Opinion: X-Men ’97 With 2021 Writing – Incoming Disappointment?
X-Men: The Animated Series captured the hearts of comic fans and youths in the 90s. The Disney Plus continuation will likely disappoint them.
Debuting in 1992 as part of Fox’s morning cartoon lineup, X-Men: The Animated Series managed to capture the essence of the comics, even adapting a number of fantastic comic book runs such as Days of Future Past, The Phalanx Covenant and the Phoenix Saga, just to name a few.
The Animated Series ran for 5 seasons, ending in 1997. And with that, a return of the series was announced for Disney Plus, seeking to continue where the series left off.
At least that’s the promise.
However, there are hesitations about any classic franchise getting made in current day, so while there might be some excitement for the X-Men ’97 series, the current state of Marvel writing might give audiences of the classic show a justifiable reason to hesitate.
Creatives and TDS
Unfortunately, the supervising director for X-Men ’97 has made his politics clear. In a post from last year, we see language indicating Jake Castorena’s politics, particularly towards audiences who might’ve voted differently than him.
Now while this might not indicate what creative direction he takes for the show, it’s caused fans of the old series to raise an eyebrow.
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Heck, seeing the show’s creative team taking such a stance against people based on their voting preferences might even turn a few audience members off of the show all together.
We could overlook Chris Evans political takes, to some extent at least, because he had limited creative influence on the MCU. However, there’s always a hesitation when a writer or someone with creative control not only has these sorts of takes, but also denigrates audiences who might have different ones than themselves.
Regarding politics, there have been arguments about “how it was always part of X-Men.” However, the issues were always more based in humanist values than anything else, rather than on-the-nose moralizing about climate change and gender identity – topics which make little sense in a fictional world where multiple realities, astral planes and shape-shifting exist.
Then there’s the idea of representation in voice acting, whose proponents believe that a cartoon character needs to be voiced by someone of the same race, that has run its course through the industry.
It’s what led to storied voice actors as Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer resigning from providing the voices of Apu and Dr. Hibbert, respectively, on the Simpsons, and even saw similar roles recast for shows such as Big Mouth, Bob’s Burgers, and Family Guy.
With that, we are seeing the original voice actor for Jubilation Lee, Alyson Court, stepping away from reprising her role in voicing the youngest X-Man. The actor expressed desire for an asian to voice the character. And that if she was asked to reprise the role, she would refuse.
By itself, not too much cause for alarm. But given the creative director’s politics being up front and as they are, it is more red flags.
Destroying The Past X-Men
We are seeing a current trend in Marvel. Well, in Hollywood as a whole, really. Characters who came before are being denigrated in order to elevate the new and upcoming characters.
In the MCU, Captain America is an old man rumored to be on the moon, and now we have a Black Captain America lecturing world leaders to “do better.” The difference in characterization between Loki in his solo series and his days in the original Avengers film make his current direction feel like a joke in comparison – Less a villain and more a clownish shadow of his former self.
For the women of Marvel, Black Widow’s characterization changed over the years, to the point where she’s no longer the femme fatale she was introduced as in Iron Man 2. Even Scarlet Johannson has come out to criticize how apparently ‘misogynistic’ the portrayal was in those earlier films.
Wanda Maximoff as portrayed in Wandavision, is an outright villain. She imprisons an entire town population without facing any consequences for her actions.
Thus, we have two women written to be powerful, independent characters, but without any actual thought or effort put into writing them outside of exalting them beyond any scope of reason.
Let’s also consider the upcoming Marvel films.
Thor is getting to the dropped for a better ruler of Asgard in Valkyrie, and an even better “Thor” in Jane Foster. Hawkeye will get an apprentice in Kate Bishop, who will most likely show him up in the archery field. And we’ll get to see a smarter, all-around superior Iron-Person in Riri Williams.
Not to mention the Ms. Marvel show, She-Hulk, and now Echo looking to replace the characters whose legacies paved the way for their creation.
2021 Current Film Red Flags
Even Covid-Era money still comes up short.
Eternals and Shang Chi haven’t made big waves in theaters, though this hasn’t stopped access media outlets from being quick to make them out to be triumphant and pivotal moments in cinema history, even though the box office numbers have hardly made up for their production budgets.
These results speak to the fact that, despite Disney’s attempts to market these films as cornerstone moments for this-or-that community, their writing is putting off audiences.
Marvel Studios VP (or whatever title she has now) Victoria Alonso recently stated that the critics weren’t “with us” (implying that said critics were against what they are doing), but the 75% drop for Eternals in its second week isn’t helping her argument.
All the while, another Marvel film devoid of pandering – Venom: Let There Be Carnage – has managed to pull just as well in their box office numbers.
Add to that the excitement surrounding a certain web-slinging Sony film coming out in December, which looks to provide ample fan service without highlighting Marvel’s outreach for diversity casting and messaging, and it’s clear that Marvel’s current direction is misguided at best.
X-Men In Name Only
All things considered, I have little confidence that X-Men 97′ will continue where the original TAS series left off. I’m sure the costumes from the Jim Lee-era books and the voice actors from 20+ years ago will be a hit of nostalgia for some, but the writing, especially in stories they want to adapt from the comic books, will most likely be the weakest, if not the most damning aspect of the show.
Though, considering what we’ve seen from the creative involved with the show and the environment of Hollywood writing in 2021, ‘damning’ might be too kind of a word to describe it. I would hate to see a rumored live-action X-Men come to fruition under the atmosphere of today.
What do you think of what’s coming from X-Men ’97? Do you think the Disney Plus show will be faithful to tone and theme of the original series? Sound off in the comments below or let’s talk about it on social media!