Light spoilers

Marvel Animation Inc.’s newest series demonstrated that animated storytelling is just as compelling as, if not better than, live action. From the brilliant minds of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Marvel presented their first revival show “X-Men ‘97,” concluding its season finale which aired on May 15 on Disney+. The show gave a warm welcome to newcomers and longtime fans alike with its blend of nostalgic elements, contemporary storytelling and updated animation. Combined, these create a fresh yet familiar experience for all. 

Marvel’s “X-Men ‘97” takes place one year after the events of “X-Men: The Animated Series,”  featuring returning characters like Wolverine, Jean Grey, Storm and some other notable additions. The story begins with Professor Xavier presumed dead, leaving the X-Men to grapple with this loss and the world’s hatred for them, all while under Magneto’s reign. Set primarily at the X-Mansion in Westchester County, New York, the series continued to explore themes of prejudice, acceptance and the quest for peace between mutants and humans. With stellar animation, amazing writing and phenomenal comic book accuracy and inclusion, the show perfectly captured the 90s aesthetic. The action-packed fight scenes and heartfelt storytelling left audiences wanting more.

Diving into one of the most astounding parts of the show, the animation stood out for its vibrant colors, fluid movements and incredible attention to detail, making each scene visually captivating and enhancing the overall storytelling experience. Whether audience members were art aficionados, Marvelites or new to the show, the animation was appreciated. Marvel truly outdid themselves with the classic 90s animation in “X-Men ’97,” redesigning timeless characters while preserving the classic qualities. Additionally, they changed the character design of female superheroes to ensure they weren’t overly sexualized, representing a much-needed reformation in this modern era. Every episode also showed careful consideration of the color palette, cinematography, execution of in-between frames and a magnificently consistent style.

In one particular scene, we saw Storm summoning a powerful tempest, and the vibrant hues of the storm clouds contrasted beautifully against her white costume, highlighting the meticulous attention to color balance and lighting. The motion of her cape and hair combined with the crisp, dynamic lines of the character art, emphasized the high-quality execution of in-between frames. This scene alone exemplified the series’ dedication to maintaining nostalgic animation style while incorporating modern techniques to enhance visual storytelling.

The fight scenes in “X-Men ’97” were epic and choreographed amazingly. For instance, in the scene where Wolverine jumped on Gambit, Gambit charged Wolverine’s claws with kinetic energy in order to take down the enemy. This moment showed the abilities of both characters in a visually stunning and adrenaline-pumping sequence. It was so cool and had fans on the edge of their seats, heightening the drama and intensity of the show and making the audience genuinely worry for the characters. Without further spoiling the show, there are so many better fight scenes that are treats for the watchers.

“X-Men ’97” really captured the essence of what makes the X-Men franchise so beloved. The storyline was innovative with a consistent narrative that built up the tension and kept audiences fully engrossed. The show stayed true to its comic roots, especially in its storyline for Wolverine, where the series showed the two alternate comic possibilities it could have followed. Part of the mutual excitement for viewers lies in embracing the unpredictability of the outcome, shocking the most knowledgeable of comic fans.

One of the most exciting aspects was the sheer number of cameos, which added depth to the X-Men universe, delighting fans with their unexpected appearances. The writing deserves special mention as it was fantastic throughout. The dialogue between characters felt genuine and stayed true to their personalities, making the emotional moments hit even harder. This emotional depth of the heartfelt conversations created a roller coaster of feelings for viewers. The show displays great writing, drawing in the audience, whether they are rooting for, despising or sympathizing with villains.

Moreover, the themes explored in “X-Men ’97” are as relevant today as they were decades ago. Diversity and inclusion were central themes, showing the strength in embracing differences and standing together as a team. The show also delved into prejudice and discrimination, showcasing the struggles faced by mutants and drawing parallels to real-world issues. The theme of family in the show showed the bonds forged between the X-Men as they navigate challenges together.

Overall, “X-Men ’97” excelled at animation, fight scenes and storytelling, making it a must-watch for fans old and new. This was one of the greatest shows of animated superheroes, and perhaps the most intriguing aspect was the lingering question of whether Magneto was right. This question, like many others raised by the show, can only be fully understood and explored by watching it, prompting viewers to draw their own conclusions. 

Verdict: “X-Men ‘97” revolutionized what an action animated show could and should be. It is a must see show, leaving the audience longing for more.