The Phoenix Force has known many hosts over the years, ranging from her iconic ties to Jean Gray to her modern connection to the Avengers through Echo. Across the multiverse, other heroes have also gained that incredible power — highlighting the inherent danger of that massive power boost. But one Omega-Level Mutant getting the Phoenix Force was enough to doom the entire world.
The world of Earth-13776 from What If…? AvX (by Jimmy Palmiotti, Jorge Molina, Norman Lee, Rachelle Rosenberg, and VC’s Clayton Cowles) took some particularly dark turns when Magneto took center-stage in the event, setting up a variant of the Master of Magnetism to become his world’s version of the Phoenix.
Events leading up to Avengers vs. X-Men largely took place the same on Earth-13776 as they had on the core Marvel Universe of Earth-616, up until the Avengers came to Utopia to confront the X-Men over the coming Phoenix Force. But rather than let Cyclops try to negotiate, Magneto instead volunteers himself, Namor, Storm, and Hope to do so. As tensions escalate and a fight breaks out, Magneto uses the chaos to force an attack that kills multiple heroes. Magneto, Hope, and Emma Frost embark on their own, knowing they’ll be hunted for this attack. Hope is able to claim the Phoenix Force for herself but is increasingly influenced by Magneto above anyone else.
This leads to Hope embracing the Phoenix Force with a grim mentality. She ultimately decides to wipe out humanity, along with any mutants standing in her way, starting with Emma Frost when she telepathically warns the X-Men. The global assault quickly kills scores of innocents. The battle against Magneto and Hope goes far worse than just combating the Dark Cyclops of AvX, with the pair slaughtering most of the heroes. As Hope loses control, Magneto kills her and takes the power for himself, infusing his Omega-Level abilities with the cosmic force. Magneto is quickly killed before he can fully realize his true potential, but the chain reaction destroys almost all life on Earth.
The idea of a Phoenix-Magneto is a horrifying one, given the history of both characters. Although the Phoenix Force can be aligned with the heroes and Magneto has heroic elements to him, as evidenced by his recent role in AX: Judgment Day, both are defined by their extremes. Magneto and the Phoenix Force both are shockingly destructive when they choose to be, capable of upending entire worlds on their own. This version of Magneto was even more casual with murder, disposing of young heroes like Nova with a simple flick of the wrist (in the same brutal manner he’d dispatch Tarn the Uncaring in X-Men Red).
It’s notable that even when compared to other major mutants, Magneto embraces the Dark Phoenix elements of the force incredibly quickly. It takes a slow corruption to break Cyclops, and other heroes like Jubilee have been able to take on the power and retain their heroism. But Magneto’s dark side, especially when amplified through the lens of the Phoenix Force, proves too destructive for the world to act. The only person to survive the blast is Wolverine, saved at the last moment by the reincarnation of Jean Grey. A Phoenix Magneto would be a universe-level threat, and even in death highlights how powerful (and destructive) both he and the cosmic force really are.