‘X-Men ‘97’ Pays Respect to Its History and Blazes a Bold Trail Forward

Ulises Duenas

 

Whenever there’s news of an old show or movie series being revived, it’s natural to approach it with caution, even if you’re a hardcore fan. After so many halfhearted cash grabs that preyed on nostalgia, it can be hard to believe that new creators can do a beloved series justice. But I’m happy to say that X-Men ‘97 is a great tribute to the original, and one of the best comic book adaptations ever made.

 

This new show picks up where the original series left off. After all their battles and adventures, the X-Men are left without a leader as they face an uncertain future. Political tensions are also high as world leaders debate what actions humanity should take regarding mutants.

 

 

X-Men always stood out in pop culture because of how well it mixed the usual superhero formula with issues of oppression, bigotry, and identity. ‘97 shows the full potential of how good X-Men can be as it blends those heavy themes with classic humor in a masterful way. The action scenes are not only a spectacle, but they also weave in drama to make for a truly engrossing watch.

 

Important characters like Wolverine, Cyclops, and Jean Grey are still heavily involved in the story, but this show also does a great job of making everyone else shine. Newer characters like Morph and Jubilee are  more developed, and favorites like Storm and Rogue are placed in more prominent spots. It’s clear that the showrunner, Beau DeMayo, has a deep love for the property and a great understanding of what makes X-Men special.

 

 

This season is only 10 episodes long, but it covers a lot of ground. The show moves at a lightning pace given how quickly it flies through several arcs from the comics. I wouldn’t say it moves so quickly that it becomes hard to follow, but fans of the comics might walk away feeling that some stories were left underdeveloped. Even so, the writing does a great job of tying several plot points together and paying them off in fantastic ways. The midpoint climax alone is amazing.

 

A lot of modern superhero stories -- whether movies, shows, or comic books -- have fallen into a habit of making the stakes feel low. Many writers are afraid to kill off some characters for good, and when an audience knows that anyone who dies is likely to return, then it makes any danger or villain seem pointless. This show isn’t afraid of high stakes, and even though it’s is a love letter to the past, it blazes its own path where no character is truly safe. It adds to the drama and gives weight to every plot point and villain.

 

 

As a longtime fan of the original cartoon, I am over the moon to see how good this revival is. It’s meant for those who watched the original and want a more mature and faithful depiction of the comic book stories that came after the original run. It’s so well done that I can recommend it to people who have never seen anything X-Men-related before.

 

Even if you’re not into comic books in general, I recommend at least giving this show a shot because it’s one of the best adaptations ever made.

 

Author Bio:

Ulises Duenas is a senior writer and film critic at Highbrow Magazine.

 

For Highbrow Magazine

 

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