X-Men 97: Episode 1 Review

To Me, My X-Men

The animated X-Men are back as Disney Plus unveils a new animated series called X-Men 97. The series picks up where the Fox animated series ended in 1996.

The team must try to figure out how to function with Professor Xavier who is presumed dead as the series premier. Cyclops leads the team but Jean Gray is pregnant and trying to convince him to leave and raise the kid elsewhere. Meanwhile, Storm, Bishop, Morph, Wolverine, Jubilee, Rogue and Gambit look to the future as Xavier has left his school to Magneto.

Return of the X-Men

Fans of the original animated series, like myself, remember the original series ending with Professor X going to space. Whether he actually died is never revealed, and while he is being presented as dead in the first episode, it’s only a presumption for viewers at this point. It’s still clear there will be a lot of changes moving forward as this series adjusts for modern audiences while adhering to its period setting.

This series has already introduced a new character as well as giving the X-Men new ideas to ponder about their futures. Sentinel tech is in the hands of humans afraid of being annihilated. It’s been hinted that some of the X-Men will lose their powers due to these actions. It'’ll be interesting to see who it will be. Plus, there’s the obvious differences between Cyclops and Wolverine. Cyclops is the boy scout who does everything by the book. Wolverine is the rule breaker who does the right thing but doesn’t always use the right methods. It’s the Captain America vs. Iron Man dynamic all over again.

Political Undertones

The first episode deals with a violent fight between mutants and humans without powers where there’s a clear prejudice from the humans against the mutants. Some may not like the political undertones, but many of their complaints reveal their ignorance from the original series, the movies and the comics.

X-Men has always tackled racism and bigotry head-on. While using mutants as a backdrop, it’s pretty obvious there’s always been political undertones. Magneto and Professor X are examples of two men who have lived through similar experiences as mutants and taken different routes for how to handle it. They are yin and yang. Granted, Magneto is also a European Jew who survived the Holocaust, and that shaped his mistrust as much as his experience as a mutant. But everything from the first issue of X-Men has political undertones. If that’s your complaint, maybe pick a different comic.

What’s Next?

The X-Men are my absolute favorite team in superhero comics and the X-Men Animated Series was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid. There’s a lot of nostalgia that works for me in the first episode. However, nostalgia can only go so far when watching a new series as an adult.

The animated series differed from the comics allowing it to be a fun series inspired by the comics while very much being its own thing. The movies were a little more faithful in adaptation than the series, but they veered into their own territory with some outings being amazing and others being bad on all levels. The real question for this series is what’s next?

Does X-Men 97 try to continue the same story as the original X-Men Animated Series? Or does it build to its own storyline with its ties to the original series being a jumping off point? I want the latter. This series needs its connections, yes, but it needs to be its own. The best reboots of 90s series were the ones that paid homage while being their own story. The worst were the ones that just rehashed what was successful 20 years ago.

Some of my friends say this is the best show ever made for Disney Plus. I’m not willing to go that far. Others have said it’s the best animated show made for Disney Plus. I may be willing to go that far, but I need to see more before I make that declaration. Still, it’s a strong start.

Catch X-Men 97 streaming only on Disney Plus.

Article Written By: Jeremy Brown for Stelmach Brown Media 2024

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