'X-Men ‘97' review: To me, my X-citingly nostalgic X-Men X-perience


Hey wait, this isn't 1997! Who's been playing with the time machine again, eh? — Photos: Disney Hotstar

Oh my stars and garters! What mutant sorcery is this? Has Bishop activated his time band and brought us back to the 1990s, when X-Men: The Animated Series was THE best superhero show on the planet?

Of all the superhero television projects Marvel Studios announced in the past year, X-Men ‘97 was arguably the most anticipated one for most fans.

This was especially true for those of us who grew up with the original series, which ran from 1992 to 1997, and is still regarded as one of the highest benchmarks a superhero animated series can aspire to.

Who needs a Fastball Special when you've got kinetically charged claws?Who needs a Fastball Special when you've got kinetically charged claws?

The nostalgia kicks in almost from the get go, as the all-too familiar opening theme song worms its way into your ears, and the members of the team are introduced in an opening sequence that mirrors the original series, with a few exceptions.

One delightful surprise was the inclusion of Morph in the opening sequence. The shape-shifter was part of the original team back in 1992’s pilot episode, but suffered the indignity of not only being omitted from the credits, but also being killed off in that very first episode, so it’s nice to see him finally get his due here.

Well, here we are, already a third through this review and all we’ve talked about is the opening sequence. That is how much we love this show.

Looks like the latest NBA franchise team did not have enough funds for uniforms.Looks like the latest NBA franchise team did not have enough funds for uniforms.

Anyway, this is not a remake of the original, but rather, a continuation of the series, which ended after five seasons. Hence, you could say that this is actually 'Season 6'.

The story picks up in the immediate aftermath of the previous series, which ended with Professor Charles Xavier near-death after an attack by Henry Peter Gyrich, and having to leave for the Shi’ar homeworld in search of a cure.

With Professor X gone, Cyclops is now in charge of the X-Men, which now comprises a pregnant Jean Grey, Wolverine, Gambit, Rogue, Beast, Storm, Jubilee, and yes, Morph.

As a result of Professor X’s ‘death’, the human world is more sympathetic towards the mutants' cause, but there are still pockets of the population that see mutants as a threat.

Quick! There's a camera! Everyone get into your best superhero pose!Quick! There's a camera! Everyone get into your best superhero pose!

The opening two episodes, now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar, sees Roberto de Costa, aka Sunspot, being hunted by the ‘Friends of Humanity’, who are armed with Sentinel technology, which of course, give this ‘new’ X-Men team a chance to fly into action.

And what action it is. Being an animated series allows for action that is as kinetically charged as one of Gambit’s playing cards. It is fast-paced, inventive, and each and every X-Man gets to show off his or her powers every single time.

That Sentinel brawl was just the beginning though. By the end of the three episodes we got to review, the story had already charged headlong into some of the X-Men’s greatest ever stories, starring villains like Magneto and Mr Sinister no less.

What do you mean this isn't the bus to the Avengers mansion?What do you mean this isn't the bus to the Avengers mansion?

It is also remarkable how they have managed to keep the essence and nostalgia of the original series, while also making this ‘new’ series feel fresh, with animation that has a distinctly ‘1990s feel’, but does not look nor seem outdated at all.

This being the first true Marvel Studios project involving the X-Men since Disney bought over 20th Century Fox, X-Men ‘97 has a lot riding on it. And I’m happy to report that it passes the Danger Room test perfectly, which bodes well for any potential live-action X-Men project in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

X-Men ‘97 is a testament of just how good the X-Men can be when it is done right. It’s exciting, it’s cool, and nostalgic as it is, it also brings the series forward into the present. If you love Marvel superheroes, go watch it. And good luck getting that theme song out of your head. To me, my X-Men!

9 10

Summary:

X-hilarating continuation of a classic series.

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