Disney vs. The Echhs-Men

By Tim Marion: This one has left me so unsatisfied that I feel obligated to spoil it.  Oh yes, there will be spoilers!

The X-Men cartoon in the early 90s was incredibly beautiful, and a bit complicated in the storylines when they would time travel and change events in the past.  This Fox cartoon was so successful that it lasted for several seasons and every season I collected faithfully onto VHS tapes, the outside shell of which I decorated with graphics from TV Guide and elsewhere.  I still have all of those tapes and those (and ones of other Marvel Comics characters) are definitely ones I intend to keep.  I was delighted when they all became available on DVD.  Rewatching them was a lot of fun.

The new cartoon from Disney+, X-Men ’97, was a delight visually, seeing the Disney animation applied onto what was already a beautiful, realistic art style. However, it feels like the creators of this cartoon were totally out-of-touch with the characters.

(X)  Magneto looked completely bizarre. The artist(s) put extraneous lines all over his face, apparently in an effort to make him look older or evil or whatever, even though he wasn’t presented as being an all-evil character when the original series ended. 

(X)  Magneto’s outfit was also bizarre. When he takes over leadership of the X-Men (in the absence of Charles Xavier, who everyone says is dead, but really he’s the Royal Consort on the homeworld of the Sh’iar), he suddenly has a new outfit which looks insufferably feminine. This outfit includes a bright, red-purple tanktop with matching tight gauntlets (really, evening gloves) going all the way up his arms, baring his shoulders.  What’s he going to do?  Be a mutant mastermind or break a flashdance?? Bleah. Seldom ever seen a worse superhero or villain outfit.

(X)  Then, Magneto and Rogue’s ability to have a relationship, despite the fact that Rogue’s touch depletes one of one’s powers and even personality, is explained away as if it was magic, and as if it had never been explained before. Indeed, the writer and creator of this new series, who has since been fired (wonder why?), even claimed that was never explained, but it was in the very comics story arc which is being referenced! In the comics, Magneto was almost as much a genius at mutant science as was Charles Xavier. Magneto had an entire laboratory hidden in the Savage Land (Marvel’s version of Pellucidar) where he experimented on creatures and turned them into mutates. This story occurred during the last few issues of the original run of The X-Men and was gorgeously illustrated by the late (sob) Neal Adams (arguably the best penciller in comics at the time) and Tom Palmer (unarguably the best inker ever), and even if the writer had not been born at the time, these are important, popular, seminal stories which have been reprinted almost 10 times! Magneto was, of course, defeated by the X-Men and friends, but later makes a more innocuous home for himself there when Rogue visits him (seeking help because she’s overwhelmed by her powers). It was obvious (from the dialog and before all the smooching) that he used his lab and his smarts to scientifically modify their powers so that Rogue’s touch was not lethal to him. Are these new writers just somehow not able to understand or remember details from stories which they claim they are referencing? Maybe that writer only remembers Magneto smooching a grateful, rag-clad Rogue (dressed appropriately for the barbaric Savage Land, I guess, while Magneto, of course, kept on his usual red togs) and, like this fanboy in his 30s at the time, fantasized himself as Magneto and forgot everything else? 

(X)  Rogue is actually one of the toughest, strongest X-Men, due to her once siphoning the powers of a female Captain Marvel.  But towards to end of this 10-episode series, the technology-controlling mutant Bastion is choking her to death (before he is stopped by someone else). Why couldn’t she siphon off his powers when he was doing that? Not explained. On with the drama…

Rogue, Cyclops, Jubilee, Bishop.

(X)  Then, when all else fails, and Magneto is out of control and destroying the world, Wolverine pops his claws right thru Magneto’s chest. Does Magneto die? No. Does he even look wounded?  No. Instead, they reprise a scene from the comicbooks and have Magneto very dramatically withdraw all of the adamantium (indestructible steel coating) out of Wolverine’s skeleton.  Magneto doesn’t even have a cough from having his chest punctured in 3 places.  None of that is explained. On message boards, no one seems to notice it.  For me, it was just the last claw.  I mean, straw.

(X)  And there are tons of other things which don’t make sense.  Morph was a character created just for the cartoon in the early 90s; he was never a comicbook character.  This was so they could have a character die early in the series who would not be a fan-favorite.  But somehow, here he is back, and if that was explained in the old series, I forget.  Not only is he back, but somehow, when he changes his appearance to that of other super-powered characters, such as Quicksilver or even The Hulk, he also acquires their powers!  For how long, I don’t know; this isn’t explained.  But that seems so unrealistic even within their own fantasy milieu, which is supposed to have a scientific basis. This would actually make him one of the most powerful Marvel characters, right in the range of the Mimic (whom the writer probably never heard of) or Apocalypse. Yet all of this is trotted out very casually and without explanation.

Part of the problem here is that the live action movies, as well as this cartoon, are the brain children of young men in their 30s who were probably in their early teens when they first encountered the comics or the previous cartoons, and thus they have different sensibilities and feelings about these characters than I do. Even if they invest a lot of thought into those characters, those thoughts frequently seem wacky, illogical, and inappropriate.

In short (I know: it’s too late already), this wasn’t really a continuation of the previous cartoon, except maybe in appearance. It was more the vision of an individual fanboy who couldn’t correctly remember the stories he was claiming to reference and adapt and is too young to have read other seminal stories.  Altho the previous series was complicated, if episodes were watched again and paid attention to carefully, they made sense. This series makes no sense.  It is just confusion, chaos, and sensationalism; a proverbial “tale of sound and fury.”

Well, whatever, I’m glad I watched X-Men ’97 just because I would have felt like I was Really Missing Out if I hadn’t.  But, despite how beautiful this cartoon was, I doubt that I will feel inspired to watch any future ones, or any possible cartoons of heroes whose cameos they featured.

Then, I attempted to watch a new, touted animé on Disney. Commercial before it started. 3-5 minutes into it, a set of commercials. I stopped it and cancelled the service. “Too many commercials!” I told them. “For this amount of commercials, I should see the programming for free!”


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5 thoughts on “Disney vs. The Echhs-Men

  1. Pingback: AMAZING NEWS FROM FANDOM: June 16, 2024 - Amazing Stories

  2. Andrew (not Werdna) on June 16, 2024 at 9:51 am said:

    If I recall correctly, Morph did return in the original series – he was believed dead, but had been captured and brainwashed by Mr. Sinister instead.

    Yes, indeed. While Morph was apparently killed he was under the control of Mr Sinister in later episodes. Indeed, he turns out to be the (fake) celebrant at Jean and Scott’s wedding. He eventually does get free of Mr Sinister’s control.

    Overall, I thought X-Men 97 was very good. I loved the original cartoon but it often had rambling plots (which sometimes were broadcast out of sequence) and the art and animation were often inconsistent. X-Men 97 reproduced the better aspects of the original but more consistently.

  3. The reason for the firing of the original showrunner of “X-Men ’97” was never detailed, either by Marvel/Disney or by the showrunner. Considering the fact that he has written a portion of the second season, it was not his writing that led to the change.

    I have to disagree with you about this revival/continuation, but that would take way too long to write here. I think it was a worthy successor to the original in many ways, unlike several other “revivals” of other well loved animated shows, like “Animaniacs” and “Tiny Toon Adventures”. Both of those show that the current creators are clueless when it comes to what made the originals great, especially when many of the original creators were available and never asked to participate.

    Yes, “X-Men ’97” has things that I could nitpick about, but overall, it is very well done.

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