Jean Grey is a founding member of the X-Men and one of the team’s most recognizable characters. In fact, she’s one of the most prominent figures in all of Marvel thanks to her status as an Omega Level mutant and her close relation with the almighty Phoenix Force. She’s played a major part in every live-action adaptation of the team, and in the original X-Men: The Animated Series.
However, despite all her fame and infamy, there are still many things that mainstream audiences don’t know about Jean. Like many other Marvel characters, Jean has gone through multiple changes throughout her comic book journey, and some of her life’s details remain hidden from even the most ardent fans.
10 She Witnessed Her Best Friend’s Death
Jean Grey is the daughter of a history professor, John Grey, and his wife, Elaine. Like most other mutants in the Marvel universe, Jean awoke to her powers in a very traumatic fashion. When she was ten years old, she witnessed the death of her best friend, Annie Richardson, after a car ran her over.
Holding Annie in her arms, Jean’s telepathic abilities emerged, and she bonded with Annie, experiencing her friend’s final moments of life. The event left her severely traumatized and caused her to retreat from others. It wasn’t until she met her future mentor, Charles Xavier, that she began to understand her abilities.
9 All The Original X-Men Had Feelings For Her
The original X-Men roster included Cyclops, Ice-Man, Angel, Beast, and Jean, who went by Marvel Girl. As the group’s sole female, Jean attracted the attention of every single member of the group. During the group’s early stories in the Silver Age, a quasi-love triangle formed between Jean, the shy but brilliant Scott Summers, and the handsome and wealthy Warren Worthington III.
Ice-Man and Beast would also reveal their latent feelings for her in later stories. Perhaps most surprising and disturbing was Professor Xavier’s love for Jean. Hinted during many Silver Age storylines, the attraction returned during the Onslaught event, making millions of fans uncomfortable.
8 The White Phoenix Of The Crown
Over the years, the name Jean Grey has become synonymous with the Phoenix Force. The cosmic and almighty entity constantly haunts Jean, bringing her back to life numerous times to bond with her again. At one point, the Phoenix Force actually tells Xavier that “Jean is the only house where I live.”
The two beings share a convoluted history, and at one point, merge into a single being. Known as the White Phoenix of the Crown, this form gives Jean complete access to the Phoenix’s powers, granting her omnipotence. Jean achieves it during the pivotal Here Comes Tomorrow storyline, after freeing the often-hated X-Men hero Beast from the Sublime bacteria. She then transcends into a higher plane of existence.
7 The White Hot Room
Furthermore, once Jean becomes the White Phoenix of the Crown, she ascends into the so-called White Hot Room. In the Phoenix’s words, the White Hot Room is “a nexus between all Phoenix hosts and our eternal flame.” Basically, it’s the place where the Phoenix lives, dies, and comes back to life.
The White Hot Room is pure energy, like the Phoenix itself. Some characters describe it as the center of creation and the heart of the Phoenix. In one storyline, Jean comments that every living being passes through the White Hot Room at some point in their journey. In her words, “you are always there waiting for yourself to arrive.”
6 Madelyne Pryor
The tragedy of Madelyne Pryor ranks as one of the weirdest storylines in any X-Men comic. Introduced at the height of the Bronze Age of comics, Madelyne would serve as the love interest and eventual wife of Scott Summers after Jean’s death during the Dark Phoenix Saga. Madelyne eventually gives birth to the couple’s child, the mutant Cable, but Scott is unhappy with his life as a husband and father.
After Jean returns to life, Scott abandons Madelyne. Things get complicated when the Marauders kidnap her son and leave her for dead. Her already feeble mind breaks when she discovers that she’s a clone of Jean Grey created by Mr. Sinister, and she aids the demon N’astirh in the Inferno storyline. Over the years, Madelyne and Jean would keep facing each other in multiple ways, the two refusing to stay dead and finding each other somehow.
5 Lady Xorn
Jean Grey’s timeline in the comics is overly convoluted, thanks to her multiple reincarnation and time-traveling shenanigans. In the All-New X-Men, Beast brings previous incarnations of the original five into his present day. As a result, Jean experiences a significant surge in her powers.
During the Battle of the Atom crossover event, a future version of the time-displaced Jean reveals herself as Lady Xorn. Lady Xorn’s powers grew beyond her control because she refused to return to the past, pushing her to the edge. She ends up dying during the battle, although a second Xorn later appears. However, it turns out to be a puppet created by Charles Xavier II.
4 She Becomes Increasingly Unstable Through The Years
Marvel explores superpowers, trauma, and mental health with two of their most prominent characters, both mutants. Jean Grey and Wanda Maximoff struggle with the burden of overwhelming power and control over it. While mental instability has been part of Wanda’s characterization for decades, Jean’s gained prominence in post-Bronze Age stories.
In many ways, Jean exists as only half of a being whenever she’s separated from the Phoenix Force. The existence of Madelyne Pryor further reinforces the notion of a “split” Jean Grey. Furthermore, while Wanda’s issues are inherent, Jean’s are a result of the invasive tampering her psyche endured at the hands of everyone, from Charles Xavier to the Shi’ar.
3 The Trial Of Jean Grey
The 2014 crossover storyline The Trial of Jean Grey puts the character front and center. The Shi’ar Empire abducts the time-displaced Jean and puts her on trial for the crimes of the Phoenix. The X-Men then join forces with the Guardians of the Galaxy and embark on a rescue mission.
During the final battle, Jean awakens to yet another ability. Combining her telekinesis and telepathy, she can absorb psionic energy from others and become stronger. She uses this newfound ability to defeat Gladiator, the Shi’ar leader, in one-on-one combat.
2 Life In Krakoa
During the House of X storyline, Jean adopted her Marvel Girl persona again. She moved to the sovereign nation of Krakoa, a haven for mutants created by Charles Xavier, Magneto, and Moira X. She briefly dies (again) during these events, after Sentinels rip apart her escape pod during a failed mission.
After her resurrection, she joins Krakoa’s Quiet Council, along with Storm and Nightcrawler. Considered the more level-headed mutants, the three made up the “Summer” section of the council. She would then be integral in drafting the basic rules for the nation to function. In a funny scene, Jean buries the hatchet with Emma after years of rivalry, and the two bond over beers.
1 Red Queen
The multiverse is an integral part of Marvel. The existence of multiple timelines is canon, allowing for different iterations of characters to exist. In one of these timelines, the X-Men cast Jean Grey away for an unspecified crime, leading her to travel to Earth-898. There, she assumes the identity of the recently deceased Queen Madelyne I and rules over her empire.
After meeting a time-displaced Nathaniel Grey, Jean, now known as the Red Queen, begins traveling through the multiverse. Her search for the ultimate Nate Grey brings her face to face with X-Man. She takes him back to her Earth, planning to use him to take over the world. However, after a long conflict, Nate ends up killing her, ending her reign of terror.