Stranger Things’ First Marvel Reference Foreshadowed Eleven’s Powers

The first Marvel Comics reference in Stranger Things foreshadowed Eleven’s (Millie Bobby Brown) telekinetic powers. The show often embraces popular culture, unafraid to reference the media that influenced its creation. With Stranger Things acknowledging everything from E.T. to Halloween, it is no surprise that the kids at the show’s core are avid comic collectors. One comic book reference, in particular, hinted at Eleven’s powers before she appeared on-screen and may reveal the fate of the show’s heroine.

In Stranger Things, season 1, episode 1, “The Vanishing of Will Byers,” Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) compete for Dustin’s copy of Uncanny X-Men #134. Published in June 1980, X-Men #134 is the midway point in the famous Dark Phoenix Saga and the debut appearance of the titular villain. It is a pivotal issue in Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s series that sees X-Men member Jean Grey taken over by the Phoenix Force and turn on her teammates.

How X-Men #134 Connects To Stranger Things

Stranger Things has referenced X-Men #134 in a few ways. Jean Grey and Eleven have similar abilities and struggle to control and understand their powers. During their fight in the season 1 finale, Eleven pins the Demogorgon to a wall in a shot reminiscent of X-Men #134. In the comic, Jean Grey pins the Mastermind to the wall and overloads his brain with knowledge. Fast-forward to season 4 of Stranger Things, and the Dungeons & Dragons club that Mike (Finn Wolfhard), Will, and Dustin have joined is called the Hellfire Club. In X-Men #134, the Hellfire Club abducts the X-Men and inadvertently unleashes the Dark Phoenix.

Stranger Things 5 Can Pay Off Episode 1’s Dark Phoenix Reference

Stranger Things season 5 can pay off the show’s references to X-Men #134 by emulating Jean Grey’s story. By mirroring the corrupted mutant’s tragic fate, Stranger Things could conclude on a heart-breaking, definitive note. Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) and the Dark Phoenix are parasites, feeding off the fear and powers of others. With the Upside Down enveloping Hawkins, Vecna and his hive mind will be more powerful than ever in season 5, and Eleven’s connection to him is as likely to help her as harm her. Eleven’s attempts to kill Vecna could make her isolated from her friend group and susceptible to Vecna’s influence.

Eleven has a track record of trying to find answers by herself. In season 2, she leaves Hawkins to find fellow child experiment Eight, and in season 4, she leaves Mike and the Byers behind in California to get her powers back. Both situations prove dangerous, especially the latter, as it not only puts her on the U.S. Army’s radar but also reunites her with Dr. Brenner (Matthew Modine), who subsequently forces her back into his experiments. To prevent her friends from being harmed, Eleven could seek to increase her powers.

The Dark Phoenix Saga concludes with Jean Grey killing herself to stop the Dark Phoenix from taking over and wreaking more havoc. Likewise, Stranger Things season 5 could see Eleven overwhelmed with power that she cannot control. As Vecna’s influence grows in Hawkins, Eleven may find herself torn between fighting Vecna herself or with allies. If Stranger Things commits to its Dark Phoenix parallels, then increasing Eleven’s powers will surely come at a cost. Either her friends are hurt due to her powers, or Eleven is. To defeat Vecna, Eleven might have to use her newfound strength to extinguish the Upside Down once-and-for-all, sacrificing herself in the process.







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