The 1990s X-Men are coming back! In this era of reboots and continuations of shows from the past, Disney+ aims to bring back the X-Men cartoon all us ’90s kids grew up on! This news makes me ecstatic!
The new show X-Men ’97 (2023) is said to continue from right where X-Men: The Animated Series (1992-1997) left off. At that time, Professor Xavier left Earth with Shi’ar empress Lilandra to treat his lethal illness; meanwhile, the X-Men were to continue their mission — protect and defend all while finding ways to bridge the gap between homo-sapiens and mutants.
In today’s world of people trying to fight forms of racism and xenophobia, challenging powers which threaten whole groups of people in order to get ahead and achieve a fanbase, the X-Men are just as relevant now as they were in years past. The X-Men story has long mirrored the uphill battle for equal rights and justice no matter who you are. I’ll be very interested to see how today’s writers draw from the on-going struggle and adapt it into this property.
But just as important to me is the simple fact that it’s the ’90s X-Men cartoon back in action! I loved the old show as a kid and have only come to appreciate it more over the years for its artwork, its original and adapted stories, and the action. Also, let us not forget the epic soundtrack; especially the theme song with its rad guitar!
“This is the first X-Men title produced by Marvel Studios,” said Brad Winderbaum, Head of Streaming, Television, and Animation at Marvel Studios in an interview for Marvel.com. “What an amazing first step to reintroduce audiences to the X-Men with a look at one of the most pinnacle eras of the X-Men comics, which was the ’90s. That iconic style that has its roots in Chris Claremont, and is celebrated in Jim Lee, and then again in ‘The Animated Series.'”
“As an animated show, the original X-Men was the forerunner to some amazing action series,” said Dana Vasquez-Eberhardt, VP of Animation at Marvel Studios in the same interview. “Everyone that is making X-Men ’97, top-down, is a fan. On this project, instinctually, we knew exactly what this is. To bring this series forward and pick up that baton, and not just keep running at the same pace, but to really elevate. That’s the responsibility.”
Among the news of X-Men ’97 is the return of a bunch of the voice actors from the original ’90s cartoon: Cal Dodd, Lenore Zann, George Buza, Alison Sealy-Smith, Chris Potter, Catherine Disher, Adrian Hough, and Christopher Britton. This has me all over the place in hope that they perform the same character voices they used to do. Reports say that some are, but others will be playing new roles… which I guess I can live with.
New cast members include Jennifer Hale, Anniwaa Buachie, Ray Chase, Matthew Waterson, JP Karliak, Holly Chou, Jeff Bennett, and AJ LoCascio.
Still, I am excited to see what comes next. I want to see if the near loss of former bestie Charles Xavier will impact Magneto toward the X-Men’s non-violent approach to peace between humans and mutants. While willing to sacrifice anyone and everyone to achieve his goal of peace for mutantkind alone — as opposed to dominion or extermination by humankind — one can understand Magneto’s passion and his fear. I want to see what direction he goes under today’s writers.
Disney made the announcement of X-Men ’97 on November 12th, 2021 as part of “Disney+ Day”. The means of announcement was hilarious: a parody of the oft-used meme of ’90s Wolverine staring longingly into a picture frame (originally containing a photo of Jean Grey) at whatever each meme artist felt would be funny. It’s been used to express enjoyment for many a thing: Grogu, Wolverine gut-punching Cyclops, and even a bare-chested Tom Hiddleston/Loki!
X-Men ’97 premieres in 2023, so there’s sadly a long wait before we fans can resume rocking out to that awesome X-Men theme and watch Wolverine be his snarky, bad-boy self while running about in yellow spandex. But by golly, we’ll watch the heck out of him doing exactly that! It’s bound to have differences compared to the original ’90s animated series from which it derives, but I’m eager to see what can be done here. Bring it on, I say!