The Phoenix Saga Animated Series
- For information on the comic book version of the Phoenix Saga, see Phoenix (comics).
The Phoenix Saga is one of the most popular miniseries in X-Men: The Animated Series, as well as one of the most popular and important storylines in the X-Men comic books.
This page deals with The Phoenix Saga as it was told in five half-hour episodes of the X-Men Animated Series. This 1994 television version of the story was very significantly different than the original 1975-1976 comic book version of the story. Most obviously, the characters Gambit and Jubilee featured prominently in the televised version; they did not debut in the comics until 1990 and 1987, respectively. Rogue, who was still considered a supervillain in the comics during the Phoenix Saga, also was a member of the team during the cartoon.
Part 1: Sacrifice
In this episode, Professor Xavier sees strange visions of a woman from outerspace. The woman is calling out for help. Xavier calls an emergency meeting of the X-Men and tells them that they have to get into outerspace and find out what this woman wants. Using Jean Grey's telepathy to fool the space shuttle's captain into believing the X-Men are the actual crew members, the X-Men board a space shuttle headed towards a space station.
Upon docking, the X-Men learn that the space station has been taken over by the alien, Erik The Red. Erik The Red attempts to use the space station's weaponry to shoot down the spaceship of an alien criminal, Lilandra. The X-Men battle Erik The Red, damaging the space station and allowing Lilandra's ship to pass unharmed. The X-Men and the shuttle's captain escape from Erik The Red and board their rocket, which has also been severely damaged.
The shuttle's systems begin to fail and the captain can't change course. The shuttle heads right towards Lilandra's ship's radiation exhaust trail. With the autopilot damaged, Jean Grey decides to steer the ship, using her mental abilities to shield herself from the radiation, while the rest of the X-Men and the captain take cover in the ship's radiation shield area.
The episode ends with Jean Grey screaming in pain as she struggles to keep the telekenetic shield around herself and pilot the ship at the same time.
Part 2: The Dark Shroud
This episode begins where the previous one leaves off. Jean Grey is struggling to maintain control over the rocket, while also using her mental powers to shield herself from the harmful radiation through which the spaceship is flying. After passing through the radiation, Jean crash-lands the rocket in the middle of the Hudson River.
As the X-Men and the ship's crew escape from the destroyed ship, Jean Grey flies up out of the water and claims to be something called "Phoenix (comics)". Jean is brought to a hospital to rest, and the X-Men later question her about Phoenix. She has no idea what is going on.
Cyclops stays in the hospital with Jean while the other X-Men venture out into New York City. Gambit and Jubilee head to see a Broadway show. Beast goes to his Manhattan research lab in order to investigate the mind-control chips that were placed into the space station's crew by Erik The Red. Storm decides to meditate on top of a bridge and Wolverine heads off on his own.
Professor Xavier is seen on the roof of the hospial and starts getting into his personal hoverjet, when he again sees visions of the strange alien woman who has been haunting him for the past few days. The mental contact between the two puts Xavier into a coma-like state, and his mutant telepathic abilites begin to project his astral form outside of his body.
His astral form, which it later becomes apparent is really the "evil side" of his psyche, confronts the X-Men one by one. The astral form meets up with Wolverine on a subway and plays mind games with him. However, Wolverine's mutant ability to distinguish people by their unique smells tips him off that the astral ghost is not really Professor Xavier and that something must be wrong. Wolverine finds Gambit and Jubilee on Broadway, just as Xavier's evil astral form is attacking them, and lets them know that it is not really the professor. The three of them try to battle the ghost, but with little luck. Jubilee contacts Storm for assistance. To the police officers, to whom Xavier is not revealing his psychic presence, it appears as though the X-Men are just causing damage for no reason.
As the cops are about to arrest the X-Men for vandalism and destruction of property, Storm comes to their aid just in the nick of time. She creates a dense fog, allowing the four of them to escape.
Xavier's astral form next attacks Cyclops, in Jean Grey's hospital room. Jean tells Cyclops that it is just an astral projection of Xavier's dark side and that he has to realize that whatever "hurt" Xavier's projection might be causing him is all in his head. Cyclops cannot fight the projection though, so Jean Grey uses her own telepathic powers to force Xavier's mental projection away.
The X-Men rush to assist Xavier's physical body. Upon waking him up, Xavier apologizes and explains that his haunting vision of the alien overwhelmed his powerful psyche, causing his evil subconscious to lash out at the X-Men. He told them that he could not be trusted in his precarious mental state, and traveled to Muir Island, Scotland, where his good friend and scientist, Dr. Moira MacTaggert could properly and safely tend to him.
Moira, a former love interest of Xavier's, introduces Professor Xavier to her new fiancee, Sean Cassidy (Banshee). Meanwhile, Erik The Red is seen utilizing advanced alien technology to spy on Xavier and overhears him mention the alien visions. Erik The Red says something about Xavier being "the key" and needing to deal with him. While sitting alone, Xavier gets another violent vision of the strange alien woman.
He mentally reaches out to her this time, rather than fighting to resist her presence. This causes her to show up in front of him. She reveals herself as Lilandra and explains that she is from an alien galaxy called the Shi'ar Empire. Her brother, D'Ken, is the emperor of the Shi'ar people, but he is corrupt. His biggest wish is to use the incredible powers of something called the M'Kraan Crystal in order to rule over the universe. Knowing this, Lilandra stole the M'Kraan Crystal and fled her planet for Earth. According to Shi'ar beliefs, two people are bound together from birth and destined to find each other in their times of need; for Lilandra, this person has always been Charles Xavier. As if to confirm this belief, the two each feel as though they've known the other for years--despite having just met--and immediately begin to become close.
The episode ends with Xavier's greedy step-brother, Juggernaut, breaking into the room and grabbing Lilandra.
Part 3: Cry Of The Banshee
Moira MacTaggert and Banshee hear Xavier's screams and believe he is having another hallucination. They hurry to help him, as he is really using his telepathic powers and encouraging Lilandra to use her energy weapon against Juggernaut. Black Tom ambushes Xavier from behind as he is metally subduing Juggernaut. Black Tom and the Juggernaut take Lilandra hostage and toss Xavier out the window.
Banshee and Moira see Xavier falling out the window, over Muir Island's rocky cliffs and Bashee uses his flying powers--for the first time in the show--to catch Xavier before he lands on the cliffs below. Later, back inside Moira's research compound, Xavier explains to her and Banshee that Lilandra had come to him from an alien planet and Juggernaut had arrived to kidnap her. Thinking Xavier is simply having more paranoid hallucinations, Moira contacts the X-Men who are still at a New York City hospital, taking care of an injured Jean Grey.
Rogue has returned from her unknown "mission", and now the entire team, with the exception of Xavier, is in New York City. Cyclops explains that Jean is still claiming the identity of something called Phoenix (comics), and Wolverine lets the team know that Xavier has just informed him of the situation with Lilandra, Black Tom, and Juggernaut. Wolverine argues that the team should head to Muir Island and check Xavier's story out, given that they have all experienced some bizarre things lately. Storm believes that it would be dangerous to go to Muir Island because Professor Xavier had warned them all that his orders could not be trusted in his current state and that Moira had explained to her that Xavier was suffering from violent hallucinations. However, Cyclops agrees with Wolverine and sends Wolverine, Jubilee, Gambit, and Rogue to check on Xavier. Meanwhile, Cyclops and remain in New York with Jean, in case Beast needs any help with his researching the mind-control implants that were removed from the Space Station crew.
On Muir Island, Wolverine uses his mutant sense of smell to confirm that Juggernaut and two others, including one non-human, were indeed in Xavier's room. At Cassidy Keep, in Ireland, Erik The Red arrives to take Lilandra from Black Tom. At first Erik tries to get away without paying Black Tom, but Juggernaut intervenes and changes Erik's mind. Erik pays Black Tom and Juggernaut $10 million as Lilandra is brought to him. Erik questions Lilandra as to the whereabouts of the M'Kraan Crystal; Lilandra refuses to tell him and calls out to Xavier for help.
Xavier gets Lilandra's telepathic message for help, but only sees a picture of a stag fighting a dragon in his mind. He explains this and Banshee immediately realizes that Lilandra must be in Cassidy Keep, since a stag fighting a dragon is the Cassidy Seal. Banshee and Rogue fly the other three X-Men to Ireland, while Xavier and Moira stay on Muir Island. The X-Men and Banshee battle Juggernaut, Black Tom, and Erik The Red and free Lilandra, but just as they are about to escape Erik The Red detonates an ice bomb, freezing Banshee and the four X-Men in blocks of ice.
Juggernaut grabs Lilandra and the three criminals take her to the roof of the castle. The X-Men manage to break free of the ice, and Rogue flies straight through the castle's ceiling, just stopping Erik The Red from getting into his spaceship with Lilandra. The other X-Men arrive on the roof soon after.
Just as the X-Men are about to fight for Lilandra, Gladiator appears from the clouds and lands next to Erik The Red. He reprimands Erik for not having the M'Kraan Crystal ready for their emperor, D'Ken. Annoyed at Gladiator's pompous attitdue, Juggernaut tries to punch him, but Gladiator does not even flinch. Gladiator lifts the Juggernaut off the groud and tosses him miles out into the ocean. The X-Men remark at how only an alien could have the strength to do something like that to Juggernaut.
Lilandra pleads with Gladiator not to give her brother D'Ken the Crystal and questions why such a noble warrior as him would be serving someone as crazy as D'Ken. Gladiator explains that it is his duty to serve the leader of the Shi'ar Empire and D'Ken is that leader. Black Tom hands Lilandra over to Gladiator and runs off. When Gladiator tries to force her to tell him where the M'Kraan Crystal is, Lilandra cries out for help. Xavier relays the message telepathically to all his X-Men. Jean Grey picks up on the message, which wakes her out of her coma-like state, and she explains to Cyclops and Storm that she has to go help Lilandra. Cyclops tells her she is in no position to go anywhere, but Jean rises out of her bed as Phoenix and states that Phoenix has to go help Lilandra.
In a matter of seconds, Phoenix flies from New York to Cassidy Keep and states that Lilandra is under her protection. Lilandra and Gladiator immediately recognize her as the Phoenix Force, the mythical guardian of the M'Kraan Crystal. Believing it is a trick, Gladiator makes attemtps to attack Phoenix, but nothing works. Phoenix then grabs Gladiator and tells him that she is letting him live to tell D'Ken to give up his mad quest for the Crystal. She encloses him in an energy bubble and sends him hurling back into space. Erik The Red retreats to his spaceship and also heads back into space.
Lilandra thanks Phoenix and says that she has to help her to ensure that D'Ken does not get his hands on the Crystal. Phoenix tells Lilandra that D'Ken is here, as she motions to the stars. The episode ends with D'Ken's spacecraft coming out of the space wormhole, which leads to our solar system from the Shi'ar system, and stating that he knows the Crystal is nearby.