‘X-Men ‘97’ series review: Much to enjoy in this old-school adventure from Marvel

Fabulous retro animation, spectacular action, high concepts and profound emotions come together in an irresistible smorgasbord as ‘X-Men ‘97’ works as the perfect springboard/continuation into this struggle for power and acceptance between mutants and humans

Updated - May 16, 2024 04:55 pm IST

Published - May 16, 2024 04:43 pm IST

A still from ‘X-Men ‘97’

A still from ‘X-Men ‘97’

The finale of X-Men ‘97 elegantly wraps up the story arcs we invested in over 10 episodes, while teasing out sufficient details for season 2, which has already been greenlit (yay). This reboot of the X-Men animated series, which aired from 1992 to 1997, is produced by the animation wing of Marvel Studios. The show, with its half-hour episodes, brings to mind the thrill and joy of watching animation on Sunday afternoons pythonated on the couch.

X-Men ‘97
Episodes: 10
Run time: 30 to 37 minutes
Creator: Beau DeMayo
Voice cast: Ray Chase, Jennifer Hale, Alison Sealy-Smith, Cal Dodd, J. P. Karliak, Lenore Zann, George Buza, A. J. LoCascio, Holly Chou, Isaac Robinson-Smith, Matthew Waterson, Ross Marquand, Adrian Hough
Storyline: The X-Men face a new set of challenges within and without

That is not to say that this Beau DeMayo creation, runs solely on warm fuzzy retro vibes, however much the animation screams it in rowdy delight. The stories are super engaging, the action sears the eye as does the palette, villains plumb the depths of depravity and the love stories are heart breaking. There is also wry humour, Shakespeare, and delightful cameos.

X-Men ‘97 picks up a year after the events of X-Men: The Animated Series. The assassination attempt on Professor Charles Xavier (Ross Marquand) has caused him to leave earth to be healed by the Shi’ar, an advanced and rather supercilious species.

Leading the X-Men is one more thing on Cyclops’ (Ray Chase) already full plate as he and Jean Grey (Jennifer Hale) prepare to welcome a child into their lives. Cyclops and the X-Men are not sure how to feel about Xavier giving control of the X-Men to his frenemy, Magneto (Matthew Waterson).

A still from ‘X-Men ‘97’

A still from ‘X-Men ‘97’

Storm (Alison Sealy-Smith) is troubled as she cannot make up her mind if losing her powers is a good or bad thing. Wolverine (Cal Dodd) continues to be hotheaded and in love with Jean, while Beast (George Buza) lords it at the laboratory while quoting Hamlet.

Rogue (Lenore Zann) is torn between loyalties to Magneto who she is revealed to have had an affair with and Gambit (A. J. LoCascio), who she is in a relationship with now. Jubilee, (Holly Chou), the youngest of the X-Men, is the only one who can get through to the recently rescued Roberto (Gui Agustini). Morph (J. P. Karliak) is changeful as ever and Nightcrawler (Adrian Hough) has his fun with teleporting.

The wicked, including Dr. Bolivar Trask (Gavin Hammon), Master Mold supercomputer (Eric Bauza) and Mister Sinister (Christopher Britton) are thriving in the centre of their special brand of mayhem. Amidst the world-destroying high-jinks of the wicked, are the quiet times where questions of identity, love, fear, and self worth are discussed. Forge’s (Gil Birmingham) healing of Storm, Nathan’s (Chris Potter) confusion about his parents and sorrow at being abandoned, and Xavier’s difficult choice between desire and duty are touching. Even Bastion (Theo James) lashing out at all and sundry is born out his feeling of being cast out.

The destruction of Genosha and the Motendo video game to celebrate Jubilee’s 18th birthday are just two examples of the excellent visual scale of X-Men ‘97. A fair number of the voice cast reprise their roles from the earlier animated series while there are some new entrants. Best of all, you could enter the world of X-Men ‘97, completely clueless about the mythology and back-story and thoroughly enjoy the show. Bonus points, however, are always to be had for those in the know. X-Men ‘97 works as the perfect springboard/continuation into this marvellous struggle for power and acceptance between mutants and humans.

X-Men ‘97 is currently streaming on Disney+Hotstar

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