For many, many ’90s kids, Fox’s X-Men: The Animated Series (otherwise just known as X-Men) was their introduction to the universe of Marvel’s merry mutants. And even if they read the comics prior to the series premiere in 1992, it’s probably the ’90s-era costumes (oh, all the yellow and blue) are the ones deeply embedded in their minds. Though X-Men has changed over time, it’s still that original animated series that speaks to the most people, and that is, of course, why Disney+ has decided to bring it back in a brand new animated series follow-up called X-Men ’97,
As part of the Disney+ Day deluge of announcements, we got the surprise announcement of a continuation to the beloved ’90s X-Men series. Specifically 1997, which is of course the year the original series went off the air. With the hilarious “Longing Wolverine” meme at their disposal, they made sure we all knew what version of the mutant heroes we’d get. Whether it will be the same stylish but rather stilted animation in addition to the familiar character designs is still unknown. Hopefully they improve where applicable.
Not only were the original designs of the characters the most iconic versions (even today), but the Canadian series’ cast of voice actors are the de-facto versions of those characters. In an episode of This Week in Marvel, we learned a number of the original cast members will return for the follow up.
Cal Dodd, Lenore Zann, George Buza, Alison Sealy-Smith, Chris Potter, Catherine Disher, Adrian Hough, and Christopher Britton will reprise their original roles, with others voicing entirely brand-new parts. X-Men ’97 will also welcome a number of new voices to the cast, including Jennifer Hale, Anniwaa Buachie, Ray Chase, Matthew Waterson, JP Karliak, Holly Chou, Jeff Bennett, and AJ LoCascio.
We learned in early 2022, via IGN, that X-Men ’97 will pick up directly after the original X-Men animated series’ finale. The original series’ showrunners, Eric and Julia Lewald, talked to YouTuber Justin Underwood about the upcoming show. They’re consulting on X-Men ’97. Julia Lewald said at about 35 minutes into the video, “They want this show to pick up where the original X-Men series wrapped.”
Eric Lewald added that Disney wants X-Men ’97 to be an extension. They’ll be looking at, “Where is [Charles Xavier] and what are we going to do with him?” And that’s good, because the original series ended with an injured Professor X going off into space with Empress Lilandra.
That said, I would hope the new series retains the amazing writing and grown-up storytelling that the original had, even if the voices and animation have to change with the time. Surface level replication is fine, but it’s the heart of the characters and their struggles that made X-Men one of the best cartoons of all time.
X-Men ’97 will premiere on Disney+ some time in 2023.
Originally published November 23, 2022.