ⓘ X-Men (TV series)
X-Men: The Animated Series, is an American animated television series which debuted on October 31, 1992, in the United States on the Fox Kids Network. X-Men was Marvel Comics second attempt at an animated X-Men TV series after the pilot, X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men, was not picked up.
In 1991, Margaret Loesch became head of Fox Childrens Network. Having championed the Pryde of the X-Men pilot in 1989, she was quick to set up an order for 13 episodes of X-Men. Saban Entertainment was contracted to produce the show and hired a small studio Graz Entertainment to produce the episodes as it did not have sufficient staff at the time to handle production in house. Graz employed the creative staff, wrote and designed each episode, and drew the storyboards. The voice work was done using Canadian studios and South Korean studio AKOM was hired to animate the episodes. X-Men was originally to premiere over the Labor Day weekend in September; due to production delays, it was pushed to the end of October. When the animation team AKOM turned in the first episode, it contained hundreds of animation errors, which AKOM refused to fix. Because of time constraints, the episode was aired in an unfinished form. The second episode was turned in just before deadline, with 50 scenes missing and only a single day reserved for editing. The "Night of the Sentinels" two-part episode originally aired as a "sneak preview" on October 31.
Because of the production delays and animation errors in these two episodes, Fox threatened to sever AKOMs contracts. When Fox re-aired the pilot in early 1993, the errors were corrected. The series earned top ratings throughout its first season, and was renewed for a second season of 13 episodes. Throughout the series run, producers had to deal with quality control issues including attempts to cut costs, requests to change the tone of the series to something more child-friendly as well to integrate toys being sold into the show.
The show was originally planned to run for 65 episodes. Given its success and Marvels bankruptcy, Saban funded the additional episodes, a seasons worth and more.
The show features X-Men similar in look and line-up to the early 1990s X-Men drawn by Jim Lee specifically, the Blue Team established in the early issues of X-Men vol. 2), composed of Cyclops, Wolverine, Rogue, Storm, Beast, Gambit, Jubilee, Jean Grey, Professor X, as well as an original character, Morph an adaptation of previous X-Men member Changeling.
The series deals with social issues, including divorce "Proteus", Christianity "Nightcrawler" and "Bloodlines", the Holocaust and AIDS hysteria "Time Fugitives", and feelings of loneliness "No Mutant Is an Island". Television was satirized in the episodes "Mojovision" and "Longshot".
X-Men crossed over with the animated series Spider-Man, when Spider-Man seeks out the X-Mens help to stave off his progressing mutation. In the abbreviated form of the Secret Wars storyline, the Beyonder and Madame Web selected Spider-Man to lead a team of heroes including Storm against a group of villains. An earlier draft of "Secret Wars" involved all of the X-Men, but transporting the voice cast from Canada to Los Angeles, where production for the Spider-Man animated series was based, had been too costly in previous crossovers, so the episode was re-written to include only Storm, whose actress, Iona Morris, lived in Los Angeles. Hulk and She-Hulk were excluded from the episodes because the Incredible Hulk animated series featuring the characters was airing on rival network UPN.
The first season of the show brought the X-Men into conflict with human conspirators building mutant-exterminating Sentinel robots, Magneto and his attempts to instigate a human-mutant war, and the powerful mutant Apocalypses plans to eradicate the weak, both human and mutant alike. Other storylines including X-Men member Morphs death at the hands of Sentinels, Beasts incarceration, and an assassination attempt on US senator Kelly by Apocalypses minions to turn human sentiment against the mutants.
The second season sees Cyclops and Jean get married and become the targets of Mister Sinister, who hopes to use the genetically perfect combination of their DNA to create an army of obedient mutants. Morph returns, having been rescued by Sinister and brainwashed into forcing the X-Men apart. The season also features the growing rift between humans and mutants, spearheaded by the Friends of Humanity, an anti-mutant group who lead the persecution of all mutants. Apocalypse also returns, developing a deadly plague to be blamed on mutants, fueling mutant hatred. A parallel narrative of Professor X and Magneto being lost in the Savage Land runs throughout this season.
The third season focuses on the cosmic force, the Phoenix, which merges with Jean Grey and eventually turns her into the malevolent and powerful Dark Phoenix. The season also introduced the Shiar Empire who want to stop the Dark Phoenix, including Lilandra and Gladiator. Other storylines include the introduction of Wolverines former lover turned mercenary, Lady Deathstrike, former X-Men member Iceman, and the villainous Shadow King.
2.1. Synopsis Adaptations
Although the majority of seriess stories are original, a number of storylines and events from the comics are loosely adapted in the series, such as:
2.2. Synopsis Season 2
- In "Time Fugitives parts 1 & 2" features a variation of the "Legacy Virus" story line where it was the creation of Apocalypse, who had created the virus with the aid of Graydon Creed and the Friends of Humanity, infecting innocent people and claiming that mutants were the ones who had caused the plague. In an attempt to stop the plague, Bishop came back from the future to destroy Apocalypses work before the virus could move on to mutants, but as a result vital antibodies that would allow the mutant race to survive future plagues were never created. Traveling back from even further in the future, Cable was able to come up with a compromise that allowed both Bishops and his own missions to succeed; although the plague never made the jump to mutants on a large-scale basis, Cable nevertheless ensured that Wolverine would be infected, thus creating the necessary antibodies while not killing any mutants thanks to Wolverines healing factor.
- Parts of the episode "A Rogues Tale" are based on "Rogue Redux" in Uncanny X-Men #269 October, 1990 and "By Friends – Betrayed!" in Avengers Annual #10 August, 1981.
- The episode "X-Ternally Yours" is based upon the "Gambit" 4 issue mini-series featuring "Tithing"/"Honor Amongst Thieves"/"The Benefactress"/"Thief of Time" which was published literally around the same time that episode first aired though in it Gambits brother is named Henri instead of Bobby.
- The episode "Repo Man" is based on "Shoot-Out at the Stampede!" from Uncanny X-Men #121 May, 1979, and the "Weapon X" story from Marvel Comics Presents #72-84 March–September 1991.
- The episode "Whatever It Takes" features a flashback depicting Mjnaris birth is based on the story "Life-Death II" from Uncanny X-Men #198 October, 1985. In that story, Storm discovered Shanis tribe after losing her mutant powers, and resuscitated Shanis unnamed son as in this episode. The story also featured a tribal elder named MjNari, who chose to die when Shanis son was born, so that the tribe would not become too numerous for its resources.
2.3. Synopsis Season 3
- "The Phoenix Saga Part 2: The Dark Shroud" is loosely based on "Like a Phoenix, from the Ashes" in Uncanny X-Men #101 October, 1976 and "Dark Shroud of the Past!" in Uncanny X-Men #106 August, 1977.
- "The Phoenix Saga Part 4: The Starjammers" is loosely based on "Where No X-Man Has Gone Before!" in Uncanny X-Men #107 October, 1977.
- "The Phoenix Saga Part 5: Child of Light" is loosely based on "Armageddon Now" in Uncanny X-Men #108 December, 1977.
- "The Dark Phoenix Saga Part 4: The Fate of the Phoenix" is based on the comic of the same name "The Fate of the Phoenix!" in Uncanny X-Men #137 September, 1980.
- "The Dark Phoenix Saga Part 2: The Inner Circle" is based on "Wolverine: Alone!" in Uncanny X-Men #133 May, 1980 & "Too Late, the Heroes!" in #134 Uncanny X-Men June, 1980. The battle with the Inner Circle follows the original comics very closely, with Beast taking the role of Nightcrawler when juggling Shaw, and Rogue taking the role of Colossus tearing the arm off Pierce.
- The episode "Orphans End" is based on "Reunion" in Uncanny X-Men #154 and "First Blood" in Uncanny X-Men #155.
- "The Dark Phoenix Saga Part 1: Dazzled" is both based heavily and loosely on different areas, of the story lines "Dazzler"/"Run for Your Life!"/ "And Hellfire is Their Name!" from Uncanny X-Men #130-132 February–April, 1980.
- "The Phoenix Saga Part 1: Sacrifice" is loosely based on "My Brother, My Enemy!" in Uncanny X-Men #97 February, 1976, "Deathstar, Rising!"/"Greater Love Hath No X-Man."/"Phoenix Unleashed!" in Uncanny X-Men #90-100 June–August 1976.
- "The Phoenix Saga Part 3: The Cry of the Banshee" is loosely based on "Who Will Stop the Juggernaut?"/"The Fall of the Tower"/"The Gentlemans Name is Magneto" in Uncanny X-Men #102-105.
- "Sanctuary Part 1" is loosely based on "Rubicon" in X-Men Vol 2 #1 October, 1991 and "Firestorm" in X-Men Vol #2 November, 1991 from the X-Men: Legacy series and the "Fatal Attractions" crossover storyline.
- "The Dark Phoenix Saga Part 3: The Dark Phoenix" is based on "Dark Phoenix" in Uncanny X-Men #135 July, 1980 and "Child of Light and Darkness!" in Uncanny X-Men #136 August, 1980.
- "Sanctuary Part 2" is loosely based on "Fallout!" X-Men Vol 2 #3 December, 1991 from the X-Men: Legacy series and the "Fatal Attractions" crossover storyline.
2.4. Synopsis Season 4
- The episode "Weapon X, Lies, & Videotape" is loosely based on the story-lines "The Shiva Scenario Part 1: Dreams of Gore, Phase 1"/"Shiva Scenario Part 2: Dreams of Gore: Phase Two"/"The Shiva Scenario Part 3: Dreams of Gore: Phase 3" from Wolverine #48–50 November, 1992-January 1993, with a bit of the story-lines "Nightmare Quest!"/"Reunion!"/"Bastions of Glory!"/"What Goes Around." from issues #61-64 September–December 1992 thrown in, as well though the robot Talos is called "Shiva" there, and the Weapon X project has more members.
2.5. Synopsis Season 5
- The 2-part final season opener "Phalanx Covenant" was adapted from the comic of the same name September–October 1994 with Beast as the central character. The Phalanx were conceived to be fully alien and not mutant hating humans who were infected with the technology, becoming more like the Technarchy, with Cameron Hodge working along with them serving much the same role as in the comics. During the two parter, Beast teams up with Warlock, Forge part of X-Factor, Mr Sinister, Amelia Voght who was working on Muir Island at the time and Magneto.
- The episode "Old Soldiers" is loosely based on "Madripoor Knights" in Uncanny X-Men #268 September, 1990. It tells the tale of Logan, while acting as a special operative for Canada, teaming up with Captain America and the Howling Commandos during World War II to rescue someone who had been captured by Red Skull. Logan would use detachable metal claws to scale the side of a mountain and then comment how he liked them.
- The episode "Jubilees Fairytale Theater" is based on "Kittys Fairy Tale" in Uncanny X-Men #153 January, 1982. Where Kitty Pryde told a fairytale to Illyana Rasputina, replacing Kitty Pryde with Jubilee and Illyana Rasputina with school children.
3.1. Voice cast Principal cast
- Gambit / Remy LeBeau Chris Potter 1992–1996, Tony Daniels 1997): He can charge virtually any object with explosive energy, turning them into bombs; they only explode once he lets go of the object. He also wields a staff for close combat, and for when hes out of playing cards to throw. Potter was cast while filming Kung Fu: The Legend Continues in Toronto; unfamiliar with the X-Men, his co-star David Carradine was a big fan of the comics. Potter later auditioned for the role of Cyclops in the 2000 film.
- Wolverine / Logan Cathal J. Dodd: A mutant with a regenerative healing factor, heightened senses, an adamantium-laced skeleton that render his bones virtually indestructible, and retractable claws capable of cutting virtually anything. He was attracted to Jean Grey, but decided not to come against Scott Summers.
- Cyclops / Scott Summers Norm Spencer: The second-in-command and field commander of the X-Men. He possesses the ability to fire concussive blasts from his eyes. He and Jean Grey are in a longstanding relationship, and marry at the end of season four when Apocalypse is working in between the time space continuum.
- Jean Grey / Phoenix Catherine Disher: A telekinetic and telepath. She is in a longstanding relationship with Cyclops, and they marry at the end of the fourth season, when she is captured by Apocalypse in the time space continuum. Disher had originally auditioned for the part of Storm.
- Professor X / Charles Xavier Cedric Smith: The founder and leader of the X-Men and a powerful telepath. Throughout the series, he fights for mutant rights while teaching his students the importance of never giving into temptation or lose sight of what really matters.
- Storm / Ororo Munroe Iona Morris 1992–1993, Alison Sealy-Smith 1993–1997): She is able to control the weather, using it to injure her foes or fly and is third in command of the X-Men. Storm has to remain in constant control of her emotions, as they are linked to her powers; if she let loose, she would call horrific weather conditions that would put lives at jeopardy.
- Beast / Dr. Henry "Hank" McCoy George Buza: His mutation covers his body in fur and morphs his body, granting him superhuman strength and agility to complement his genius mind. He spends most of the first season imprisoned for destroying the governments records of registered mutants, which was being abused by Henry Gyrich and Bolivar Trask. Buza would later appear in a small role in the 2000 live action film, playing a truck driver at the start of the film.
- Rogue Lenore Zann: She possesses the uncontrollable ability to absorb the memories, powers and energy of those she touches; however, if Rogue holds onto someone too long, their consciousness will be trapped in her subconscious. She has permanently absorbed the superhuman strength, durability and flight of Ms. Marvel who was left comatose due to this.
- Jubilee / Jubilation Lee Alyson Court: The newest and youngest member of the X-Men, she is close to Wolverine. She is still getting used to her powers, which are the ability to generate firework-like explosions. Court and Dodd had been neighbors when Court was still a child and Dodd was already a well-known actor in Canada. Court attributes their characters chemistry to being previously acquainted with one another. Originally another voice actor had been cast as Jubilee, but Court was cast when the original voice was deemed too sweet and innocent sounding for the role.
4. Other versions
The original opening sequence featured the X-Men demonstrating their mutant abilities to a now very distinctive instrumental theme written by Ron Wasserman. This intro is used throughout the first four seasons. A modified version is eventually introduced in season five, episode one "Phalanx Covenant, Part One". In this new intro, the beginning of the theme is slightly changed. When UPN began airing repeats on Sunday mornings an alternate credits sequence was used: a high-quality Japanese-animated version of the original opening. This modified version occasionally appears in the digital streaming release of the show, which was used for re-runs on Toon Disney.
X-Men originally aired on TV Tokyo from 1994 through 1995. For the TV Tokyo dub of the series, the intro was replaced with a new, Japanese-animated sequence as well as a new theme called "Rising" ライジング, by the band Ambience アンビエンス. Starting with episode 42, a second new intro was used, featuring the song "Dakishimetai Dare Yori Mo" 抱きしめたい誰よりも. The end credits sequence was also changed: it featured shots of American X-Men comic books set to the song "Back to You" バック･トウ･ユー, also by Ambience.
The TV Tokyo dub was directed by Yoshikazu Iwanami and featured scripts rewritten to include a more humorous, self-satirical tone as well as an emphasis on comical adlibbing a hallmark of Iwanamis dubbing style. Episodes were edited for time so that new segments could be added to the end which promoted the X-Men: Children of the Atom video game from Capcom. The dub actors would pretend to play the game as their characters and make humorous asides and remarks. X-Men was dubbed a second time in the early 2000s for broadcast on Toon Disney Japan. This dub was more faithful to the original English scripts and episodes were not cut for time. The Toon Disney version used the original American intro and end credits rather than the unique ones created for the TV Tokyo version.
Two versions of the episode "No Mutant is an Island" exist with completely different animation. The first version was aired for Toon Disney re-runs and can be seen in digital streaming services such as iTunes and Amazon Video and is available on region 1 DVD. The first version uses the theme song mix from Seasons 1–4, while the second version called the US Version by fans, which was reanimated, aired in the US on FOX in Season 5 and was on Marvel.com for a while, used the Season 5 remixed theme.
The show was both acclaimed and commercially successful. Along with Batman: The Animated Series, the series success helped launch numerous comic book shows in the 1990s.
In its prime, X-Men garnered very high ratings for a Saturday morning cartoon, and like Batman: The Animated Series, it received wide critical praise for its portrayal of many different storylines from the comics. Haim Saban credits the success of the series in assisting him to sell his next project to Fox, the live action series, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
The show has been hailed as a pioneer in crafting mature, serialized storylines for an animated series, as well as paving the way for the 2000 X-Men feature film. In 2009, IGN ranked X-Men as the 13th greatest animated show of all time in their Top 100 list.
6.1. Spin-offs X-Men Adventures
X-Men Adventures was a comic book spin-off of the animated series. Beginning in November 1992, it adapted the first three seasons of the show; in April 1996, it became Adventures of the X-Men, which contained original stories set within the same continuity. The comic book lasted until March 1997, shortly after the shows cancellation by the Fox Network.
Volume 5 of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Hardcovers lists the X-Men cartoon as part of the Marvel multiverse, inhabiting Earth-92131. Also, the plague-infested future that Bishop tried to prevent in Season 2 is listed as Earth-13393 while Cables release of the immediate cure of the plague is listed as Earth-121893.
6.2. Spin-offs Bibliography
- X-Men Adventures vol. 3 1995–96 13 issues
- X-Men Adventures vol. 2 1994–95 13 issues
- Adventures of the X-Men 1996–97 12 issues
- X-Men Adventures vol. 1 1992–94 15 issues
6.3. Spin-offs Video games
- X-Men Cartoon Maker: The PC game X-Men Cartoon Maker was a recreational software package that allowed the user to create animations with a minimal level of sophistication by utilizing a library of backdrops, animations and sound effects from the show. Wolverine and Storm voice-only help you out.
- Capcoms VS. Series: The characters in the series were licensed by Capcom and were the inspiration for the video game X-Men: Children of the Atom, which in turn would be the basis for the Marvel vs. Capcom sub-series of video games. Most of the voice actors who did the voices in the series reprised their roles for the video game. Capcom would continue to use these characters long after the show was cancelled before eventually losing the rights to create Marvel-based games to Electronic Arts in 2001. Capcom, however, would reacquire the rights in 2008 and released Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds in 2011.
6.4. Spin-offs X-Men 92
The comic book series X-Men 92, one of the many tie-in titles for Marvels 2015 Secret Wars event and later was released in its second volume as a continuous series in early 2016, starring members of the TV shows reality.
7. Previously on X-Men
In 2017, series developer and showrunner Eric Lewald released the book Previously on X-Men: The Making of an Animated Series, which features his interviews with 36 of the staff and voice cast behind the TV series, as well as Lewalds personal experiences on the series development and production.
In 2019, Hungarian immigrant Zoltan Krisko has filed a lawsuit against the theme song from the series as he claims the song was plagiarized from the theme song to the 1984–91 Hungarian action-adventure television series Linda which was composed by Gyorgy Vukan.