TV Reviews

X-MEN 97 Season 1 Review: Blending Heart & Humour Into Stories That Resonate On A Different Level 

Listen to me, as geeks and nerds, we are definitely spoiled for choice. It’s an era of comic book movies and shows, and genre fiction like never before. But even in this era, we are at times still prone to complaining; be it about the shine fading from the MCU or inaccuracies in genre adaptations. But then something like X-Men 97 comes along and reminds us of what comic book adaptations originally looked like. And how much fun they were. Where has all the fun gone? Find out in my X-Men 97 season 1 review

Please note that the following X-Men 97 season 1 review will contain some spoilers. All episodes are now streaming on Disney+. 

X-Men: The Animated Series Pre-Dates Comic Book Adaptations Of The Last 30 Years

X-Men 97 season 1 review cast.

Image via Disney+.

X-Men 97 is a special show. But its’ predecessor was highly influential at a time, which looked very different from the one we live in today. The X-Men animated series that X-Men 97 is a sequel of, existed at a time when comic book adaptations weren’t a thing. There was no Marvel Studios, no Fox’s X-Men live-action movies, or anything even resembling today’s landscape. So to see the comic books that I used to read, a fringe hobby at the time, come alive on my TV screen on Saturday mornings was a huge treat!

And what I didn’t know at the time, is how much more unique it was to see the characters from paper, come on screen, looking exactly like the comics; the costumes, the hair, the larger-than-life personalities. And how this would be the yardstick we will use for the next 30 days to crap on the costumes of every live-action comic book movie adaptation since.

X-Men 97 is a continuation of that epic and seminary comic book series. The story picks up exactly where the original series ends, dealing with the aftermath of Professor Xavier’s (Ross Marquand) apparent death. While the original series dealt with the struggle between humanity and mutants, as an allegory of the civil rights movement of the 60s in America, X-Men 97 ups the ante so much more. Since the original series, the symbolism between this fictional struggle has also resonated within LGBTQIA+ communities, given how much of the themes and struggles of mutants in the show, reflect and parallel the duaity of those communities as well. So it was awesome to see how the new series, leaned into all those themes even more and made the show feel truly universal to any underrepresented group. 

X-Men 97 Season 1 Review Has Some Spoilers

X-Men 97 season 1 review Blackbird.

Image via Disney+.

One of the best things about X-Men 97 season 1 is its focus on the characters. Ultimately, for all the comic book action and powers and pew pew pew, X-Men 97 is very much a character-driven soap opera. More so than the larger-than-life comic book action and incredible visuals, it’s the smaller and specific stories between these historic characters, that make up the crux of the show. All the memorable dialogues and quotable one-liners aren’t steeped in the action, but more in the emotional weight and significance behind those words that make them so incredibly badass. 

Turning Magneto (Matthew Waterson) from a villain into a hero, back into the iconic villain he originally was portrayed as, only for him to then come to a shaky truce and partially accept what Xavier has been convincing him for decades— is brilliant writing! Not to mention doing that all in a show that has an ensemble cast, multiple storylines and only a limited number of episodes.

Creating a love triangle between Rogue (Lenore Zann), Gambit (A.J. LoCascio) and Magneto, which is finally resolved by Rogue’s choosing, only to lose her love(s) and go on a berserker rampage, is as heartbreaking as it was incredibly stunning to see. One of the stronger characters gets unleashed due to an emotional break, which is not only shocking but a feeling many people can relate to. That’s probably the true strength of X-Men 97 season 1, the ability to anchor all the elevated action sequences with a core story of people that have nothing to do with the costumes, powers, or mutant shenanigans. 

The Character Dynamics Of X-Men 97 Season 1 Is Brilliant

X-Men 97 season 1 review my XMen.

Image via Disney+.

X-Men 97 is also careful to craft moments that pull directly from the comic books and give some amazing closure to long-time comic book fans. Xavier and Magneto finally, even for an instance, being on the same page, after sharing Magneto’s trauma is one of the finer moments of any TV series, much less a comic book series steeped in decades of previous lore. So to create something so new and special is a feat in and of itself. The Xavier and Magneto dynamic is so complex, that almost every live-action X-Men iteration has focused on a version of that frenemy-ship. 

But X-Men 97 season 1 also gives us a more unique dynamic; the sisterhood of Jean Grey (Jennifer Hale) and Storm (Alison Sealy-Smith). How these two founding women of the X-Men finally get to stand out and empower each other, and just be sisters to each other is incredibly heartwarming and long overdue. The sheer joy on Storm’s face when the thought to be dead Grey returns as a renewed Phoenix, is just so wholesome. Jean running into Storm’s arms after her brief hiatus from the team, exemplifies just how close they are, and I’m so glad the series gave us those moments. 

X-Men 97 Contains Some Of The Best Action Of Any X-Men Media

While the stellar writing of X-Men 97 season 1 is quite impressive, we still need to discuss the insane action and visual elements of this show. Beginning in episode 1, with the often-seen explosion of the Blackbird, the entire team comes together as they are falling through the air, but culminates in them rallying behind their contested leader, Cyclops. It’s the first of many jaw-dropping action choreography and visuals that remain top-tier comic book adaption action of any medium! 

The writers definitely, intentionally chose to have each episode feature some brilliant moments of action, with the characters using their power in ways we’ve never seen before. Although, to be fair, those moments are much easier to exist in an animated format than live-action. But I would love to see some of these moments incorporated into whatever live-action X-Men we eventually get in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Overall, X-Men 97 is just a wonderful continuation of the original 90s series. The one complaint I would have is that the show isn’t really accessible to new audiences. While you can definitely still enjoy the action, story and overall comic book things happening, the history of the characters makes the character moments resonate that much more. And hit that much harder. Some audiences may lose that if they haven’t seen the previous iteration. But the good news is that all seasons of the original series is also on Disney+, for those interested in catching up first.

X-Men 97 season 1 is streaming all episodes on Disney+. 

What did you think of X-Men 97 season 1? Let me know in the comments below. Or follow me X (formerly Twitter) at @theshahshahid for a lot more X-Men 97 discussions and features. 

X-MEN 97 Season 1 Review: Blending Heart & Humour Into Stories That Resonate On A Different Level 
  • Acting - 8.5/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 10/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 8.5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 8/10
  • Watchability - 10/10
  • Rewatchability - 10/10
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