Now Streaming: X-MEN '97, Oh, For the Good Ol' Days

The new animated series is a nostalgic sequel that celebrates diversity while trying to look ahead. Now streaming on Disney Plus.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, US (@peteramartin)
Now Streaming: X-MEN '97, Oh, For the Good Ol' Days

Nostalgia is a dish best served cold.

X-Men '97
The first two episodes are now streaming on Disney Plus. New episodes debut every Wednesday. I've seen the first three episodes.

Where were you in the 90s? Were you even born yet?

X-Men: The Animated Series is now streaming on Disney Plus; I never watched it in the 90s, so I sampled the first episode, which was enough for me to see that it was designed and produced in a different era. The lower visual quality, akin to videocassette, is a further reminder. Adapting various storylines from the Marvel Comics' book, it evidently attracted a good-sized audience; it ran for 76 episodes on U.S. television from 1992-97.

Created by Beau DeMayo, X-Men '97 pays homage to the earlier series by aping the blockier style of animation, only now in 4K. Serving as a sequel, the new show picks up after the death of X-Men leader, Professor Charlies Xavier. The cast is introduced, featuring new leader Cyclops (Ray Chase); his wife, the telepathic Jean Gray (Jennifer Hale); Storm (Alison Sealy-Smith, reprising her role from the original series), controlling the weather to battle enemies; and Wolverine (Cal Dodd), the little angry fellow with sharp knives instead of fingernails.

Additional mutants include shape changing Morph (J. P. Karliak); Rogue (Lenore Zann, another original voice); Beast (George Buza, another actor reprising his role); Gambit (A. J. LoCascio); and young Jubilee (Holly Chau). They each have super-powers of one type or another.

By the end of the first episode, Magneto (Matthew Waterson), formerly the arch-enemy of Charles Xavier but always a longtime friend, returns to cause ripples of disruption through the X-Men.

Disney provided three episodes ahead of the show's two-episode debut last week, which I watched with the intention to review. I've struggled with writing about it, though, because it's clearly not meant for someone like me. Similar to other reboots and sequels on Disney Plus, whether under the Disney, Pixar, or Marvel banner, X-Men '97 caters to its intended audience of kids who grew up on the series in the 90s, watched the movies in the 00's and 10's, and are eager for something more in that universe.

If that's you, then the show may be right up your alley. I've seen spirited exchanges on social media, with some praising it and some flogging it. More than its relative quality, or lack thereof, it's a matter of how much you wish to indulge in your own personal nostalgia.

Since I don't share your timeline -- or the show's, since I wasn't introduced to the X-Men universe until the live-action X-Men (2000) -- what struck me the most about the new show is the quality of the writing. Beau DeMayo wrote the first two episodes; his experience writing The Witcher and, especially, a couple episodes of Strange New Worlds shows his comfort with easing smart social and cultural observations into the mouths of his characters.

That raises the show a cut above the expected. The third episode delves into areas I was happy to see the show explore, perhaps tapping into the deep well of stories that bubble forth from the X-Men universe. I'm not a comic book archeologist, so if you are, that may be another reason to check out the series.

X-Men '97

  • Beau DeMayo
  • Stan Lee
  • Jack Kirby
  • Ray Chase
  • Jennifer Hale
  • Alison Sealy-Smith
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Disney PlusMarvel AnimationX-MenBeau DeMayoStan LeeJack KirbyRay ChaseJennifer HaleAlison Sealy-SmithAnimationActionAdventure

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