The Dark Phoenix Saga, Part Two: The Inner CircleReturn to X-Men Comparisons: Comics to Cartoon
Comparison By A. Magik, Media By Stu and James Harvey
X-Men often adapted stories from the comic to the screen. But due to the different nature of each medium,
no episode could be directly translated. Presented in the list below is a list of changes from the comics to the
episode for "The Dark Phoenix Saga: The Inner Circle," based on events from Uncanny X-Men #132-134, created
by Chris Claremont and John Byrne.
-Both versions have Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, and Phoenix as members of the X-Men.
-Both versions have Sebastian Shaw/Black King, Emma Frost/White Queen, Harry Leland, Jason Wyngarde, and Donald Pierce as members of the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle.
-The Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle has captured the X-Men (except for Phoenix and Wolverine), putting them in chains and inhibitor devices that neutralize their powers. They are kept alive to be used as lab rats for experiments concerning genetic engineering.
-Phoenix, brainwashed by Jason Wyngarde, serves the Inner Circle as their Black Queen, with a costume to boot.
-Jason Wyngarde has ambitions to overthrow Shaw as Black King.
-The Hellfire Club has a blond, long-haired maid (is that the future Mrs. Robert Kelly?)
-Professor X is unable to contact the X-Men.
-Wolverine arises from the sewer system, attacking the Hellfire mercenaries sent to search for him. He frightens one mercenary into surrendering (by convincing him that fighting Wolverine is a no-win scenario). He makes his way through a dumbwaiter, but has to go through a group of club guards to reach the captive X-Men.
-Cyclops makes a failed attempt to free Phoenix by communicating with her through their psychic rapport. Entering the astral plane, Cyclops’ astral form walks into a trap by Wyngarde, designed to solidify his control of Phoenix. Wyngarde’s astral form transforms Cyclops into a Continental Army soldier and sword duels with him (the cartoon Wyngarde sabotages the duel by turning the environment against Cyclops). Wyngarde end the duel by stabbing Cyclops. The attack on Cyclop's astral self nearly kills him.
-Wolverine’s re-encounter with the Inner Circle signifies the moment for the liberated Phoenix to free the X-Men.
-Black Queen Phoenix flings Wolverine to the wall.
-The X-Men turns the tables on the Inner Circle, defeating them. However, Shaw and Pierce escape.
-Fight scenes adapted from the comic:
· Cyclops dropping Shaw by blasting a hole under him.
· Cyclops blasting Leland into the ballroom, where a party is happening.
· Donald Pierce getting his robot arm torn off while wrestling a strong X-Man.
· While Storm freezes him, Shaw gets foot-juggled by an X-Man. Shaw responds by foot grabbing the juggler and throwing him at Storm.
· Wolverine pounces upon Leland, who makes the mistake of using his mass-increasing powers on the X-Man. This causes the heavy Wolverine to crash on him.
Phoenix punishes Jason Wyngarde, making him experience life as a God, a shattering feeling that drives him comatose.
-The handsome form of Jason Wyngarde is actually an illusion, hiding an ugly person underneath.
-Phoenix is unable to control the dark feelings Wyngarde has opened from her. She goes insane, becoming Dark Phoenix!
-The comic book X-Men had Colossus and Nightcrawler instead of Gambit, Rogue, and Beast. Beast did appear in the comic book version. As an Avenger on monitoring duty, Beast receives a message from the NYPD, a report of the X-Men attacking the Hellfire Club (publicly seen as a human and innocent organization). Feeling loyal to his old team, Beast erases the message and goes off to see the truth.
-Unlike her cartoon counterpart, the White Queen doesn’t appear in this part of the saga in the comic. She gets shafted in the cartoon, running away without a fight, denied the battle with Phoenix she had (and narrowly escaped with her life) in part 1of the saga (comic book version).
-In the comic, Jason Wyngarde uses a device from the White Queen to monitor Phoenix’s thoughts. In the cartoon, he is assisted by the White Queen herself.
-For the sake of censors, the cartoon adaptation had to tone down Wolverine’s violent attack on the Hellfire mercenaries. In the comic, he disembowels three guards (they end up cyborgs later on).
-Cartoon Shaw is portrayed as an arrogant jerk who alienates his fellow comrades. The comic book Shaw respected his fellow members (especially Leland and Emma), if not wholly trusting them.
-Unlike his cartoon counterpart, comic book Shaw is fully aware that Jason Wyngarde is planning to overthrow him as Black King.
-The cartoon lacks a scene where Wyngarde has Black Queen Phoenix see the captive X-Men as apprehended Continental Army soldiers, with Storm as a slave.
-Until her freedom, Phoenix doesn't recognize Cyclops at all in the comic. In the cartoon, she appears to know him during the astral duel.
-No court-martial on Shaw happens in the comic.
-Unlike the cartoon, Wolverine’s appearance doesn’t free Phoenix. In the comic, it turns out that Wyngarde’s psychic duel with Cyclops had a different effect than he counted on, breaking (instead of solidifying) his control on Phoenix. Wolverine’s appearance only served as a signal for Phoenix to show her independence, not the making of it (telekinetically throwing Wolvie around was an act).
-In the comic, it was Colossus (not Rogue) who broke Pierce’s robot arm. Likewise, it was Nightcrawler (not Beast) who foot-juggled Shaw.
-The cartoon omits Phoenix’s terrified reaction to her descent to the dark side.
-Phoenix’s descent into Dark Phoenix is set differently. In the comic, it happens within the X-Men’s skycraft (blowing it up mid-air). In the cartoon, it happens at the Hellfire Club (no destruction).
-Jason Wyngarde, alias Mastermind, has been an old X-foe. He was a founding member of Magneto’s original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and has fought the X-Men other times as well. Hints to his identity in this saga appeared in the comic book version, with the ‘handsome’ Wyngarde casting a shadow that presents his real form. Wyngarde even presents his real form to Cyclops (who recognizes him instantly) before having Phoenix blast him senseless.
Wyngarde would recover from his catatonic state, though the memory of being a god haunted him, a great experience he will never feel again. His revenge plans varied from putting the White Queen in a catatonic state (she recovered), ruining Wolverine’s wedding to Mariko Yashida (and putting into motion the chain of events that led to her death), and trying to convince the X-Men that Cyclops’ Jean-lookalike fiancée Madelyne Pryor is Phoenix resurrected (fails, even though Madelyne is later revealed to be Jean’s clone). He would die from the Legacy Virus, his death witnessed by X-Men Bishop, Iceman, and Jean Grey, whom Wyngarde loved (not knowing about the Jean-wasn’t-Phoenix revelation).
-It appears the cartoon X-Men have seen the last of the Hellfire Club. Their comic counterparts wouldn’t be so lucky, as the Inner Circle would continue to plague the X-Men in later stories.
-Shaw would later be discharged by the Inner Circle (in New Mutants #75), from a unanimous vote by the White Queen (Emma Frost), the Black Queen (Selene), and the White King (Magneto).
-Storm would serve the Inner Circle, sharing the role of White King with Magneto.
-I don’t know for sure, but it’s possible that John Byrne’s design for the Black Queen’s costume (which was adapted to the cartoon) was based on a similar costume Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) wore as ‘The Queen of Sin’ in an episode of The Avengers, “A Touch of Brimstone,” which featured the Hellfire Club as villains.