Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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The Top Five Reasons to Love X-Men ’97: Embrace the Nostalgia and New Adventures!

Streaming on: Disney+

Debut: March 20th

Starring: Ray Chase as Cyclops, Jennifer Hale as Jean Grey, Alison Sealy-Smith as Storm, Cal Dodd as Wolverine, JP Karliak as Morph, Lenore Zann as Rogue, George Buza as Beast, A.J. LoCascio as Gambit, Holly Chou as Jubilee, Isaac Robinson-Smith as Bishop, Matthew Waterson as Magneto, and Adrian Hough as Nightcrawler. 

As one of the most beloved animated series of the 1990s, X-Men: The Animated Series left an indelible mark on the hearts of fans worldwide despite some disappointment, mostly due to the series’ animation issues, as detailed here in CBR. Luckily for us X-Men fans and casual viewers alike, we are being treated to X-Men’97, and trust me, it delivers what I expected. Here are five reasons why the series is a must-watch!

#1. Animation

The biggest concern I had for the series was the animation. If you watched the final two seasons of the original series, you witnessed the animation’s decline and probably hoped to wipe it from your memory. However, the series has undergone a massive upgrade here. The characters are detailed, the movements organic, and the animation smooth. It reminds me of the animation used in the Marvel animated movies. The aesthetics and visuals of the environments are commendable and not distracting, adding to an enjoyable viewing experiece.

There are, though, a couple areas of the animation that slightly bother me, such as when the characters’ hair flows or when the wind blows, as it looks awkward. However, I can overlook these issues since the rest of the animation is excellent.

#2. Intro/Outro

Let’s start off with a little nostalgia. The series has “remixed” the intro and outro. The intro features the familiar theme, with a little more guitar riffs and other updated instruments in the theme song. So, of course, I was immediately thrust into my younger memories when the song came on. The new animation brings back each character’s intro during the opening theme, with their action pose and name displayed in a unique font behind them. It looks awesome. A few characters have been added to the mix, including Bishop, Morgue, and Magneto (who is added in the second episode).

Also, the recap of the previous episode that occurs at the start of each episode (which starts with “Previously on X-Men”) is brought back and features a different voice in each recap from one of the actors in the series. That’s vital to an X-Men episode because when you’re a kid, you forget stuff, and as an adult, well, you forget stuff!

Remember that cool end credits visual we saw in the original series with the 3-D image of the X-men spinning to the left side of the screen, displaying their costumes with their bio listed explaining their powers? (Whew that was a mouth-full) We’ll, it’s back and still looks cool, even without the 3-D animation!

Storm (voiced by Alison Sealy-Smith) in Marvel Animation’s X-MEN ’97. Photo courtesy of Marvel Animation. © 2024 MARVEL.

#3. Characters

X-Men ‘97 brings back characters like Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, Gambit, Rogue, Wolverine, Beast, Jubilee, and Magneto, with Bishop and Morgue. With the actors that previously voiced the characters returning, the series still has solid performances and allows the audience to get more invested in the characters, with each having their own internal battle outside of the usual discrimination from some of the humans.

Cyclops: I said in a social media post that I used to be a Cyclops fan, but as I got older and read more about him, I concluded that he is a bit of a jerk. He shows how much of a jerk he is in the series. With Professor X gone, he is now in charge of the X-Men, and he is not doing well with the task, which might be because of his current status with Jean. You’ll have to watch the series to find out what I’m talking about.

Jean Grey: Jean Grey has a lot to worry about starting off the series because she has “extra” responsibilities besides helping to calm Cyclops. Given that she is one of the original members of the X-Men with Cyclops and Beast, she serves like a co-lead for the X-Men.

Wolverine: One of the more complex but most beloved characters in the franchise still has a major presence in the series and continues to show that behind all of the brawn is a vulnerable man traumatized by his experiences during his abnormally long lifespan.

Storm: The strong and wise manipulator of the elements, continues to shine with her regal-like presence and commanding leadership. Not to mention, the 80s’ mohawk hairstyle that everyone loved so much is back with a vengeance, which is a big thumbs up in my eyes. Her storyline in the series is one that I became invested in and opens the door to some intriguing storylines that have been explored in the comics.

Gambit: Gambit is still his arrogant and suave self. Of course, he’s still trying to woo Rogue (I mean, who wouldn’t) and adds his comedic flair to the series, not taking things too seriously. It is interesting to see how serious his feelings are for Rogue and how this will play into the story arc.

Rogue: Continues to struggle with her powers and her desire for physical touch tied to emotional connection. She still packs a huge punch and has her charm that many fell in love with. I look forward to seeing where her path leads, hopefully not back to Apocalypse.

Jubilee: Although one of the youngest members, she is no longer the newest member of the team. She tries to welcome Roberto into the X-Men family, just as she was, by sharing their commonalities. She has more confidence in herself and her powers, but has more room for growth.

Bishop: Let me just say that this version of Bishop looks like Method Man cosplaying as Bishop. If this is any indicator or campaign for Meth to play the character, then Marvel, you are doing a good job. Bishop is not one of the original members of the X-Men, but he is an excellent addition to this team and plays a massive role in the future of mutant kind. Let’s not forget his involvement in the previous episodes, especially during the Days of Future Past (which was inspired by the comic of the same name) and the live-action movie X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Morph: Rejoining the team, Morgue seems to show some growth from his past trauma of being a lab rat manipulated by Mr. Sinister. His budding friendship with Wolverine continues, and his power to shapeshift into anyone is impressive to say the least.

Magneto: After the death of Professor X, no one, including Magneto, has been the same. In fact, just like in the comic books, Professor X’s death challenges Magneto to change his perspective on humankind. Given that he has been endowed the estate of Professor X (including the leadership of the X-Men), Magneto has a lot of proving and learning to do in his new role. Oh, by the way, I’m not a huge fan of the long gloves and sleeveless costume combo he’s got going on. I guess I am a classic costume kind of guy.

Wolverine (voiced by Cal Dodd) and Gambit (voiced by A.J. LoCascio) in Marvel Animation’s X-MEN ’97. Photo courtesy of Marvel Animation. © 2024 MARVEL.

#4. Power Upgrades and Weapons

The power upgrades are phenomenal! It shows that the characters have been in the danger room, improving their skill sets. When I tell you that Storm showcases some of her omega-level power, she really shows it, taking out a fleet of sentinels with ease. The same goes for Bishop; he has a few moments where he unleashes his power, and I was like, “Oh hell yeah!”

There are some team attacks that I was not expecting, but they show that the team members have added some new moves to their set and their arsenal of attacks is limitless, including the one featured in the trailer where Gambit charges up Wolverine’s claws. Morph was the most impressive out of all the characters to me because, since he is a shapeshifter, the writers took the liberty of using his abilities for cameo opportunities. This is something I really got excited about as a comic book fan because now you can see the characters within the Marvel universe in action and not just randomly pop up on screen. I won’t ruin what characters he turns into, but I can say viewers will enjoy it.

The humans are given better weapons in the series as well. The Friends of Humanity and The Executioner are fitted with weapons that replicate the lasers and power of the sentinels. So, humans are no longer just as easily disposable when they have these weapons. There are a few times when mutants like Storm are temporarily taken out. I mean, the Executioner comes on the scene like The Punisher for mutants.

#5. Storyline

The most significant draw of X-Men ’97 is its timeless themes and messages. At its core, the X-Men franchise has always been about more than just superpowers and epic battles—it’s about acceptance, diversity, and the struggle for equality. In today’s world, where social issues continue to divide us, the message of unity and understanding still conveyed by the X-Men are more relevant than ever.

Outside of the mutants dealing with hate from humans and anti-mutant groups like Friends of Humanity, the series explores some of their own personal stories and internal struggles, including relationships and mental health, which are relatable stories.

The writing team has also taken the time to explore storylines loved by comic book readers and fans alike, especially during episode 3! This is my favorite of the three episodes available because it pays homage to the comics and will leave the door open for a bunch of possible good storylines the writers can explore.

One of my suggestions for the series is that episodes could be about 5-10 minutes longer. I know the series follows the layout of an animated show, but there is so much more story and character development that the writers could explore, especially with Magneto’s story. But then again, I’ve only seen the first three episodes.

(L-R): Beast (voiced by George Buza), Rogue (voiced by Lenore Zann), Morph (voiced by JP Karliak), Cyclops (voiced by Ray Chase), Wolverine (voiced by Cal Dodd), Gambit (voiced by A.J. LoCascio), and Bishop (voiced by Isaac Robinson-Smith) in Marvel Animation’s X-MEN ’97. Photo courtesy of Marvel Animation. © 2024 MARVEL.

Conclusion

In conclusion, X-Men ’97 is poised to capture the hearts of audiences once again with its compelling storytelling and timeless themes. By staying true to the spirit of the original series while offering fresh new adventures, the revival honors the legacy of the X-Men franchise while paving the way for an exciting new chapter. For fans of all ages, X-Men ’97 is a must-watch event that promises to deliver thrills, excitement, and inspiration. I give the series a 9/10. Catch X-Men’97 on Disney+.

Dapper Dr Feel

Felipe Patterson aka Dapper Dr. Feel, #BlackLoveConvo & Entertainment | @fdapperdr Dapper Dr. Feel is a Entertainment journalist and member of the Critics Choice Association and African American Film Association.

One thought on “The Top Five Reasons to Love X-Men ’97: Embrace the Nostalgia and New Adventures!

  • Michelle Wardlaw

    My co-worker has been raving about this show. Said it was *chef’s kiss*

    Reply

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