns to harness their mutant abilities, discover themselves as people, and also learn about their futures.
One of the most controversial moments in this story arc was that of Iceman’s coming out. While LGBTQ representation in comics is a major issue, and the inclusion of an openly gay character was a welcome act of diversity, it was the way with which Iceman came out in All-New X-Men #40 that was the issue. Rather than admit it himself, Jean did it for him after reading his thoughts. Not only had she promised her teammates she would not use her psychic powers on them, but she revealed Bobby’s biggest secret without his consent to do so. In addition to the obvious invasion of privacy, Jean did something that no one, in comics or real life, should ever do: she forcibly outed someone.
Time displacement seems to be a theme when it comes to shocking Jean Grey moments. In the aftermath of the Phoenix Saga and Jean’s resurrection, she encountered her daughter from an alternate future, Rachel Summers. Rachel only wanted to bond with the mother she never knew, but Jean wanted no part of it.
It took jean quite a bit of time to accept her daughter, but originally upon learning that the Phoenix Force had bonded with Rachel, Jean rejected her and refused to be part of her life. Rachel had traveled through time and realities, but Jean did not seem to care. She didn’t even give Rachel a chance and immediately refused to be associated with her due to Rachel’s bond with the Phoenix. It was a pretty harsh move on Jean’s part, and it left her daughter feeling alone and rejected.
Understandably, Jean had a hard time adjusting to her new life after coming back from her cocoon at the bottom of Jamaica Bay. She missed out on years of life, including the Phoenix Saga, which was directly tied to her. This would probably be a difficult situation for anyone to adjust to, even if they’re one of the strongest telepathic mutants on Earth.
When reuniting with his former lover, Cyclops left his current relationship and proposed to Jean. Of course, things were still confusing to Jean and she rejected the proposal. This was a shocking moment in Marvel’s history, as Jean and Scott were always one of the most well-known comic book couples and the opportunity for them to reunite after years apart excited many fans. In the end, the two mutants did get married, but Jean’s initial rejection was very surprising.
Marvel took an interesting approach to their alternate reality Marvel Noir in 2009. Replacing superheroes and powers with regular people in noir and pulp settings, but every character was based on existing ones in Marvel’s main continuity. In this reality, the X-Men were a group of delinquent teenagers who Charles Xavier uses for criminal activity.
At the beginning of X-Men Noir, Jean is believed to be dead after her body is found. It is later revealed that Jean faked her death and actually killed the alternate reality version of Rogue before pretending to be her. Throughout the entire series, Jean is depicted as a sociopath with no regard for compassion or real human emotion. There was never an explanation given to this Jean’s behavior, she simply was evil for the sake of it. This is a major departure from the heroic and beloved Jean Grey from Marvel’s main continuity.
Another alternate reality, Marvel Ultimate, has had lasting popularity with readers and has even impacted the main continuity. Some of its characters have even become mainstays of the Marvel universe after the realities were merged at the end of 2015’s Secret Wars event. Luckily, we got to keep the original Jean Grey, since her Ultimate counterpart was a little more unpredictable.
In Ultimate X-Men #25, after the Hellfire Club attempts to free the Phoenix from Jean, believing it to be a God, she goes mad and uses her Phoenix powers for chaos. Jean steals their bank information to give money to Xavier, erases their memories, and eventually kills the Hellfire Club members. The actions of Ultimate Jean are vastly different from that of Marvel’s main Jean Grey, and her erratic behavior was shocking to read.
While Jean is normally a smart and calm individual, she evidently has her moments where she loses control and commits horrendous acts. One such moment occurred when she discovered that Cyclops had sort of cheated on her. Their romance dates back to the early days of the X-Men and leads into their eventual marriage after Jean’s resurrection. However, after so many years together, Cyclops got bored and ended up engaging in a psychic affair with one of Jean’s enemies, The White Queen herself, Emma Frost.
When she discovered this affair, Jean completely lost her cool and tortured Emma. Using her psychic powers, Jean forced Emma to relive her most painful memories, and she seemed to take pleasure in doing so. Of course, Emma had done her wrong and stolen her husband, but this was a dark moment for Jean, as she used her powers to hurt Emma over personal issues.
Once again, Jean’s historic relationship with Scott ended up resulting in a moment that shocked readers. After becoming time-displaced, the teenage X-Men learned a lot about their futures. One of the things that was quickly found out was that Jean and Scott would eventually fall in love. It was even clear at the time that the two had feelings for each other, even though they had yet to do anything about it.
Despite her feelings, Jean decided that Cyclops was not the man for her and, in All-New X-Men #15, she kissed Beast, but only after reading his mind and learning he was in love with her. The cover of the issue featured the kiss, already throwing fans into a frenzy, and the pages inside only made things worse as Jean once again violated her promise not to read her fellow X-Men’s thoughts, and toyed with Beast’s emotions, all while still having feelings for Scott.
Wolverine’s nemesis, Victor Creed, aka Sabretooth, was always a nuisance to the X-Men. That’s why it was so controversial to the team when Professor X decided to keep him inside the X-Mansion in X-Men #28. Many of the team members were not happy with this decision, even if Xavier was trying to turn Sabretooth from evil to good.
Jean was particularly upset with the decision to allow the feral mutant into their home and, after Sabretooth had already tormented some of the team members, she confronted him. This resulted in one of Jean’s most popular moments, as she threw Sabretooth against the wall and declared “You’re a firecracker, Creed and I’m an atom bomb” leaving readers in awe of the character in one of her most glorious, yet truly terrifying moments.
While 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse may not have been the franchise’s most popular entry, it did include many memorable moments. One of these came at the climax of the film as all hope seemed lost and Jean stepped in to help defeat Apocalypse. Unleashing her psychic powers to their full extent, Jean kills Apocalypse before he can destroy the world, and proved once again why she is such a beloved character.
The scene was stunning to watch, and was a shining moment for both Jean and the X-Men on screen. Also, including a quick flash of the Phoenix Force as she obliterates Apocalypse made this moment even better, as fans were teased with the inclusion of the classic arc in the new film timeline, and a chance to do it justice after The Last Stand failed to do so.
The story that changed Jean Grey, as well as X-Men and comic book history, secretly began in Uncanny X-Men #100. Unbeknownst to readers, Jean’s decision at the end of the issue would later be the lead in to the Dark Phoenix Saga. The issue begins with Jean piloting the X-Men back to Earth through a radiation storm. While the team remains in a radiation-proof cell, Jean continues to pilot the ship and sacrifices herself to save her teammates from crashing.
As the ship goes through the storm, Jean forces the rest of the team to enter the cell where they will be safe, while she refuses to do so in order to pilot the ship. After an emotional goodbye to her teammates, specifically Cyclops, the radiation leaks into the ship and affects Jean just as the issue comes to a close. The cliffhanger and probable death of a central character was an absolute shocker for all readers who were forced to await the next issue…
…Uncanny X-Men #101 opened with the X-Men’s ship crashing into Jamaica Bay. All the team members were safe, except Jean, who was nowhere to be seen after her sacrifice. This did not sit well with Cyclops who was hysterical and was ready to dive down into the water to rescue her.
Cyclops’ would-be rescue was cut short as Jean emerged from the water in a new costume and declared herself Phoenix. This was the moment that changed everything as Jean was officially bonded with the Phoenix Force, which, years later, would be the cause of much more suffering for the X-Men. While no one knew at the time how important the Phoenix Force would be, it was still a total shock to readers to see Jean alive, but most of all different as she now had the powers of Phoenix.
Jean’s most terrible act, and perhaps her most well-known, was a result of the Phoenix Force’s corruption. The most widely discussed moment of the Dark Phoenix Saga, and the most brutal, was the destruction of the D’Bari race. The entire alien species was wiped out by Jean as she replenished her powers by absorbing their sun. The resulting supernova destroyed their planet and wiped out the whole race.
This moment is one that will live in infamy forever as one of the most memorable and important moments in comic book history. There was no way for Jean to come back after killing an entire alien race, and it was time for the Phoenix Force to be stopped. Readers had to sit back and look on as one of the most popular heroes became a villain after an unforgivable act of genocide.
The Dark Phoenix Saga came to a tragic end in Uncanny X-Men #137 as Jean made the ultimate sacrifice. Knowing that the Phoenix could not be stopped and would only continue to wreak havoc on the universe, Jean decided to kill herself and take down the Phoenix. It was a tragic moment, a heartbreaking one, and the defining moment for the character.
Jean proved how heroic she truly is, despite her heinous acts throughout the story, and gave her life to save the world. Cyclops watched in horror and perfectly portrayed the reactions of readers as they watched a character they love die. A shocking moment, and a fitting one, it changed the X-Men forever and will always be remembered as one of Jean’s finest moments.
Which Jean Grey memory still makes you X-claim WTF!? Let us know in the comments!