For some time now I have wanted to write a series of articles based around the Disney Animated Canon. These articles were intended to take a look at how those movie characters were portrayed in other mediums, including their respective source material which influenced the films. It was also intended to be a good reason to rewatch some classic movies and write about Disney’s modern take on these fairy tale characters in ABC’s Once Upon A Time. But even before all of that, back when Disney acquired Marvel in 2009, I wanted to do a mash-up of the Disney and Marvel Universes. So now I am just going to combine it all into one series of articles. Naturally, we will start at the beginning with the first ladies of the Disney princesses and X-Men, Snow White and Jean Grey, respectively.
Snow White and Jean Grey have a lot more in common than one may think at first, at least in their early days. Once Upon a Time, as well as movies like Snow White and the Huntsman, have been attempting to turn Snow White into an older, warrior princess who can track in the wilderness and shoot a bow as if trained by Robin Hood himself. I did not think it worked in either of those versions. One reason for that could be Snow White’s eternal image as that lost, little girl who was gentle and kind to the small creatures of the forest.
Still, it’s those early years that tie these two characters together. When Jean Grey first moved into the X-Mansion she was meek and shy; trying to learn and control these powers she possessed. She was in a new home, surrounded by unfamiliar companions. Jean eventually grew into that fiery, tragic hero for which she is now more commonly known, but Snow White still awkwardly struggles with the fiercer and older characterization.
The common ingredient to those origin stories are the supporting characters. Be it dwarves, mutants or bandits, one or more of those companions was getting friendzoned. Snow White and Jean Grey had to of known what their presence was doing to those poor schmucks, especially Jean, who possesses telepathy. In the early days of the X-Men, Angel, Beast and Iceman argued and fought for Jean Grey’s attention. And in Disney’s animated version, Dopey kept trying to get more kisses out of Snow White before hi-ho’ing it to work. That’s too bad for them though, because normally Snow and Jean will be waiting for that handsome prince or Boy Scout to come sweep them off their feet. That would be Prince Cyclops.
But like other parts of this fairy tale, aspects are often modified for current times. So every now and then, Snow or Jean will run off with the Woodsman (ironically played by Thor in Snow White and the Huntsman), one of the bandits, or that short, grumpy dwarf. You know the one. Wolverine.
One of the other “uncanny” similar traits is their connection to a manipulative queen. In Snow White’s case it’s her cruel stepmother who is jealous of her beauty. The Evil Queen tries to kill Snow White on multiple occasions in an attempt to be the fairest in the land. Jean, on the other hand, tangles with the White Queen of the Hellfire Club, Emma Frost. Besides being on opposing teams, Emma, another telepath, eventually joins the X-Men and lures Jean’s Prince Cyclops away with the help of an unsavory, telepathic affair.
This affair between Cyclops and the White Queen leads us to the most defining characteristic between these two heroines; Jean and Snow’s penchant for death and rebirth. Snow White is associated with the poisonous apple, given to her by her stepmother, the Evil Queen. The apple knocks her out until true love’s kiss; but that is not the only time something like this had happened. In the original story, Snow White “died” and came back to life two other times. Once, she used a cursed hairbrush. The next time it was a bedeviled ribbon. Both of those items, like the apple, were given to her by the Queen in disguise. And both times the dwarves had to save her, reminding her not to accept gifts from strange old ladies peddling their wares in the middle of the woods. (Also to note of the original tale, the prince merely dislodged the poisonous apple from Snow’s throat by dropping her coffin. There was no necrophilia-kissing involved. He originally just wanted to keep her dead body on display in his castle or something. Weird.)
Now Jean Grey, also known as Phoenix and commonly coupled with the cosmic Phoenix Force entity, is the poster child for the term “Comic Book Death.” Jean, currently dead in the comics, is synonymous for dying and returning to life. It’s not a question of “if” but “when,” when discussing Jean’s return. Unfortunately, her last death came after the aforementioned affair between her prince and the queen. Sure, Cyclops and Emma may have practically made out over Jean’s buried body, but she had given Cyclops her telepathic blessing from beyond the grave. That’s okay though I’m sure, because when Jean does return, everybody will want Jean and Grumpy to be together anyway.