The Phoenix Force is one of the most powerful entities in the Marvel Universe. But what is the Phoenix Force? For much of its publication history, the cosmic fire bird was shrouded in mystery. Indeed, its very nature as an incomprehensibly mighty being ensures that there are some things readers may never know about it.
Comics buffs do know some Phoenix Force facts, however. Over the years, various storylines have enlightened readers as to the origins and abilities of the Phoenix Force. Time and time again, fans seem drawn to this enigmatic and powerful psionic being. In fact, the Dark Phoenix story arc is considered by many to be one of the greatest X-Men stories ever told - and the series has the sales to back it up.
Read through this explainer to learn more about the Phoenix Force in all of its fiery majesty. After all, it seems like it's not going anywhere anytime soon!
The Phoenix Force, like a certain You-Know-Who, is capable of great, but terrible, things. From destroying entire star systems to intergalactic travel, the Force can accomplish deeds humans can barely dream of. Unfortunately, this power comes at a price.
Where does the Phoenix Force get its seemingly endless energy? According to Galactus, and confirmed by the Force itself, its existence in a physical form during any given timeline is sustained by stealing the energy reserved for the birth of future generations. This problem worsens when the Phoenix Force manipulates cosmic energy or preforms a seemingly impossible feat.
And, since the Phoenix Force spans multiple realities, those lives are of beings all across the multiverse, not just humans. So while the Force is off making neat looking fire birds, untold trillions of unborn lives are ended.
As with many ideas in comic book storytelling, the origin of the Phoenix has changed over the years. In what is commonly referred to as a "retcon," the Phoenix was initially conceived as Jean Grey unlocking the full breadth of her psychic abilities. The Phoenix Force was not a separate cosmic entity, but rather Grey herself coming to terms with her enormous power.
The transition she made to the Dark Phoenix was not due to the Force itself struggling with her human emotions, it was simply an outward manifestation of Grey's inner madness. She had been emotionally and mentally manipulated for some time by Emma Frost and Mastermind, and this corruption of her psyche led to her turning into Dark Phoenix.
Of course, when writers needed to bring Jean back to life several years after the Dark Phoenix storyline, this complex psychological nonsense went out the window. Instead, the Phoenix Force was re-imagined as the cosmic entity we know today, capable of restoring life to its avatars.
As one of the Children of the Universe, the Phoenix Force is old. Like, really old. Born between states of being in the void, the Phoenix has been around pretty much since the moment of creation. It's said that the Phoenix Force embodies the passion of that intense event.
In fact, the Phoenix Force is probably one of the oldest things regularly featured in Marvel content. The kicker? The Phoenix Force, in one form or another, will probably be around until the end of the universe as well.
While Phoenix's hosts can travel unaided through space at faster-than-light speeds, the Phoenix Force itself can use a still more efficient mode of transportation. The cosmic entity is so powerful, it can travel anywhere in the innumerable realms of existence by creating a quantum singularity.
Essentially, the Phoenix can move through time and space by folding its own energy in on itself. This causes it to collapse, kind of like the way a black hole is formed. The Phoenix Force then recreates itself in a new location, ready to go about its unfathomable business.