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Superhero Origins: Jean Grey

VO: Dan Paradis
This superhero appeared way back in the original X-Men comic and became the team's first female member. With her powers of telekinesis and telepathy, she helped Charles Xavier fight the evil mutants led by Magneto. Going beyond being just another member of the X-Men, she has been a love interest for both Cyclops and Wolverine, and has gone through a massive character change when she became the Dark Phoenix. Join as we explore the origins of Jean Grey, originally known as Marvel Girl.

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Superhero Origins: Jean Grey

She went from X-men member in a love triangle to the Dark Phoenix. Welcome to, and today we’ll be exploring the origins of Jean Grey, originally known as Marvel Girl.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen to primarily follow the storyline which unfolded in 1963’s Uncanny X-Men #1 and was expanded upon in issues 100, 101 and 135, and was then further explored in 2008’s X-Men Origins Jean Grey.

In her original appearance, Jean Grey first arrived at the X-men mansion while the original team trained.

A new student, the otherwise all male school went crazy over the stunning, yet ordinary looking red head. Meeting Charles Xavier, Grey mentioned how strange it was that he had managed to convince her parents to blindly enroll her in his private school.

It was at that time that Xavier revealed his true mutant identity, and that he was able to identify her powers with his special gift. He further revealed that she would become a member of a very exclusive program with only a small handful of students, and would be called one of the X-Men, as she too had “extra power”.

Upon meeting the other students and being told their code names, she was given her own, that of Marvel Girl. Instantly gaining the affection of the men, Cyclops in particular, she demonstrated her power to move objects through telekinesis.

She and the rest of the team were then told their true purpose, to help mankind to achieve co-existence with mutants. This they would accomplish by battling against the evil mutants led by Magneto.

Adorning her Marvel Girl outfit for the first time, she went out with the team on her first mission, foiling Magneto’ plans by using her power to destroy a missile.

Eventually, she gained the power of telepathy, much like Professor Xavier, with this change being attributed to the true scope of her powers having been suppressed throughout her life.

Meanwhile, she had became romantically involved with Cyclops, while Wolverine constantly vied for her affection, which spurred a love triangle that would become a mainstay of the series.

However, the biggest change to the character occurred at the very end of issue 100, when the original team was made to fight its newest members by a madman.

Though the team overcame this challenge, they realized that they were trapped on a space station about to be destroyed by a solar flare. As a result, Jean sacrificed herself by piloting a shuttle who’s cockpit was exposed to radiation, giving the team the chance they needed to make it back to Earth alive.

Incredibly, the radiation didn’t kill her. Instead Jean Grey emerged from the wreckage at sea radically changed, with her powers reaching new unseen levels. Calling herself the Phoenix, she retained her memories, but emerged as an altogether different person describing herself as fire and life incarnate, before slipping unconscious.

When Jean finally awoke, the suppressed powers inside her took over, and this new identity became the evil known as Dark Phoenix. The most powerful mutant ever encountered, the Dark Phoenix wanted nothing but to destroy every connection to Jean’s former life, before leaving to outer space to become a force threatening the galaxy.

These events were finally showcased, albeit with major changes, in the X-Men films. Therein, the films preserved her status as one of the first X-men students, as well as her love triangle with Cyclops and Wolverine. The films are notable for showing Xavier’s effort to enroll a young Jean and suppress her powers, before her death, rebirth and eventual defeat as Phoenix.

Despite her transformation and death, Jean Grey has managed to return to the franchise, continuing to appear in various media. She even made a return to the film franchise, appearing within 2013’s The Wolverine.

Are you a fan of this insanely powerful red headed mutant? For more thrilling comic book origins, be sure to subscribe to

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