Fear, Hatred, Love, Action: The X-Men Return Gloriously In Brand New Show

by Ben Schoenberg ’24

Created by writer and producer Beau DeMayo, X-Men ‘97 streaming on Disney+ crafts the perfect superhero show the likes of which Marvel hasn’t done in years. Starting development in 2021, the show serves as a continuation of the iconic 90’s cartoon which ended in 1997 and sees the return of several original voice actors such as Cal Dodd (Wolverine), Lenore Zann (Rogue), and Alison Sealy-Smith (Storm), amongst others. While using many of the original show’s characters, designs, and themes, X-Men ‘97 tells brand new stories with a mature tone instead of relying on nostalgia like many reboots or continuation of old properties do.

Told in three-episode arcs, the show adapts several iconic X-Men storylines such as “Inferno,” “Fatal Attractions,” “E is for Extinction,” and “Operation: Zero Tolerance” with the X-Men facing off against villains such as Mr. Sinister, Bastion, and humanity itself as they face some of their toughest battles yet. One of the greatest strengths of the show is the ability to tell bold and complex stories that can engage and surprise long time fans. Furthermore, the show excels in portraying the struggle and desperation the mutants must face when constantly persecuted against by humanity and how they must not stoop to humanity’s worst traits. With such a large cast of characters to handle such as the X-Men, it could have been challenging to capture every character accurately and give them depth to make them stand out. But not only does X-Men ‘97 manage to do so, it also handles several fan favorite characters with the gravitas and respect they deserve. In this show the leader of the X-Men, Cyclops (Ray Chase), finally gets to shine after twenty years of being pushed to the sidelines in movies and once again Magneto (Matthew Waterson) stands out as one of the most
morally complex characters.

Using a style of mixed cgi and cellshading, X-Men ‘97’s animation looks like a comic book come to life and sets a high standard for Marvel animation going forward. Due to censorship, the original show could only do so much with its action scenes, meaning that without limitations the new show’s action is limitless and looks dynamic. DeMayo knows these characters in and out as he is able to show off the powers of decades-old characters in ways that have never been done before.

In ten episodes Marvel was able to accomplish what they’ve been struggling to do since Avengers Endgame in regards to telling an excellent superhero story while establishing a larger world around it. Scattered throughout the show are several cameos from other heroes such as Captain America, Spiderman, and Daredevil, which fleshes out the world the show takes place in to give a true comic book feel. Moving forward, hopefully Marvel learns a couple lessons from the show’s success and keeps up the quality for the next two seasons.

Grade: A+