Dr. Jean Grey is a central character to the X-Men film series. One of Professor Xavier's favourite students, Jean is a rare psychic in that she possesses the two dual psychic powers, telepathy and telekinesis at once. The girlfriend of Scott Summers (Cyclops), Jean is a beloved teacher at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, as well as the school's resident medical doctor. Jean gets caught up in a love triangle between herself and the man she loves, Cyclops, as well as her dangerous mutual attraction with Wolverine. Best friends with Ororo Munroe (Storm), Jean was at one time the heart of the X-Men. Over time, however, her own mysterious past and the cataclysmic events of the series unleashed a dark side hidden within her, turning her story into a tragedy as she transformed into the powerful mutant entity known as The Phoenix.
In the original film trilogy, Jean is portrayed by Famke Janssen.
Childhood and discovery
Jean Grey was first discovered by Professor Xavier when she was a small child, back in the time when Xavier and Erik Lensherr (Magneto) were still friends and partners in the early days of emerging mutations. From the beginning, Xavier notes that Jean is "special". It is revealed in the novel of the film "The Last Stand" that Jean's psychic powers were exposed after witnessing her best friend being struck and killed by a car. Jean's telepathy linked her to her friend Annie's mind while she died, and her telekinesis, unusually strong for a child, affected the world around her on an atomic level.
When Xavier and Lensherr approach, Jean's parents seem unusually nervous of their daughter and refer to Jean's burgeoning powers as her "illness". When Jean comes before the two men, she is strangely self-possessed and does not act like a girl her age. She easily reads both of their minds until Xavier catches her; when Lensherr tries to empathise with her she arrogantly declares that she "doubts" that either of the two men are anything like her. Jean then proceeds to levitate every vehicle on her street - more than ten tonnes of metal - while also lifting up a running lawnmower and reversing gravity itself by warping the flow of a neighbour's water hose and causing the water to flow up. While Lensherr is enthralled by the display, Xavier seems deeply disturbed by the girl's behaviour and reaches into her mind, destroying her control. He then voices that he doubts whether Jean can truly control her incredible power, asking her if she would instead let it control her. Jean appears troubled.
Learning and Joining the X-Men
For an undisclosed amount of time, Jean goes on to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, training in control over her powers, joining the X-Men, and joining in a team that for a time consisted of Beast, Storm, Cyclops and herself, though Beast would later leave to pursue professional life. During this time, Jean completed her education, became a medical doctor as well as a teacher for the school, and kindled a long-lasting romance with her teammate Scott Summers (Cyclops). Jean is one of the only X-Men who never assumes a code-name, indicating that she is unafraid if the world at large learns of her mutant identity.
During this time, however, it is later revealed that a wary Xavier made the decision to place a series of psychic blocks on Jean's mind, limiting her powers. During these sessions, Xavier made the startling discovery that the reason Jean's powers so affected her mind was that her mutation changed the limbic system of her brain, seating Jean's power in her subconscious rather than her conscious mind. This was by all accounts dangerous, as the subconscious is the seat of pure emotion, without reason or morality. By locking parts of her subconscious away, Xavier discovered that he had created within Jean a split personality -- the dark side of Jean, her pure subconscious focused by her powers and unfettered by her conscious mind. This personality came to call itself "The Phoenix", a primal manifestation of the dark side of Jean's mind. Locking this side deeply within her, Xavier kept a close watch on his pupil.
As the films began, Jean is introduced as the school's medical doctor and a beloved teacher, with no knowledge of her darker past. Jean is in fact a respected authority, and is shown to have been invited to address the United States Congressional hearings on the issue of the Mutant Registration Act, a law that would require all mutants to publicly register themselves and their powers. Fearing a backlash from bigots and those fearful of mutants, Jean fights against this with little success.
After Wolverine and Rogue are brought to the school, Jean begins giving Wolverine a medical examination that is interrupted when the panicked mutant attacks her. Later, she helps Logan to settle into his rooms, revealing her powers and also her acknowledgement that she isn't very powerful and lacks control over her limited telepathy. Wolverine, intrigued by Jean, challenges this and has her read his mind. Catching glimpses of some of the man's horrified past, Jean forges a connection with Logan that seems to trouble her.
When Rogue goes missing, Jean again expresses her frustration with her limited telepathy as she acknowledges that for her to attempt to use Cerebro, a device which amplifies a telepath's abilities on an exponential level, would be "dangerous". Jean accompanies Professor Xavier to the train station where the Brotherhood of Mutants has taken Rogue and helps the professor keep telepathic control over Toad and Sabretooth, for a brief time, though Rogue is lost. When the standoff finishes, Magneto leaves triumphant and Jean appears troubled by the loss.
Soon after this, Senator Robert Kelly appears on the X-Men's doorstep begging for help. Jean attempts to provide medical care with limited success; Xavier reads Kelly's mind and discovers that Magneto has built a machine that emits a radiation which triggers mutation in normal human beings, with Jean inputting that humans that aren't ready for the mutation will die from the radiation as their bodies reject the change. When Kelly does indeed die, Xavier attempts to use Cerebro to find Magneto, only to fall prey to the sabotage that a shapeshifted Mystique implanted in the machine earlier.
Troubled by her mentor's illness and increasingly frustrated with being unable to help, Jean fixes Cerebro and makes the fateful choice to use the machine herself to find Rogue. The machine tears through Jean's mind and some of the psychic barriers placed by Xavier so long ago, and Jean is able to find Rogue, though experience has drained her. Despite this, she accompanies the X-Men to Liberty Island, where Magneto has taken his machine in an attempt to use it on a conference of world leaders. Still weak, Jean is easily defeated in battle by Toad, though she later uses her telekinesis to temper Storm's windstorm to fly Wolverine onto the torch of the Statue of Liberty to allow him to stop Magneto's machine in time. When the mutation-enhancing radiation hits her, Jean appears even more troubled than before.
Caring for Logan later in the hospital wing, Jean acknowledges their mutual attraction but rejects it, which Wolverine accepts, and she chooses to try to retain her normal life in the X-Mansion.
As the film opens, Jean and Cyclops are two of the chaperones on a school field trip to a natural history museum. As Jean slowly breaks apart from the others, her control slips and she begins to hear the thoughts of the entire crowd around her, a feat which she was previously incapable of and which visibly disturbs her. When she manages to collect herself, Scott attempts to comfort her though she brushes him off by claiming she merely has a "headache". Scott confronts her, however, and she is forced to reveal that her telepathy has been growing in leaps and bounds, leaving her unable to control it or focus it. Scott also reveals that she has been having disturbing nightmares about the future, displaying a limited prescient ability, as well as a disturbing growth in her once faltering telekinetic abilities, succinctly stating "A month ago you were having trouble levitating a book or a chair across the room; now whenever you have a nightmare the entire bedroom shakes." Acknowledging her fears, Jean is comforted by Scott before revealing another telepathic growth in being able to detect trouble in the food court rooms away from herself.
When the Professor sends Jean and Storm to find the mutant known as Nightcrawler, a teleporter who was used in a mysterious mutant attack against the President of the United States, Jean is able to use her telekinesis to not only hold Nightcrawler in place but also to prevent him from teleporting further. Once the two have determined that Nightcrawler was under some form of mind control, they try to fly back to the mansion but receive a distress call from Wolverine revealing that the mansion was attacked by a group of black-ops soldiers while Xavier was distracted by Nightcrawler's assault. Jean is forced to reveal the Blackbird jet to a group of police officers in order to rescue an embattled Wolverine, a problem only made worse by Pyro's increasingly reckless use of his powers. This confrontation leads to the air force chasing after the Blackbird.
Despite Storm's best efforts at shaking the fighter jets, one is able to launch two target-locked missiles at the Blackbird. When the team realises what has happened, Jean falls into a trance and taps into her increasing abilities with startling results: her hair blows back from her face, her skin flushes with an almost fire-like glow, and her eyes burn with red flames as she telekinetically destroys one of the missiles with apparent ease. Shocked at what she's done and exhausted by the sudden power fluctuation, Jean loses her control and the other missile hits the Blackbird. To their confusion, the X-Men are saved by Magneto, who explains that a Colonel William Stryker, a mutant-hating military man who is later revealed to have been the mastermind behind Weapon X (the program that experimented on Wolverine), has kidnapped Xavier and through months of torture has used Magneto to discover Cerebro. Magneto goes on to explain that Cerebro is powerful enough to connect a telepath as strong as Xavier to every living mind on the planet, and that if Xavier were forced to concentrate hard enough on a particular group (such as mutants), he could easily commit genocide.
When Magneto reveals that Nightcrawler was placed under the same mind-controlling serum as Magneto himself, Jean is called to read Nightcrawler's mind and is able to push through the serum itself to find Stryker's base underneath the dam at Alkali Lake. When Jean withdraws from Nightcrawler's mind, her power flares once again and the flames of the campfire inexplicably leap higher than normal. Exhausted and afraid, Jean and Logan share a brief kiss before she chooses to remain with Scott and leaves Logan alone.
The next day, the X-Men invade the Alkali Lake base alongside Magneto and Mystique. The two groups split up, with Storm and Nightcrawler trying to rescue the incarcerated mutant children taken from the school and Jean accompanying Magneto and Mystique to try to find Professor Xavier. They are waylaid, however, by a mind-controlled Cyclops. Jean takes Scott on alone, telekinetically throwing him to the lower levels. When she confronts him, Cyclops unleashes the full power of his optic blasts, a power that, according to Jean earlier could potentially "punch a hole through a mountain". Jean erects a psychic shield and once more unleashes the full extent of her power; her eyes once more burn red and a fiery corona of energy surrounds her as she blasts Cyclops away. The sheer force of the explosion of the two's powers causes a deep crack in the dam itself, and sends the two combatants flying across the room from each other. Jean's blast woke Scott from his trance, though she breaks her leg, and it seems that all of her powers have been completely unleashed.
When the two are waylaid by Xavier unleashing Cerebro, Magneto uses his psychic-shielding helmet to protect himself and reverses Stryker's Cerebro so that it only targets human beings before taking Mystique and leaving the X-Men. Jean is able to use her telepathy to discover what's happened to Cerebro, and the team are able to break Xavier free of his trance. As the team tries to flee the base, Wolverine reveals the damage done to the dam and informs them that all of Alkali Lake is about to be unleashed on the compound. Despite a rescue attempt by Rogue and Iceman, the Blackbird is still too damaged from the missile to run properly to get the X-Men out alive. Jean separates herself from the others with a grim expression on her face before she quietly leaves the Blackbird.
When Xavier notices that she is missing, Jean unleashes her fully developed powers: she begins to fix the Blackbird's technical problems, locks all forms of exit to prevent a rescue attempt from distracting her from what needs to be done, prevents Nightcrawler from teleporting to her, and telepathically possesses Professor Xavier in order to say goodbye to her loved ones. She then creates a massive psychic barrier and holds back the entire wave of Alkali Lake, all while lifting the repaired Blackbird out of harm's way. Jean's eyes burn red and her entire body is engulfed in powerful psychic flames as she uses the last of her power to fly her friends to safety before a look of complete peace engulfs her as she drops her hands, allowing the rushing water to finish its work.
With the X-Men completely distraught, Xavier alone appears warily thoughtful of a psychic echo from Alkali Lake, where, underneath the water, an enormous fiery phoenix raptor appears to fly beneath the water.
X-Men: The Last Stand
As time passes since Jean's sacrifice, the world begins to change around the X-Men: along with a new president Hank McCoy (Beast) now serves as the first mutant in the White House as the Secretary of Mutant Affairs, the X-Men's students begin to graduate and become X-Men themselves, and a pharmaceutical company develops a chemical compound that can completely suppress mutation - a compound which they controversially label a "cure". Magneto takes advantage of this immediately by rallying angry and fearful mutants to his cause, likening the "cure" to the holocaust he himself lived through, a situation only made worse when the militant new Secretary of Defence allows the "cure" to be weaponised and used on Mystique. During the turmoil, the X-Men are revealed to be in an uncertain place, with Xavier thinking about the future and questioning who will take over his work when he is gone, Storm forced to step up as team leader when a depressed and haunted Cyclops steps down, Wolverine becoming more and more tied down to the X-Men, and Rogue and Iceman's relationship hitting the rocks as the full implication of Rogue's inability of human contact confronts the couple.
Scott is revealed to be haunted by a psychic echo of Jean, a torrent of unfocussed and super-powerful telepathic cries for help and images of her apparent death under the torrent of water at Alkali Lake. When the X-Men become distracted by the announcement of the "cure", Scott breaks away and journeys to Alkali Lake. Tormented once more by the telepathic haunting of Jean, Scott completely loses control and blasts the water with the full extent of his powers before collapsing in tears; however, his power has awakened something in the water and a powerful whirlpool begins to form where his optic blasts touched the water's surface. Suddenly blasted backward by a powerful force, Scott watches as an unbearably bright psychic fire is unleashed, throbbing with power, before the light recedes to reveal Jean Grey, alive and unharmed.
Overcome with joy, the two reunite, though Jean is confused and somewhat distant about her time sleeping beneath the water. Continuing her strange behaviour, Jean asks Scott to remove his protective ruby quartz glasses, claiming that she can control his blasts. Though he resists, she removes them herself and is indeed inexplicably able to completely turn his power off. Overcome, the two kiss, but Jean's eyes open and her entire demeanour changes before her eyes burn with dark flame and her face darkens. Scott's skin begins to ripple and the world around them changes before a blast of psychic power envelopes the two; it is so powerful that Xavier feels it so completely that he loses control and blasts everyone in the mansion with his own power. Storm and Wolverine are dispatched to the lake immediately, where they find a silent, haunted place. There is fog in the air that is in fact water flowing upward; when Storm parts the water they find a receded beach where rocks and large boulders lazily float, held aloft with unseen telekinetic power, and Wolverine is shocked to find Cyclops' glasses before Storm finds Jean, unconscious and alone amongst the psychic storm she apparently has created.
When the two bring Jean home, Xavier examines her and is forced to tell the story of Jean's childhood and reveals that Jean Grey is the only known Class 5 or Omega-level mutant alive; as her telekinesis is able to affect the world on a sub-atomic level she can quite literally do anything that she can think of with no limits. As Xavier states, however, he fears that the Jean Grey they know and love is gone, and all that is left is the Phoenix: "A purely instinctual creature, all joy and desire...and rage...We must see now whether this is the Jean we know, or the Phoenix, violently struggling to break free." When Wolverine confronts the professor with his disgust at the man's actions on an innocent mind, Xavier defends himself angrily, arguing that he was confronted with a choice of two evils and that he chose the option he could live with, stating that the X-Men had absolutely no idea what Phoenix was capable of and that his only choice now was to attempt to reassert psychic control over Jean/Phoenix and attempt to "cage the beast once more".
When Wolverine assumes a lone vigil over Jean, she wakes up from her coma suddenly and speaks to Wolverine, who has immediate misgivings as she continues to act completely different from the woman he knew and loved before; his suspicions are furthered when Jean's desire goes uninhibited and she kisses him forcefully, ripping telekinetic wounds in his flesh as she undresses him and her eyes and skin flushing with the same fiery power as before. Logan finally breaks the kiss and attempts to reason with her, which causes her to react with unthinking anger, taunting him cruelly and displaying a passionate rage toward the professor's invasion of her mind. When Logan mentions Scott, however, Jean seems to wake up from a trance, the real Jean, unaware of where she is or how she arrived there. When Logan explains and once more shows her Scott's glasses, Jean is horrified as she confesses that she murdered him at Alkali Lake when she lost control of her powers.
The confession breaks through her control and the entire hospital wing begins to disintegrate and collapse around them; when Logan pleads with her to control herself she begs him desperately to kill her as her powers surge wildly beyond her control. Logan, desperate, suggests that Xavier can "fix" the problem; the suggestion completely infuriates her and Phoenix resurfaces, snarling that she doesn't want to "fix it" before slamming Logan into the wall so hard the wall breaks, leaving him unconscious, before she easily disintegrates the extremely thick and heavy hospital wing doors and blasting the remains into the hallway before she escapes from the mansion.
When Xavier and Storm find Wolverine, he informs a horrified Storm and resigned Xavier of Scott's murder and Phoenix's exodus. Xavier desperately tries to find her before it's too late, but remarks that she is blocking his telepathy, though he is able to guess from her troubled, fractured thoughts where she might go. When the X-Men arrive at Jean Grey's childhood home, however, they find Magneto already waiting for them as Calypso, a mutant with power-detecting abilities, tipped him off to Phoenix's awakening. Magneto challenges Xavier to let Phoenix decide between the two of them now that she has fully woken, and a reluctant Xavier holds off a fight by allowing Magneto into the house with him. Inside, the water is flowing upward and boiling itself, the furniture is floating and rearranging itself, and the entire house is shaking with Jean/Phoenix's emotions. She angrily confronts Xavier, who argues that everything he did was for her own good, but Magneto interrupts and angers her further by reinforcing her belief that Xavier just wants to control her and insisting that she should be free as she wants to be. Xavier desperately tries to speak to her about her mental illness, but Magneto reinterprets his words as wanting to give her the "cure", which merely enrages her all the more. When Xavier confronts her about her total lack of control and forces her to think about killing Scott, Jean loses control completely and Phoenix emerges, shattering the windows of the house and shaking it to its foundations as she begins a psychic war against Xavier. As the X-Men and the Brotherhood fight to gain access to the house, the furious psychic battle begins to destroy the entire house around them; Xavier attempts to gain access to Phoenix's mind but she shakes him off and fully manifests her darker powers, her entire body glowing with dark fire and her eyes burning with flame.
Gaining the upper hand, Phoenix reverses gravity and lifts the house from its foundations when she lifts Xavier from his chair. Freezing time around her, Xavier, completely at her mercy, merely begs her not to let her powers control her. In front of a helpless and horrified Wolverine, Phoenix atomises the professor's body and murders Charles Xavier before unleashing her power, sending the house and everyone in it crashing to the ground. Magneto finds her sitting on the ground, broken, staring lifelessly at Xavier's wheelchair, and takes her with him when he leaves.
Phoenix observes the Brotherhood's camp, holding herself aloof from the proceedings; when Magneto finds her he attempts to flatter her by referring to her as a "goddess" and encouraging her to use her power - which she does, by disassembling a weaponised "cure" gun and nearly stabbing Magneto with the darts. Magneto desperately tries to reason with her, and Phoenix observes that Magneto wants something from her just the same as Xavier did, indicating that she cares little about the war emerging around her. Calypso and the others are frightened of Phoenix and comment that her power is "completely unstable". Magneto agrees, albeit reluctantly, but refuses to celebrate Xavier's death.
After Xavier's funeral, Wolverine receives a psychic call from Phoenix, much like Cyclops once had, and decides to try to find her and bring her home once more. Storm confronts him with the fact that the only reason he's still trying is that he is in love with her, and that although she loved Jean like a sister, Phoenix murdered Scott and Xavier and is lost to them. Wolverine goes regardless, and finds Phoenix in the woods, where Magneto is giving a rousing speech about the start of a war, referring to her only as a "weapon". Troubled, she wanders into the woods where Logan finds her, though they are interrupted by Magneto, who blasts Logan away. Logan, however, is energised by the knowledge that Jean is still alive somewhere inside the Phoenix and is not completely lost to her madness.
When the final battle begins on Alcatraz Island, where the facility that houses the source of the "cure", a mutant named Leech, and the research lab of Worthington Labs is located, Phoenix remains removed from the battle, observing the X-Men and the military fighting against Magneto's forces, and appearing torn over which side she belonged on. When the X-Men gain the upper hand and the last of Magneto's forces are defeated and Magneto himself is administered the "cure" and loses his powers, Wolverine and the X-Men offer Jean a chance to come home. With tears in her eyes, Phoenix is torn; however, Magneto angrily tells her that what has happened to him is what the people the X-Men are fighting with want, an opinion tragically reinforced when a contingent of military soldiers assume Phoenix is on the wrong side of the battle and fire hundreds of rounds of the "cure" at her. Completely losing control once more, Jean is overtaken by the Phoenix, who disintegrates the darts and shoots Wolverine and her old friends one last desperate look over her shoulder, before she flies into the air unleashes the full force of her psionic abilities.
Murdering all of the soldiers who fired on her, Phoenix flies to the centre of the island and begins to atomise the world around her, tearing it apart in a fiery apocalypse. Destroying the Blackbird and lab, she murders three mutants trying to escape and several more soldiers as her psychic storm intensifies, lifting the ocean waters from the San Francisco bay and tearing the earth beneath her feet to cinders. Magneto, horrified, expresses regret at what he has unleashed as he rushes to some safety with the others. Wolverine, finally accepting Storm's earlier words, uses his mutant healing ability to fight his way toward Phoenix, trying to reason with her. She attempts to kill him several times, but his mutant power regrows the flesh she begins to disintegrate. When he finally reaches her, Phoenix attempts to kill him one last time; when she fails, she finally asks in a sort of wonder "You would die for them?"
When Logan tells her "Not for them--for you," a small portion of Jean's consciousness struggles to the surface; fighting back tears as her uncontrollable powers continue to destroy the world around them, she begs Logan one last time: "Save me!" Confessing his love for her, Logan grants Jean's last wish and impales her through the heart with his claws. For one brief moment, the Phoenix recedes from Jean's eyes and she smiles beautifully at Logan, appearing completely at peace, before she dies and the water lifting from the bay begins to fall like a healing rain, putting out the fires and washing away some of the damage.
Jean Grey is buried in the memorial garden courtyard, laid to rest next to the tombstone of Scott Summers, the man she loved, with both graves next to the large memorial of Professor Xavier, the man she'd regarded as a father for most of her life, at peace.
Following the events of X-Men: Days of Future Past, the timeline is altered and the events that transpired in the previous films do not occur. As such, Jean's death never happens and she is seen briefly in the alternate future living happily with Scott. Jean is seen as a teenager growing up at the Xavier Institute in the following film X-Men: Apocalypse in which she is portrayed by Sophie Turner.