Will Eleven be the final villain of Stranger Things?
Some sneaky X-Men hints – and the events of Stranger Things 4 – seem to be setting up Millie Bobby Brown’s character as the ultimate Big Bad. **Contains spoilers for Stranger Things 4**
Netflix’s Stranger Things 4 added a new villain to the roster of previous baddies The Demogorgon and the Mind Flayer, with psychic octopus-man Vecna becoming just the latest Dungeons and Dragons-named baddie to torment the kids of Hawkins, Indiana.
But could he just be paving the way for an even more powerful threat with a more familiar face? Because certain hints in Stranger Things 4 have us wondering if the fifth and final season will see our heroes take on one of their own – Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven.
Confused? Well, let’s dive into the clues below but beware – we’re dealing with spoilers from Stranger Things 4 part 1 here, so read on at your peril.
**Spoiler warning for Stranger Things season 4 part 1**
Will Eleven be the final villain of Stranger Things?
Basically, it all comes down to the X-Men. Stranger Things has long had a subtle Easter Egg connection to the classic mutant heroes, with the very first episode containing a reference to a comic-book issue (specifically, Uncanny X-Men No. 134) that Will (Noah Schapp) wants to borrow.
More like this
This isn’t just any X-Men comic. Specifically, this issue kicked off the classic Dark Phoenix arc where team member Jean Grey succumbed to the temptations of her power and was possessed by a genocidal God that the other X-Men had to defeat. It’s a popular, hugely respected story that’s been adapted for the screen twice, albeit poorly – but Stranger Things might now be doing its own version of it.
Obviously, Eleven can be compared to Jean Grey. They can both move objects with their minds (aka telekinesis) and have other psychic abilities. Even their names are similar – in public life Eleven goes by Jane, which rearranges to (and sounds similar to) Jean.
Of course, other parts of Eleven’s story are very different to Jean’s – but we can’t help but wonder if they’re headed in a similar direction. After all, it’s hard to ignore the significance of the so-called ‘Hellfire Club’ in this season of Stranger Things, with the demonically-dubbed Dungeons and Dragons club getting several of our heroes in trouble during season 4.
We’re more interested in the name. In the X-Men comics, the Hellfire Club are an elite group of humans and mutants who often function as villains to the main X-team, and they play a significant role in Jean’s Dark Phoenix transformation.
In the story, a mutant who can cast illusions (called Mastermind) tries to brainwash Jean to help him get accepted into the Hellfire Club, making Jean relive what she believes are past memories to turn her to his will. In these illusions, she too was part of the Hellfire Club (specifically their Black Queen), and helped Mastermind defeat the X-Men.
Now think back to Stranger Things 4. In Vecna, we have a villain who can cast convincing illusions into the minds of his victims. We have a young psychic reliving old memories. In One/Vecna himself, we have the prospect of a psychic powerhouse going rogue and becoming a terrifying monster themselves.
Will Eleven become like Dark Phoenix in X-Men?
All the building blocks from Dark Phoenix are there – and the reference to the Hellfire Club can’t be a coincidence. Even the way Eleven pins One against the wall in Stranger Things 4 episode 7 evokes a panel from the Dark Phoenix comics, where Jean eventually snaps and turns against her tormentor before destroying his mind.
While we’re sure Stranger Things won’t go down the exact same route as Dark Phoenix, it’s possible the show could cover some similar ground. We’ve had the idea seeded this season that Eleven herself could be a threat, first with the fakeout of the murdered children and then by the military, who think she’s behind the murders in Hawkins.
What if this actually comes true for Stranger Things 5, the final season coming after this one? Jean Grey turned against the X-Men after she was possessed by a violent space-God, suffered from mental abuse and saw the man she loved die (in one of Mastermind’s illusions). Eleven could fall victim to Vecna’s illusions or find herself a host (like Will in season two) for the Mind Flayer or another Upside-Down nasty. And in Finn Wolfhard’s Mike, we could see another romantic casualty to flip her over the edge.
Look, all of this might be a bit of a stretch. There are other X-Men references in Stranger Things (like Dustin calling his radio tower Cerebro after Professor X’s mutant-finding computer), and the Hellfire Club/Dark Phoenix Easter Eggs might be nothing more than nods to another story about a telekinetic girl.
But you have to wonder. What better way to send off Stranger Things in season 5 than for the series’ main hero to become the final threat (or at least, have her possessed by it)? What more momentous or terrifying foe could the Duffer Brothers create than Eleven, who’s seen off every other monster so far?
All we’re saying is that it might be time to crack open some of your old Chris Claremont comics. The clues are all there if you look for them.
Read more of our Stranger Things coverage:
- Stranger Things fans go wild for Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill after iconic scene
- Where did Stranger Things leave off? Recap ahead of season 4
- Meet the cast of Stranger Things season 4
- How Stranger Things 4 was inspired by real Dungeons & Dragons panic
- When is Stranger Things season 4 volume 2 released on Netflix?
- Who is Vecna in Stranger Things season 4? Explaining new villain
- Who is Joseph Quinn? Meet Eddie in Stranger Things season 4
- Stranger Things season 4 part 1 ending explained: What happened to Eleven?
- Who plays 001 in Stranger Things 4? Meet actor Jamie Campbell Bower
- What is the Stranger Things age rating? Fans say season 4 is 'scariest' yet
- Will Nancy and Steve get back together in Stranger Things?
- Stranger Things 4 soundtrack: every song featured in the Netflix show
- Who is Eduardo Franco? Meet Argyle in Stranger Things season 4
Stranger Things 4 is now streaming on Netflix, with part 2 coming on July 1st. For more, check out our dedicated Sci-Fi page or our full TV Guide. Check out our guides to the best series on Netflix and the best movies on Netflix.
- Sign up for Netflix from £6.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.
The latest issue of Radio Times magazine is on sale now – subscribe now and get the next 12 issues for only £1. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to the Radio Times podcast with Jane Garvey.