It’s that time of the year when all girls who are named Jean rejoice – because a powerful, feminine role model named Jean returns to the silver screen in X-Men: Dark Phoenix. In case you’re not up to speed, here’s the basic premise of the whole movie.

  • the X-Men are mutants – human beings who are born with special powers (thanks to a genetic mutation)
  • Jean Grey is an X-Man – and she has the power to a) read minds; b) move things with her mind
  • somehow, Jean Grey gains phenomenal cosmic power after an outer space mission goes awry – becoming the Phoenix
  • power corrupts, and since Jean Grey has near-infinite power now…
  • you’ve got to catch X-Men: Dark Phoenix to find out what happens next

But did you know that Jean Grey has gone by many different monikers throughout her career? She’s most famously known as Jean Grey, but when she first started out with the X-Men, she was known as…


1. Marvel Girl

Marvel Girl's first uniform. Credit: The Original Marvel Universe

Marvel Girl’s first uniform. Credit: The Original Marvel Universe

When Jean Grey first appeared on the scene, she called herself Marvel Girl – because, well, it was published by Marvel Comics. Her male teammates had more evocative names, like Cyclops, Iceman, Beast, and Angel – but female superheroes were rarer back then (1963), so Marvel Girl was pretty apt in describing who she was.

She did keep a secret identity back then (she wore a mask, after all), but she wore the same yellow-and-blue uniform as everyone else.

Marvel Girl. Credit: Pinterest

Marvel Girl. Credit: Pinterest

Later on, when the X-Men each got different costumes, Jean Grey got a new pixie-esque costume. She still retained her mask, because she was keeping a secret identity (instead of getting everyone to call her Jean Grey).


2. Jean Grey

Jean Grey. Credit: The M6P

Jean Grey. Credit: The M6P

It was only much later that Jean Grey started going by… Jean Grey. The codename “Marvel Girl” didn’t quite stick, and it didn’t capture the essence of the character the way her other teammates’ codenames did. Also, she ditched the mask (most of the X-Men stopped hiding their secret identities by this point), and started sporting her most iconic look in the 90’s.

This is probably the most famous version of the character – with a distinctively 90’s design by legendary artist Jim Lee. Although the giant shoulder pads kind of give away which era this costume was from, it was also the one that let her long, flowing red tresses loose. As Jean Grey, this was her signature look.


3. Redd

Redd (Jean Grey) and Slym (Cyclops). Credit: Pinterest

Redd (Jean Grey) and Slym (Cyclops). Credit: Pinterest

One of Jean Grey’s more obscure codenames is Redd, an alias that she went by for 12 years. But if she was called Redd for 12 years, how come so few people know about it?

That’s because it technically hasn’t taken place yet – because it only happened (or is it “will happen”?) in the future.

Are you lost? Then strap yourself in for one of the X-Men’s more complicated storylines.

Cyclops and Jean Grey were in love. Then, after some misadventures, Jean Grey was presumed dead. Not too long after, a woman who looked exactly like Jean Grey popped up in Cyclops’ life – Madelyne Pryor. However, it was revealed that Madelyne Pryor was actually a clone of Jean Grey, created by one of their enemies. The X-Men eventually discovered this ruse and drove away Madelyne Pryor… but not before Cyclops had a child with Madelyne Pryor.

This child was sent into an apocalyptic future. Later, Cyclops and Jean Grey were plucked from the present time and sent to that same apocalyptic future, to help raise the child. They stayed there for 12 years, and went by the codenames Slym (Cyclops) and Redd (Jean Grey).

Then they came back, and everything went back to normal.


4. Phoenix

Now we’re getting to the good parts! Jean Grey became known as the Phoenix when a powerful cosmic force (known as the Phoenix Force) entered her body, giving her godlike power. This eventually led to her becoming the Dark Phoenix (more on it later), but it has become one of the most beloved storylines in X-Men history – mainly because it was so fresh and imaginative when it first came out.

It’s been adapted into different mediums (like X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: Dark Phoenix), but the most beloved adaptation has to be the one in X-Men: The Animated Series (1992). It was such a behemoth of a story that it had to be split into NINE episodes (five to explain how the Phoenix came to be, and four to show her descent as the Dark Phoenix). With an approximate 21-minute runtime per episode, this meant that the whole saga spanned about 189 minutes – as long as Avengers: Endgame.

No wonder it was so beloved. With so many episodes, the writers had enough time to develop the story of the Phoenix and Jean Grey’s struggle with power, giving more gravitas to the entire plot.


5. Dark Phoenix

As any X-Men fan knows, when the Phoenix appears, the Dark Phoenix can’t be too far behind. No human being was meant to possess the power of the Phoenix Force, not even Jean Grey. So as the host of such cosmic power, she soon started succumbing to temptation… and became the Dark Phoenix.

Nobody technically calls her the “Dark Phoenix” though (that would be weird), as they still refer to her as “Phoenix”. But it’s generally understood that she’s fallen to the dark side when she takes on her red and yellow form.

If you take a look at the costumes of the Phoenix and the Dark Phoenix, they may seem like simple palette swaps. But take a closer look, and you’ll notice that the logo on Phoenix’s chest is much smaller than the one on Dark Phoenix’s chest. This was an intentional design decision by the artists, as the expanding logo was meant to symbolise the increasing influence of the Phoenix Force in Jean Grey, and her loss of control over that power.


6. White Phoenix of the Crown

White Phoenix of the Crown. Credit: Marvel Database

White Phoenix of the Crown. Credit: Marvel Database

Later in the comics, it is established that there have been different hosts, or avatars, for the Phoenix Force – but only very few have been able to access the full power of the Phoenix Force. Jean Grey is one of those few, and she became the White Phoenix of the Crown as a result, one of the most powerful users of the Phoenix Force.

She also has the nicest costume of the Phoenixes.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

X-Men: Dark Phoenix. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

But what would the Phoenix look like in a live-action movie? That’s exactly what X-Men: Dark Phoenix gives us. Sophie Turner reprises her role as Sansa Stark Jean Grey, who must now contend with being the most powerful creature on the planet (and possible the universe). Professor X (James McAvoy), Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Magneto (Michael Fassbender), and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) must join forces if they are to have any hope of helping Jean Grey overcome her darkest impulses.

Will we see Jean Grey rise from the ashes like a true Phoenix… or will she wield omnipotence as the Dark Phoenix?


Are you an X-Men fan? Then check out more about those merry mutants with the following articles!


Credits: The Original Marvel Universe, Pinterest, The M6P, Pinterest, Marvel Database, Golden Village Cinemas


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