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Headscratchers / Avengers vs. X-Men

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  • Let's step back for a moment shall we? It was established early on that the approaching Phoenix was destroying worlds on its way to Earth! Was it really irrational for the Avengers to regard it as a Galactus-level threat to Earth? The X-Men were fully aware of the Phoenix destroying an entire star system in the past! But now, just because most of the world's mutants have been Brought Down to Normal, the X-Men are prepared to welcome it with open arms like some kind of Apocalypse Cult. They are fully-prepared to risk the very existence of the Earth and the entire human race on the gamble that Hope will be able to control the Phoenix should she in fact become its vessel. Why wouldn't the Avengers (along with the rest of the human race) see this as an unacceptable risk, especially just to restore the powers of a group of people that are increasingly seen (and see themselves) as separate from humanity, and one of whose major representatives, Magneto, has openly-espoused Hitler-like philosophy in the past?
    • The last time that the phoenix was present on the earth and worked with the X-Men in New X-Men, it grew naturally within its proper designated host, Jean Grey, and never went mad. The entire problem was the Avengers fault, because they cherry-picked their sources (ie. only took into consideration the Dark Phoenix storyline), forced the Phoenix into hosts that had never been intended to host it (ie. the Phoenix Five), and never ever considered the fact that there were previous hosts that had hosted the Phoenix Force without giving way to sanity slippage (Rachel Grey). The Phoenix has moved way past its original introduction in the comics. It's a pity to see that the Avengers threw that entire character development out of the window.
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    • An even bigger headscratcher is why was it destroying worlds in the first place? In the Dark Phoenix saga it destroyed a star, not a planet, and it has never been randomly destructive, while not under the influence of a host, in the past.
      • Because that's part of its job. For some reason the Phoenix overlaps with Galactus in some duties. The difference is that Galactus consumes worlds in order to sate his hunger and because his being alive serves as the key to the prison for an even worse threat. The Phoenix, meanwhile, only destroys worlds that have reached the end of their lifespan or an evolutionary dead-end to clear space for new ones.
  • In the final issue of Avengers vs. X-Men we see the faces of Emma Frost, Namor, and Magneto plastered on wanted posters. The first two make sense, given their contact with the Phoenix and their subsequent actions, but Magneto behaved fairly heroically during this series. Sure he tangled with the Avengers, but what X-Man didn't? I assume they want him firmly in familiar villain territory for Marvel NOW, but given his placement next to the others, it rendered the panel distracting.
    • The only reason he was allowed to walk free on Utopia was effectively because Cyclops was vouching for him. Someone saying "Sure, I'll make sure he behaves himself." rings hollow when the person saying it nearly destroys the planet.
  • The way that the Phoenix Five are being treated once they were freed is starting to get on my nerves. Each one of them were essentially possessed by a force they did not want, and were only taken over by thanks to the actions of the Avengers. They did not chose to get this power, and they really shouldn't be blamed for what they did while under its influence, especially considering that previously, any hero who was brainwashed, possessed, or mind controlled would be forgiven instantly, and that the Avengers welcomed Wanda Maximoff back with open arms after she caused the events that lead up to this happening, simply because she was manipulated by Doctor Doom (which was a massive Retcon that really doesn't make any sense at all). Simply put, the way they'e being treated following this event is really, really unfair.
    • It's possible that when Iron Man split the Phoenix into five, its power weakened to a level where it couldn't completely overwhelm its host. Even after they get the power, the Phoenix Five are still shown to retain their basic personalities, so it's perfectly possible they are in control of their actions. It's only after Cyclops becomes the sole host of the Phoenix that it totally possesses him. This theory is supported by the epilogue, where Scott says he would never have hurt Xavier (implying the Phoenix made him do that), but he does take full responsibility of what he did before becoming the Dark Phoenix.
    • There's also the simple fact that what they did as the Phoenix Five - turning the world into a police state - was wrong, regardless of whether or not they were possessed (or as Captain America put it, played Russian roulette with the world). There's also the fact that the Phoenix feeds off whatever emotions are in its host or hosts, meaning that the so called Pax Utopia was a rather elaborate way of punishing the human race for the way they mistreated mutants by forcing them into a world where they had no free will when you scratched the surface.
      • Was the world a police-state? There's still crime and villains, as evidenced when Iron Fist's team goes on an AIM-thwarting mission and then runs into the Zzzaks. Colossus showed up, but solved everything peacefully and, according to Iron Fist himself, to the Zzzaks' satisfaction (so apparently they weren't coerced or bullied into cooperating.) They end war, famine, energy crises, for all mutants and humans alike, without prejudice.. The only instance of a police-state punishment was Emma killing that one murderer... but even that happened after the Five started getting taken out by the avengers, increasing the Phoenix's influence on everyone. At one point, we even see Emma and Scott leisurely lounging about in Utopia, reading quietly and doing crossword puzzles at home, which doesn't seem like the attitude of a police-state dictator.
      • It's not a police-state per se, but they did claim stewardship of the whole world. A group of people deciding that they're going to change the world in the ways they see fit, because they have the power and others don't, is a form of dictatorship no matter how nice they are about it.
      • They took stewardship over war. The world was explicitly free to do anything else as it saw fit, just not to senselessly slaughter each other. Some would argue that it is a very important caveat.
      • Except the world wasn't 'free' - they put a stop to war by figuratively putting guns to both side's heads. Even with the noblest of intentions, that's not any form of actual peace, that's just a standoff with one side holding the biggest stick. One might argue that's a price worth paying, but then people do have a right to be intimidated and concerned about what they decide to do with that big stick if both sides still don't want to get along.
      • The same way the Avengers (and superheroes in general) deter crime, in other words. It's really really hard to make that argument in a genre founded on people using their superior powers or skills to enforce morality.
      • The Avengers were concerned that while the Phoenix Five may have been acting benevolently at the moment they could have lost control and gone Dark Phoenix at any point. Granted continued antagonism likely made that a certainty rather than just a probable conclusion.
      • It should be noted that the X-Men were fighting so fiercely in the first place because they believed the Phoenix Force would restore mutantkind but the Phoenix Five do absolutely nothing towards that end. Getting that kind of power and not using it for the purpose you've been zealously fighting for is more than likely to make people nervous than welcoming.
        • This is explained In-Universe as them being unable to - and in the end, it takes both Hope with the full Phoenix and Wanda working together to break the "No More Mutants" spell.
      • Really? I for one (if I were one of those bigotted people) would be relieved rather than concerned. Their first priority isn't just their own survival anymore, they use their god-given powers to enrich the world as a whole, including the humans, who have not treated them very well until now.
  • The way the various mystical and cosmic powers are used in the story is pretty inconsistent. In one issue, Iron Fist is able to hurt one of the Phoenix Five when no one else can, so it seems the power of Iron Fist can somehow damage the Phoenix. But later on we learn that techniques taught in K'un L'un only help the person the Phoenix inhabits to control the Phoenix Force so it won't corrupt her. So why was Iron Fist able to hurt the Phoenix? Later on, it's said the powers of the Scarlet Witch and the Phoenix are like Yin and Yang... But Scarlet Witch is a Reality Warper, while the Phoenix deals with death and rebirth, and if there's some way these two seemingly unrelated powers are direct opposites, it certainly isn't explained in the story. Finally, it takes the combined power of the Scarlet Witch and the Phoenix to restore the number of mutants to the level it was before House of M. But in that story, Scarlet Witch erased those mutants all by herself, so why wasn't she able to restore them by herself? Why was the Phoenix needed for that?
    • See The Children's Crusade. When Wanda changed all reality and depowered mutants, she was tapping on a special power which is now lost for her. She's not as insanely powerful as she was back then, but she's still incredibly powerful as she was before all those things. She's not a reality warper anymore, she's "just" a witch with mutant powers and knowledge of the arcane arts, who can even manipulate the magic of Chton (which is much indeed: in Heroes Return, without reality warping powers herself, she single-handedly defeated the reality warper Morgan Le Fey at the peak of her power). And yes, "it was said" that the powers of the Scarlet Witch and the Phoenix were like a Yin and a Yang... but who said it? An expert, like Iron First? No, Tony Stark, a scientist who had always dismissed those things, until science was not enough and had to seek solutions somewhere else. In other words: an amateur.
    • He may just have meant that Wanda deactivated the mutant gene, while the Phoenix reactivated it.
  • Isn't the whole premise of the conflict suspect? The Avengers are presuming that the approaching Phoenix Force will take over Hope, and there's a good chance that she'll end up killing billions, just as Dark Phoenix did. If all else fails, at least Wolverine is willing to kill Hope to prevent this. Now, there are a couple of flaws in this thinking: 1) The Dark Phoenix did not take over Jean Grey, but mimicked her body and mind. The real Jean Grey was at this point badly hurt by radiation, and placed in a healing coma. Trying to kill Hope might make the situation worse, as now the Phoenix Force would encounter a near-death/recently deceased Hope instead of a living and healthy one, and might again try to mimic her form. 2) Rachel Summers was possessed by the Phoenix Force for some time. She did not turn into an insane mass murderer. Quite the opposite, as she sacrificed her life to stop the "Anti-Phoenix" Necrom and place in the timestream for Brian Braddock. 3) Killing a Phoenix host absolutely never, ever works. This is an entity based on life and resurrection, and usually, attempts by Wolverine to do just that get him fried or do very little.
    • The Avengers approach to the whole deal might be to blame on the advice given by their mutant "consultant" Wolverine. Him living in an school named after the dead wife of the guy they want to talk to, a school he founded, should have been a big flag that his opinions may have been biased on this issue. And we all know what happens when that guy has even so much as "mixed feelings" towards someone.
    • The idea that the Dark Phoenix mimicked Jean Grey's body and mind was a convoluted retcon used to bring the "real" Jean back, and it seems writers these days tend to treat it with Broad Strokes. Unlike Jean's resurrection, the original The Dark Phoenix Saga is one of the best-known superhero comics of all time, and the idea that Jean was human who was corrupted by omnipotence makes much more sense than a omnipotent being imitating a human and being corrupted by its own omnipotence (or, as the Phoenix suggested in Excalibur, by the intoxicating nature of human life and emotions), so that aspect tends to get ignored nowadays. As for Rachel, she was an adult who had learned to control herself the hard way, having grown up in the dystopian "The Days of Future Past", so arguably her being able to handle the Phoenix doesn't mean Hope could do the same. I think this issue us even brought up briefly, where Logan or someone else in the Avengers team says Rachel is "tough"; apparently the writers realized Rachel's past control of the Phoenix was a potential plot hole, so they needed to Hand Wave it. Really, though, the whole problem rises from the fact that Marvel writers have been pretty inconsistent in explaining what the Phoenix force is and what it does. Sometimes it's treated as a benevolent life force, sometimes as a life-consuming threat, so potential plot holes like these are bound to come up.
    • Also, nobody, except perhaps Feron had ever managed to use even a piece of the Phoenix Force without succumbing to insanity or proving unusually susceptible to mind control. Even Rachel Summers fell under the influence of characters like Selene, Spiral, Modred the Mystic and Mastermind at various points in her career, despite her psionic prowess. In fact, it has been speculated that being the host of the Phoenix Force in some way diminished her mental defenses! Hope, especially at her age, could potentially become just another cosmic football for assorted psychic and/or mystic entities looking for a pawn possessed of effectively limitless power.
    • Another important note about Rachel, although it is not clear whether or not what she learned was ever widely shared with others. But the Phoenix is no different than Galactus. It is not an unlimited power source unto itself, it draws upon Life Energy. After Rachel/Phoenix defeated him, Galactus pointed out to it that while he draws his power from consuming living beings and worlds, the Phoenix gets its power by drawing upon the energy reserved for future life! So he kills life that exists in the present, the Phoenix denies life to future generations! Which is kind of ironic for an alleged agent of evolution.
    • In that same issue, it was pretty explicitly stated that overusing its power had that effect. As for Rachel, the Phoenix had such formidable psychic defences that when Xavier tried to get into Rachel's mind after her battle with Necrom to find out what had happened, he got stonewalled for ten hours without even realising it, before being attacked by constructs of his students, then summarily ejected, unaware of how much time had passed. Instead, it's rather more likely that her susceptibility to mind control has something to do with Ahab turning her into a Hound.
  • Ok, I freely admit that I wasn't a devout follower of comics between Civil War and Avengers vs. X-men so maybe I missed something, but can someone explain to me why Reed Richards seems to have done a complete 180 vis a vis the "picking a side" issue? He outright states he doesn't want to pick sides against friends of the family, but he seemed quite willing to throw more than a few of them into the negative zone back in Civil War, simply because it "was the law."
    • Character Development. He took a long vacation with Sue because he realised he was being an idiot (again).
  • When Black Panther and Storm originally got married, the Watcher visited the wedding, marking it as an important event. Later, the two met him again, and he told them that their future children will also be important. So what will happen to those important future children now, since the Panther and Storm are no longer married?
    • A writer who was a teenager when they were married will start working at Marvel and they will get remarried.
  • As expected it is fortunately back by now, but if you just look back: What the hell were the Avengers thinking when they tried to kill the Phoenix Force? Stop it would have been one thing, but outright destroying it? The Phoenix Force is a Force of cosmic balance, as well as the agent of Life, Death, Rebirth and most importantly Evolution. Uatu once outright said that if the Phoenix would be destroyed, all life in the universe would inevitably follow.
    • Frankly, what the Phoenix is tends to vary widely by stories to the point where X-fans have trouble keeping up with it. In some it is a powerful alien entity, in others it has some sort of connection to life and evolution, and in others it is basically God. It also does not attend the meetings of other cosmic entities like Eternity, Death and Galactus. Heck, Galactus wasn't sure what it was when he met it and he talks regularly with Death and Eternity. In many ways it was almost unique to the X-Men's corner of the universe. Considering most of the Avengers involved are not experts in the fundamental forces of the universe or at best have heard of Eternity and the others they probable thought it was just a really powerful alien entity, that it could not be fully killed only banished, or that another cosmic entity would fulfil its role. Afterall, Eternity embodies life, Mistress Death embodies death, the Celestials oversee evolution, and these entities balance each other. In many ways the Phoenix is redundant.
    • The Avengers were getting all their Phoenix related information from Wolverine, who's got a very narrow and very biased view of the Phoenix, and certainly doesn't know about (or necessarily believe in) its cosmic significance. Plus, they realised this later, with Tony noting in his solo series that what he did when he split the Phoenix was incredibly stupid.
  • Why didn't Hope revive Xavier? She had the Phoenix, she was in complete control, and the man was lying right there. The Phoenix has been shown to be powerful enough to revive the dead before: primarily Jean, but also Emma and Sophie. Why draw the line at Xavier?
  • There have been dozens of "Well-meaning person gets Godlike Powers and tries to remake the World into Utopia, whether the World likes it or not" storylines in the history of Marvel universe. It has always ended poorly. Every. Single. Damn. TIME. Yet we're supposed to believe that any sane resident of Earth-616 should be expected to give the Phoenix Five a chance because this time might be different? And the Avengers are "Just as Much To Blame!" for the conflict, because they DIDN'T? That's about as plausible as suggesting that the masked gunman who just burst into the bank maybe wants to open a bank account, and the security guard is unreasonable for assuming otherwise.
    • The Phoenix 5 didn't hurt anybody, and the Avengers plotted to kill them. That DOES make them just as much to blame. Common sense.
      • The masked gunman at the bank hasn't hurt anyone yet either. He hasn't even had time to announce it's a stickup yet, so he MIGHT be there to calmly open a checking account for himself. Oh, and he's just running because he's in a hurry. Yet that mean ol' security guard is already shouting at the poor masked man to drop his gun or he'll shoot. Is it "common sense" to blame the resulting shootout, even partially, on the guard for jumping to conclusions? Even if by some freakish chance our hypothetical masked gunman was really there for some reason other than robbery, no sane resident of real-world contemporary Earth would blame the guard for assuming he wasn't.
      • False equivalency. The Phoenix 5 helped the world and even the Avengers themselves in defeating supervillains, despite the previous battle. All the supposed 'justified mistrust' comes AFTER the Avengers once again attacked them without provocation, thus turning it into a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. The Phoenix HAS, in canon, been wielded in a non-world-threatening manner, as Rachel Grey can attest. Hell, the mere fact that just after this very event, the Avengers are willing to take Captain Universe, a cosmic entity of very comparable power to the Phoenix, into their ranks shows what a bunch of hypocrites they were here. I think Reed Richards put it best in the Avengers tie-in of the event: They weren't worried of the P5 losing control, they were worried of becoming irrelevant themselves.