Here’s Where X-MEN: THE ANIMATED SERIES Left Marvel’s Mutants

The trailer for X-Men ’97 has us seriously excited for the return of the ’90s versions of Marvel’s mutants. But where did the classic X-Men: The Animated Series series leave off, way back on September 20, 1997? Here’s a recap of the finale episode, which changed the status quo of mutants in the world, and especially at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.

The final shot from Graduation Day, the last episode of X-Men: The Animated Series.

“Previously, on X-Men…”

In the original X-Men: The Animated Series finale, “Graduation Day,” things changed drastically for the student of Charles Xavier. The final chapter begins at an important mutant/human relations summit at the United Nations. Known mutant hater Henry Peter Gyrich tries to make a case in front of the world that mutants are an existential threat to humanity, and must be rounded up and imprisoned, or worse. Xavier then appears, pleading the mutant race’s case in front of the global stage. It’s then that Gyrich activates a device that causes Xavier’s mutant telepathy to overload, sending psychic shockwaves into the crowd, and placing Xavier into a coma.

Charles Xavier is attacked and exposed as a mutant in the X-Men series finale Graduation Day.

Gyrich is taken into custody, but his plan worked. Xavier was exposed as a mutant to the world, and his existence hammers the point home to the world that mutants can look just like ordinary humans. This causes a wave of anti-mutant hysteria across the world, in a way never seen before. Mutants begin protesting, and eventually, some mutants take over human cities. They look to Magneto to unite them, and hopefully start a war against humanity where they will emerge as the truly superior species.

Magneto rallies a mutant army, including famous heroes like Sunfire and Feral.

Meanwhile, Xavier lies in the X-Mansion’s sickbay. Gyrich’s weapon is killing him rapidly, and there is nothing the X-Men can do to save him. They have their teammate Morph, a shapeshifter, appear as Xavier in front of the world, attempting to quell the violence. Nevertheless, the ruse is not enough to get the world’s mutants to stand down. Magneto, now in the mutant nation of Genosha, begins to lead an army of mutants. Among them is the Japanese mutant Sunfire, and the catlike Feral.

The X-Men gather around a ailing Xavier in the episode Graduation Day.

It occurs to the X-Men that while human medicine can’t save Xavier’s life, advanced alien technology might be able to. They believe that by contacting Xavier’s great love Lilandra, Empress of the Shi’ar Empire, her alien technology could restore their beloved leader. But without Xavier’s telepathy, they have no way of reaching across thousands of light years. However, Xavier’s old friend Magneto might be able to save him. So Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Wolverine go to Genosha to convince him to save his old friend. Although at first reluctant, Magneto agrees to help.

The X-Men go to Genosha to recruit Magneto to help Charles Xavier.

When Magneto arrives at the X-mansion, Xavier is near death. He uses his power to control magnetic waves to augment Xavier’s telepathy. He reaches out to Lilandra, and she arrives to take him to the Shi’ar Throneworld. She assures that while her species’ advanced technology can save his life, he will have to remain in their care. Xavier tearfully says farewell to each of his students. He gets especially emotional when saying goodbye to Jean, his first student, and Cyclops, whom he regards as a son. He leaves the Cyclops in charge, and takes off with Lilandra to deep space. They imply that Magneto chooses not to attack humanity in honor of his old friend, as we see him standing with the X-Men at the end of the episode. Xavier’s students officially graduate in this final episode, inheriting their mentor’s dream of a future where mutants and humans can coexist.

The X-Men and Magneto say farewell to Xavier as he takes off to space with Lilandra.

In every trailer and image we’ve seen thus far for X-Men ’97, it appears that the new series picks up right from this point. We see the X-Men in the field with Scott Summers as leader, taking charge of the team. We also see Magneto taking over the reins of Xavier’s school, per his last will and testament. It remains a mystery as to whether the X-Men will tell the world that Xavier has recovered, or if they’ll try to sell everyone on the idea that he has died. And how will Mister Sinister try to take advantage of the situation? We’ll find out when X-Men ’97 premieres on Disney+ on March 20.

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