X-Men 97 – To Me, My X-Men and Mutant Liberation Begins

Beware of spoilers for the show in the article. Please do not continue reading if you are interested in watching the show and you are not okay with being spoiled since this article will discuss events from the first two episodes that premiered on the 20th of March 2024 on Disney +.

To Me, My X-Men :

The show returns with a great opening episode that manages to begin with the redemption of Cyclops as a character. Having been pushed to the side as the leader of the X-Men in the Fox movies , the show makes it clear that Scott Summers is the leader of the X-Men. The show feels like a proper continuation of the 90’s series with the return of the iconic theme song and the show’s classic designs. With some time having passed since the season 5 finale the story has moved forward for the characters with Scott and Jean now expecting a child , Storm’s new mohawk hairstyle (which she donned in alternate timeline episodes in the 90’s show ) , Morph and Bishop’s official additions to the Team through the opening credits , a potential new team member through Sunspot and the probably the biggest change going forward with Magneto inheriting the X-Mansion and the X-men leadership from Charles ( after having spent most of the original series as an antagonistic anti-hero force) .

The show’s animation is also leagues above anything we got in the 90’s animated series allowing the creatives to deliver some epic visual moments such as Storm turning sand into glass and creating a glass tornado or Cyclops using his power to make an epic superhero landing. Storywise the X-Men are still dealing with bigotry and discrimination something which the real world has yet to unfortunately move on from. Whilst the first episode is exposition-heavy, the episode succeeds at convincing audiences that the show is back even with a different and improved animation style. It is for lack of a better word nostalgia done right

Mutant Liberation Begins :

Episode 2 focuses primarily on the fallout of the reveal at the end of episode 1 that Magneto has been given the X-Mansion through Professor Charles Xavier’s Last Will and Testament effectively making him the de facto leader of the X-Men. This causes some conflict in the team as Cyclops doesn’t trust him ( but comes around since he accepts Charles made that choice and he trusts Charles’s judgment ) and Rogue is revealed to have a secret past connection to Magneto (she is able to touch him without draining his power) which no-one on the team knows about. Rogue had a whole life prior to becoming an X-Men on the original show which was hinted at e.g… from her days with Mystique and the brotherhood. I loved this second episode much more than the first one and I felt it was better because it didn’t have exposition to set up so it could just zone in on the story it wanted to tell about Magneto , episode 1 is still great though.

The X-Men show’s soap opera drama which is a staple of the comics has also returned with major dramatic turns like Storm losing her power ( I’m sure she will get them back and we will see that journey for her ), a clone of Jean showing up at the X-Mansion doorstep ( I think that’s probably the real Jean if you are aware of the comics ) and a possible Rogue, Magneto and Gambit love triangle on the horizon.

In case it isn’t clear to some viewers on why Charles is absent from this revival series. In the final episode of the original 90’s series Professor Xavier has a fatal gunshot wound and has to leave Earth to receive long-term medical attention. He is currently in space with his girlfriend Princess Lilandra, so I’m sure we will see him return to the revival show at some point. The Professor was shot publicly so that’s probably why everyone on Earth believes he died.

My “other” thoughts :

From the first two episodes the show can feel quite fast paced but it works, the show overall feels very true to it’s Saturday morning cartoon origins. With both episode one and two being nearly 30 minutes long including the end credits , there is a lot of story in these first two episodes.

I love that the iconic theme song is back , I do wish the instruments sounded louder though they sound a little muted to me , compared to the sound of the original but that’s a minor issue for me because the theme is good either way.

The action scenes are incredible , having been animated by Studio Mir which animated The Legend of Korra I’d expect nothing less. From Storm cooking up a glass tornado , Rogue taking out a sentinel with another’s head, Beast operating a sentinel from it’s chest , Bishops new vein charging power effects , Gambit charging up Wolverine’s adamantium claws , Morph being a cameo machine, Magneto taking an entire council to the Earth’s upper atmosphere and so much more.

I want to trust Magneto on the team but part of me wonders if he let Storm get shot to take her out of the board, she is after all an Omega level Mutant. No offense to Jean but in the original animated series, outside of the Phoenix episodes Jean was a perpetual fainter after using her powers in battles ( I’m sure Magneto remembers). Magneto is clearly aware of Storm’s power and what it means for her. I’m wondering if a version of T’challa might appear down the line since it’s very likely Storm might be going back to Africa.

Shout outs (Writers and Directors ):

Episode 1 “To Me , My X-Men” is written by the revival show’s creator and executive producer Beau DeMayo and directed by Jake Castorena. Episode 2 “Mutant Liberation Begins” is written by Beau DeMayo and directed by Chase Conley.Both episodes are expertly constructed.

Shout outs (Voice Cast ):

Some of the voice cast from the 90’s returned for the revival show namely Cal Dodd as Wolverine , Alison Sealy-Smith as Storm, Lenore Zann as Rogue , Adrian Hough as Nightcrawler and George Buza as Beast. Jennifer Grey and Ray Chase voice Jean Grey (Jennifer replaces Jean’s original voice actor Catherine Disher) and Scott Summers (Ray replaces Scott’s original voice actor Norm Spencer who passed away in 2020).

The other new cast members include A.J LoCascio who voices Remy LeBeau/Gambit (A.J replaces Gambit’s original voice actor Chris Potter who will now voice Nathan Summers AKA Cable) , J.P Karliak who voices Morph (Karliak replaces Morph’s original voice actor Ron Rubin who will voice President Robert Edward Kelly) , Isaac Robinson-Smith who voices Bishop (Robinson-Smith replaces Bishop’s original voice actor Phillip Akin), Holly Chou who voices Jubilee ( Chou replaces Jubilee’s original voice actor Alyson Court who will voice a variant of Jubilee named Abcissa) , Matthew Waterson who voices Magneto (Waterson replaces Magneto’s original voice actor David Hemblen who passed away in 2020) , and Gui Agustino who voices Roberto da Costa/ Sunspot. The voice cast all give great performances in their roles so far.

Verdict :

The show is an electrifying return to form for Marvel studios and in particular Marvel Animation. The X-Men have always been my favorite superhero team and this show provides hope that eventually when the X-Men make their proper MCU debut they will be handled with great care and respect for their legacy. An age of mutants is truly afoot and it is a glorious thing to behold, I can’t wait for episode 3.

Rating :

Story: 10/10

Visuals: 10/10

Sound: 10/10

Performances: 10/10

Overall: 10/10

Join me weekly for more reviews of the first season of X-Men 97.

“What did you think of the show’s first two episodes this week ?”

“What are your hopes for the rest of the season ?”

Let us know in the comments below.

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