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X-Men ’97 Created A New Challenge For Marvel’s Future

X-Men ’97 has taken the world by storm. The Disney+ revival series has achieved an unprecedented milestone, becoming the highest-rated Marvel Studios project ever. With a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, it has surpassed previous top-rated Marvel works, including Ms. Marvel (98%) and Black Panther (96%). This level of acclaim sets a new benchmark, putting significant pressure on the upcoming live-action X-Men movie.

New Live-Action X-Men In The Works

Following the triumph of X-Men ’97, Marvel Studios is ramping up efforts for the live-action X-Men movie. Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes scribe Michael Lesslie is in negotiations to pen the screenplay, signaling Marvel’s serious intent to deliver a standout film. However, the animated series’ success has set incredibly high expectations that the live-action movie must meet.

Challenges Ahead for Marvel Studios

The anticipation for the live-action X-Men is sky-high, especially after the great reception and critical acclaim for X-Men 97. However, this excitement comes with its own challenges. The comparison to Marvel’s What If…? Doctor Strange episode versus the live-action Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness serves as a cautionary tale. Fans praised the What If…? episode for its deep character exploration of the sorcerer, while the movie was criticized for superficial cameos and weak plot development.

This concern is similar to what fans have felt for years with DC. DC’s animated movies often have typically had better stories than their live-action films.  This would drive audiences to wonder why the live-action films couldn’t match the same level of quality. This contrast highlights the risk Marvel faces if the live-action X-Men doesn’t measure up to the animated series. 

Fan Concerns and Expectations

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Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man in Marvel Studios ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

Marvel fans are particularly concerned about the potential quality of the upcoming X-Men film. The past Variety report on Marvel’s issues highlighted several issues that have dampened fan enthusiasm. Reshoots for multiple projects, the Jonathan Majors trial, and the miscalculated reception of films like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania has shaken public confidence in Marvel Studios. Fans are now wary, questioning whether the studio can return to its former glory.

X-men 97 Wolverine and Jean Cyclops Episode 5 Marvel Studios MCu (2)

With X-Men ’97 delivering memorable lines and spectacular action sequences, there’s a real fear that the live-action film may fall short. Fans expect the same level of drama and quality, and any deviation could result in disappointment. The animated series did a masterful job of highlighting characters like Jean Grey and her relationship with Cyclops. It also gave fans the much-desired moment of Wolverine, not only dismembering villains but actually stabbing someone and not holding back on showing blood on his claws. Marvel Studios must navigate these high expectations carefully to avoid the pitfalls that have plagued their recent projects.

Marvel’s Past Missteps

Kevin Feige acknowledged the “rough time” of the MCU in recent years. Post-Avengers: Endgame, Marvel has struggled to maintain the same level of excitement and quality. Projects like Thor: Love and Thunder failed to meet expectations, leaving fans disappointed. With the X-Men historically being one of Marvel’s most profitable franchises, there is immense pressure to deliver a hit that can restore public faith in the studio.

The High Stakes of X-Men ’97’s Success

(L-R): Bishop (voiced by Isaac Robinson-Smith), Cyclops (voiced by Ray Chase), Jean Grey (voiced by Jennifer Hale), Rogue (voiced by Lenore Zann), Morph (voiced by JP Karliak), Magneto (voiced by Matthew Waterson), Wolverine (voiced by Cal Dodd), Jubilee (voiced by Holly Chou), Beast (voiced by George Buza), and Gambit (voiced by AJ LoCascio) in Marvel Animation's X-MEN '97. Photo courtesy of Marvel Animation. © 2024 MARVEL.

(L-R): Bishop (voiced by Isaac Robinson-Smith), Cyclops (voiced by Ray Chase), Jean Grey (voiced by Jennifer Hale), Rogue (voiced by Lenore Zann), Morph (voiced by JP Karliak), Magneto (voiced by Matthew Waterson), Wolverine (voiced by Cal Dodd), Jubilee (voiced by Holly Chou), Beast (voiced by George Buza), and Gambit (voiced by AJ LoCascio) in Marvel Animation’s X-MEN ’97. Photo courtesy of Marvel Animation. © 2024 MARVEL.

The success of X-Men ’97 has heightened expectations for all Marvel projects. It’s reminiscent of the period when Marvel delivered hit after hit with Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far from Home. Audiences developed high expectations, and many subsequent projects fell short. If the live-action X-Men film doesn’t match the quality of X-Men ’97, it could lead to significant disappointment.

Marvel must ensure that the new X-Men movie delivers on all fronts—casting, storytelling, and action—to satisfy fans. The biggest task will be to fully confront the central themes of discrimination which the X-Men franchise is primarily based upon. The comparison to the animated series will be inevitable, and Marvel must rise to the challenge to avoid repeating past mistakes.

The Bright Side

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However, there’s hope for Marvel’s future. According to a Hollywood Reporter article, Marvel is already in the process of making changes to their creative approach. Bob Iger and Marvel executives have said they will slow down production, focusing on only three movies and two TV series a year. This could give them more time to learn from past mistakes and ensure better quality in their projects. Marvel’s self-awareness of their mistakes is also a good sign. In the Deadpool and Wolverine trailer, Deadpool joked about becoming the “Marvel Jesus” to save the MCU, showing that Marvel is aware of its problems and ready to fix them.

X-Men ’97 has set a new standard for Marvel Studios. The show’s brilliant writing, deep exploration of characters, and visual appeal has created both excitement and pressure for the upcoming live-action X-Men movie. With recent missteps still fresh in fans’ minds, Marvel must deliver a film that lives up to the high bar set by the animated series. Only time will tell if they can meet these expectations and restore confidence in the MCU.


X-MEN '97 Marvel Animation Marvel Studios

X-MEN ’97, exclusively on Disney+. © 2024 MARVEL.

Director: Jake Casterano
Writer(s): Beau DeMayo
Stars: Jennifer Hale, Ray Chase, Alison Sealy-Smith, Cal Dodd, George Buza, A.J. LoCascio, Holly Chou
X-Men ’97 comes to Disney+ on March 20, 2024. Be sure to follow E-Man’s Movie Reviews on Facebook, Subscribe on YouTube, or follow me on Twitter/IG @EmansReviews for even more movie news and reviews!

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