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TV Review: X-Men '97 (2024) Disney+ *Spoiler Free*

X-Men'97 poster

After hearing just about everybody I know, who's into comic book TV and film, say how great the new animated Disney+ series X-Men 97 is, I decided to check it out. Most people said you didn't need to watch the actual 90's animated series that this continues from in order to enjoy it or know what was going on.

More than one fan of this new series offered the hyperbole that this is one of Marvel's best, up there with the likes of  Wandavision and Loki, and that it should be more popular and getting more attention than it has.

Typically animated series don't usually do as well as live action shows, so it already has that hurdle - and it is a continuation of a show aimed directly at younger audiences to begin with. However those, in my opinion, are not the biggest problem.

As mentioned, most people said you didn't need to watch the original series to follow this, so I didn't. I never saw it growing up in the 90's. I wasn't really an X-Men fan but I spent most of the 90's outside on a skateboard - and completely missed Batman the Animated Series too (I've always been a big fan of that character in live action more than animation).

Having now seen the entire run of X-Men 97 (season 1), I can safely say it isn't even close to one of Marvel's best series and... you do have to watch the original series to not only have any clue about what's going on but also to get to know the characters in the context of this show. This isn't the X-Men characters you know if you've never read an X-Men comic or only watched the feature films.

The series begins with Charles Xavier missing - presumed dead - or confirmed as dead since it appears his last Will has been executed, leaving the school in Magneto's name. Already, to me, this seems ridiculous, and not something movie Xavier would even humorously entertain.

From there Magneto tries to gain the trust of the X-Men team, showing that he has their interests at heart. They reluctantly give him the benefit of the doubt.

After that I couldn't tell you what happened for the rest of the series because many of the protagonists I've never seen before, and those that I did know look very different to what I'm familiar with, starting with Magneto.

The bigger problem, after a seriously confusing story that often seemed to have Rogue going off fighting someone somewhere for 'reasons' that I missed, was that I'm not actually familiar with the characters I do know within the context of this show.

For example, Wolverine is in this show but not only isn't he a main character, he barely has any story arc. He seemed to just hang around in the background, offering a few choice words here and there, and then fighting as part of a team attack when needed. Apparently true X-Men fans like that he's less up front and more blended into being a team player?

The main story seemed to revolve around Cyclops, Jean Gray, Rogue, and Magneto. At least I feel they all had the most screen time... Rogue annoyingly so because she definitely went 'Rogue' a few times... putting us through tiresome fight scenes for reasons that weren't always clear to me.

I feel like I needed to watch the original series to get the much need backstory on all these characters to understand how they got to this point. While the new series itself does try to fill you in, you don't actually get that journey so I ended up never caring about any of them.

I listened to one fan on a podcast say the series was so good because in every episode you got three big things every time, whether that be a big event, Easter egg, or something else? I didn't get any of that. If something important was happening on screen it didn't translate for me as something amazing. Sure I got the obvious stuff but whatever that fan was talking about didn't match up with what I saw.

People who love this show, and say it's the best Marvel series they've ever seen, I believe are true fans of the original show, and are using that fandom to fill in the gaps of whatever I'm missing to not understand what I'm looking at.

Everything else about the show is great. The animation, the voice cast, the music, and whatever else it takes to make animation (just quietly it doesn't look as good as the What If series animation since it's partly throwing back to the style of the original series).

I just couldn't follow the story, even with my knowledge of the characters from the movies, and having only read a small handful of X-Men comics back in the day because I didn't really read comics. My superhero fandom comes from watching TV shows, like the really bad (but great) motion comic style animated shows that Marvel made for Hulk, Ironman, Thor, and Captain America.

If I hadn't found this show to be so tedious I might be inspired to watch the original series and then give this a rewatch. However I actually did start watching the original series well before this came out and couldn't get through more than a couple of episodes. Maybe it gets better but I wasn't prepared to go through however many episodes there were.... seemed like a lot.

Honestly, I don't think animated X-Men, based more on the comic versions than the movie characters, is for me. This series is for fans of the original. In my opinion that's why it's not getting more attention. It's not my X-Men. even if my X-Men aren't as close to their comic book counterparts as they may be in X-Men 97.

 

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