Welcome to another edition of Thursday Morning Cartoons with yours truly. This week, we’ll be diving into another classic superhero toon with X-men. This show is the 90'sist cartoon ever, so I’m curious to see if it will hold up nearly as well as Batman: TAS did.
As always for those who like to follow along with me, I watched : “Night of the Sentinels Parts 1 & 2” , “Enter Magneto”, and “Days of Future Past Parts 1 & 2”. I tried to pick episodes that featured the biggest characters, and yes I’m skipping The Phoenix Saga it’s just too damn long for one of these articles.
The first thing I noticed upon booting up the episode is that theme song, It’s such an iconic and memorable thing. I bet upon mentioning it, anyone who saw the show as a kid is hearing it play in their heads right now.
Love that thing.
OK, so the first episode. The show opens with a young girl being registered as a mutant by her parents. It becomes painfully obvious that mutant is a feared and hated label in this show. Jubilee is the audience’s stand in character, she’s supposed to serve as our introduction to the universe and what it means to be a mutant. It’s just too bad that she’s whiny and annoying. The show plays much better when it focuses on Gambit, Rogue and Storm, or really anyone else. Luckily, Jubilee finds herself kidnapped about halfway through the first part of the episode and we start to see the team dynamic at work. Overall a pretty mediocre episode, even if it does a decent job of introducing the X-men without a big exposition dump.
Part two starts much stronger and picks up the action. It also kills off a character almost immediately, which for a kids show in the 90's was pretty ballsy. It does a good job of endearing the audience to Wolverine, and setting up the tense love triangle between Cyclops, Jean Gray, and Wolverine. It’s a pretty great way to set up the relationships, enhance the drama, and bring in audience attention. Best of all, Jubilee is pretty much absent through the whole thing, still being kidnapped and all.
Ok, let’s take a little bit of a breather after those episodes to talk about the animation quality. It’s not the best and it doesn’t hold up nearly as well as I thought it would, probably doesn’t help that there’s no HD version of the show available. It ups the nostalgia factor a bit, but for the most part it makes the episodes harder to watch. The voice acting is superb though (except for Jubilee of course).
Enter Magneto builds directly on where Night of The Sentinels left off, using the serial nature of the show fantastically. It also established Magneto and Sabretooth as villains. Yes it hit a lot of the same beats on Magneto that we’ve all heard several times by now, but as this came earlier than most adaptations, it’s good to see that it handled his characterization with ease. Plus Beast’s speech in this is just so spot on. It reminds me why I’m a fan of the casting of Kelsey Grammar in X-2.
Days of Future Past was another two parter. It mashed together a couple favorite X-men storylines, including the titular one and the badass 90's styled time cop Bishop. Time travel in cartoons means we get to see alternate versions of characters we love and this is certainly no different. As far as adapting the original story goes, it doesn’t even come close, but it was a fun couple of episodes on its own.
So, X-men overall: A fun view into 90's superheroes and all the camp and cheese that comes with that. Plus because it was a serialized show each episode built on the one before it which was definitely appreciated. Oh and that theme song. Love it. It did have some terrible parts though, a lot of the dialogue comes off as stilted and it was heavy handed with a lot of it’s themes.
What’s everyone else’s thoughts on X-men? Love it? Hate it? Think I missed the best episode (insert episode here) ever? Let me know!
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