In the latest issue of “Avengers,” the battle for the Phoenix intensifies, but the outcome may have already been revealed in a previous storyline.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Avengers #42, by Jason Aaron, Luca Maresca, David Curiel and VC’s Cory Petit, on sale now.

In current issues of Avengers, multiple Marvel heroes and villains are fighting one another to determine who will become the new human host of the Phoenix Force. The cosmic entity has selected multiple champions and, after they are each pitted against each other, it will bond with the victor. Already, Marvel has promised that an Avenger will become the new Phoenix, and fans are already theorizing as to who it will be. There are multiple Avengers currently involved in the fight for the Phoenix, which means any one of them could be the ultimate victor.

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However, all of the theorizing, guessing and betting might be moot. After all, it’s possible the outcome of the “Enter the Phoenix” storyline was determined years ago, when Old Man Phoenix was introduced in the Marvel Universe. If this theory turns out to be true, Wolverine may ultimately be the one the Phoenix chooses as its new host.

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Old Man Phoenix is an aging version of Wolverine who hails from the far future. The character first appeared in 2017’s Marvel Legacy #1, an issue that was written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Marvel’s biggest artists, including Esad Ribic, David Marquez and many others. Old Man Phoenix has since appeared in other titles, most notably in future segments of Jason Aaron’s overarching Thor saga.

This version of Wolverine bonded with the Phoenix after he mysteriously died. After becoming the cosmic entity’s new host, he lived for billions of years, teaming up with an aging King Thor at the near end of the universe, and joining forces with a new version of the Avengers to stop Doom the Living Planet (as seen in the recent Avengers #38).

Old Man Pheonix was introduced in a comic written by writer Jason Aaron, and he continued to appear in the writer’s other works. Now, a new Phoenix host is meant to be determined in Aaron’s upcoming Avengers #44. It’s therefore possible that the scribe is connecting all of these threads together.

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In Avengers #42, multiple other fights between potential Phoenix host contenders take place. Namor battles Echo under the sea, Jane Foster’s Valkyrie is pitted in a fight against She-Hulk, and Wolverine finally leaps into battle against Black Panther. Now that he’s been given the powers of the cosmic entity for his battle, Logan declares that he is now the Phoenix. But his fight is more personal: he has wielded its destructive power many times before, on a wide scale as well as on a personal level. He names Jean Grey, Rachel Summers and her family as well as Hope Summers as people who all paid the Phoenix’s price.

Now, Logan is in the position of preventing that from happening to anyone else ever again. In this contest, he may be the only one who fights for control of the Phoenix not for power, but as a sacrifice, so that it may not corrupt anyone else. And that may be what ultimately makes him the winner of this contest.

The Phoenix will bond with an Avenger and although Wolverine may not currently be one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes anymore, he was still a member of the team previously. Even though he is a member of the X-Men, he also qualifies as an Avenger. If he bonds with the cosmic entity, then we may finally witness the origin of Old Man Phoenix.

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