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X-MEN ’97 Is Outshining the Rest of the MCU and Here’s Why

Chances are that if you’re of a certain age, you’ll have spent many a morning pressed up against the television, munching a bowl of Coco Pops in your Spider-Man pajamas and waiting for X-Men: The Animated Series to start. Running for five seasons and 76 episodes, this colorful cartoon caper packed Charles Xavier’s Gifted Youngsters into even more colorful spandex.

Long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe assembled the Avengers, the Marvel Animated Universe united the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and the X-Men. The latter’s success undoubtedly led to 2000’s live-action X-Men, which in turn kickstarted our ongoing obsession with comic book movies. 

All these years later, as the once-unflappable MCU struggles with juggling the box office alongside a slate of Disney+ shows multiplying faster than Multiple Man, X-Men ‘97 is giving us more than just the sweet scent of nostalgia. In fact, this trip down memory lane is better than anything the MCU has produced in recent memory. 

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An animated Infinity War




Despite only being set a year after the events of The Animated Series‘ “Graduation Day” finale, X-Men ‘97 feels like a much more mature affair. Jubilation “Jubilee” Lee (now voiced by Holly Chou) feels like she’s grown. No longer the newcomer, Jubilee has taken Sunspot under her wing — possibly teasing a New Mutants spin-off to make up for the flaws of Josh Boone’s live-action attempt. 

Nods to other teams like Xavier’s original X-Men and the X-Force are mixed with cameos from a certain wall-crawling hero and patriotic Avenger to set the stage for a much wider world of animated mutant adventures. This seems increasingly likely, considering producer Brad Winderbaum told ComicBook.com that X-Men ’97 Season 3 has already been given the green light. What’s most amazing is that X-Men ‘97 has a scope that’s on par with even the biggest Avengers movies. 


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We’ll remember “Remember It”




While it’s hard to pick a ‘best’ MCU movie, you’d be hard-pushed to find one much better than 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. The third Avengers movie is immortalized by Thanos’ snap, which turned the competition to dust and is remembered as one of the most iconic movie moments of all time. For those who’ve been sleeping on X-Men ‘97, season 1 has already reached similar highs. 

X-Men ‘97’s “Remember It” serves as the revival’s own Infinity War. As well as cueing Charles Xavier’s return after his cliffhanger ending in The Animated Series, we waved goodbye to series staples including Gambit. More than delivering a gut-punch twist no one saw coming, Episode 5’s animation style put the MCU’s recent over-reliance on CGI to shame. Up there with The Simpsons’ “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part One” and BoJack Horseman’s “The View from Halfway Down”, there’s something wrong if history doesn’t look back on “Remember It” as one of the greatest cartoon episodes of all time. 



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X marks the spot


It’s fair to say Phase 5 of the MCU (dubbed Phase Zero as something of a reset) has had a lukewarm reception. Aside from Loki season 2 as an outlier, the likes of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Secret Invasion have been struck by some of the franchise’s worst reviews. Added to this, there’s been an increase in complaints about the MCU going “woke,” with The Marvels and Echo largely being (unfairly) panned for their female-first stories. 

X-Men ‘97 has kept The Animated Series‘ strong ensemble of male and female characters, but apart from the odd grumble about Morph being non-binary, the discourse has largely been confined to a few angry YouTube videos. The X-Men have always represented diversity, and unlike Eternals awkwardly shoehorning in Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry) as the MCU’s first openly gay hero, Morph has easily fit into the group. 






There are all the usual powerhouse performances from Storm, Jean, and the rest of the women, however, it’s been a particularly strong season for Lenore Zann’s fan-favorite Rogue. Given Rogue’s legacy from The Animated Series and how Fox did Anna Paquin’s live-action version dirty, it’s refreshing that X-Men ’97 isn’t taking the easy route by putting emphasis on the overly manly Wolverine to hyping Hugh Jackman’s imminent MCU debut.

Boasting largely the same cast as X-Men: The Animated Series, X-Men ‘97 feels familiar yet fresh. It’s this nostalgia that Deadpool & Wolverine is seemingly relying on, bracing us for a who’s who of famous faces from the past of the MCU and beyond — yes, Jennifer Garner is back as Elektra. It’s similar to how What…If? has earned rave reviews for bringing back characters we’ve learned to love since the MCU’s inception. 

Comic book stories like Storm losing her powers and the controversial introduction of Madelyne Pryor slot in beside massive arcs like Grant Morrison’s cataclysmic “E is for Extinction” or Fabian Nicieza and Scott Lobdell’s “Fatal Attractions.”  All have been squeezed down to 30-minute episodes instead of being bloated MCU movies, done without feeling like X-Men ‘97 is overstuffed. There’s a reason that we’ve had two failed live-action adaptations of “The Dark Phoenix Saga” while X-Men: The Animated Series soared with its own take in 1994. 

The New Mutants 


From the “video game” episode. Marvel


After the fumbles of Dark Phoenix brought Fox’s stewardship of the X-Men to a close in underwhelming style, spirits are raised that Disney knows what it’s doing with its mutants.  MCU overlord Kevin Feige has been teasing the X-Men since Disney acquired Fox in 2019, and with no official news on when they’ll make their debut, X-Men ‘97 can carry the torch.

If the series can keep season 1’s quality, hype for the X-Men could be at an all-time high. That’s before we get to casting their live-action counterparts, with everyone from Henry Cavill to Halle Berry, Taylor Swift to Giancarlo Esposito causing a stir. 

Importantly, X-Men ‘97 is a fun watch that could have some actual ramifications for the mainline MCU. After Feige told Entertainment Weekly we’d be seeing the X-Men “perhaps soon” in live-action, X-Men ’97 now sits in the “Multiverse Saga” section of Disney+’s Marvel projects, and the X-Men Instagram has been officially renamed “Xmenofficial.”




Speaking of the eventual live-action return of the X-Men, X-Men ’97 directors Chase Conley and Emi Yonemura told Screen Rant they’d be interested in helming the expected standalone movie. We’re not the ones writing the checks, but like the brilliant brainwave that Sam Raimi could return to direct the next Spider-Man movie, we say sign them up. 

Whether X-Men ‘97 will be folded into all of this remains to be seen, but after Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness featured Patrick Stewart in Xavier’s yellow hoverchair, we’d be disappointed if the acclaimed animation wasn’t at least given the nod. In the meantime, the final episode of X-Men ‘97 looks like it’s heading toward an MCU-worthy finale that’ll put the franchise’s recent output to shame. As we cue that iconic theme tune,  seems our animated X-Men  finally might be getting the credit they deserve. 




Author’s Bio:


Based in Manchester, UK, Tom Chapman has over seven years’ experience covering everything from dragons to Demogorgons. Starting out with a stint at Movie Pilot in Berlin, Tom has since branched out to indulge his love of all things Star Wars and the MCU at Digital Spy, Den of Geek, IGN, Yahoo! and more. These days, you’ll find Tom channelling his inner Gale Weathers and ranting about how HBO did us dirty with Game of Thrones Season Eight.


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