The truth is, Marvel doesn’t have a great track record with animated TV series. While Warner Bros. and DC Comics put out great series like Batman: The Animated Series, Marvel has always struggled to translate its creations in the animated realm. However, if there’s one Marvel property that has shined most in animation, it has to be the X-Men. Marvel’s group of persecuted mutant superheroes have had not one or two great shows, but a total of three amazing cartoon series, as well as appearances in various other animated Marvel properties.
Unfortunately, the animated X-Men have been off TV since 2009. Now, while we wait and pray for their triumphant return to the animated scene, we can reminisce about the good ol’ days with some new and interesting things we didn’t get to see originally. That’s right, we have scoured the Internet to locate unused art from each animated series. These include alternate character designs, proposals for characters that would premiere later, but never did, and much more. Remember that awesome intro to X-Men: The Animated Series? Did you know that wasn’t going to be the original opening? It’s true! Find out about that secret and a ton more in this list of 15 unused pieces of X-Men cartoon art.
Wolverine and the X-Men is often the forgotten X-Men cartoon. Lasting only one season in 2008, the series followed the X-Men we all know and love, with Wolverine being at the forefront. After the first season aired, fans were clamoring for a second season, but that was not to be. Even though pre-production was said to have started on season two, it was quickly cancelled.
Unfortunately, the series ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, hinting at one of the most beloved X-Men storylines of all time, “Age of Apocalypse.” As seen in the illustrations here, series artists had already designed many of the characters from the storyline. Cyclops, Sunfire, Magneto, Colossus, Sabretooth, and, of course, Weapon X, were all going to make appearances. Sadly, this is as close as we’ll get to seeing this sprawling alternate universe on our TV screens.
One of the most interesting episodes of X-Men: The Animated Series was called “One Man’s Worth.” In the episode, Wolverine and Storm are going for a romantic picnic. The episode then shows us a glimpse at an alternate future where the two characters are married and Xavier was killed. Magneto now led the team, in an alternate, dark future.
Two of the designs for alternate future X-Men that were never used were for Cyclops and Rogue. In the images, you see that the artists took “cyclops” literally, giving him a single beam that looked like one eye. Rogue, on the other hand, is very understated in her outfit, wearing what could have been Gambit’s coat and a full-body suit with rips in it. Sadly, they were never used.
Psylocke’s look has gone through a bunch of different variations over the decades. She’s gone from super skimpy to completely covered back to skimpy numerous times. But perhaps the most unique design for her we’ve seen is from the unused art from X-Men: Evolution.
The basics are all here. She has the purple hair. The color of the costume works. She even has the red mark over her eye. However, just about everything else is… odd. The entire sides of the costume are cut out and held together by straps. You can see that the artist was trying to keep the skimpiness of the classic Psylocke look, but still keep it PG enough for the kids that watch the cartoon. Sadly, this is the only bit of art available for what would have been her appearance in X-Men: Evolution.
Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes debuted in 2010 and lasted a total of 2 seasons. The series was mildly successful, but ultimately was completely overhauled in 2013 and relaunched as Avengers Assemble. This is obviously after the wild success of the 2012 live-action Avengers film. However, you might be wondering why this show appears on our list at all. Well, even though the series didn’t feature any mutants, the artists did come up with how that might have looked if the series continued.
In this bit of unused art, we see Cyclops and Jean Grey coming to Ant-Man’s aid during a battle. The style is very different than any other animated X-Men we have seen, but it’s actually pretty awesome. The costumes are reminiscent of the original ‘60s costumes, while still looking modern. Sadly, you’ll have to play the rest of the scene out in your imagination.
When X-Men: The Animated Series premiered in 1992, the designs of the X-Men were very faithful to their most current comic book iterations. The series basically took everything that Jim Lee had done with X-Men and put it on the screen. However, the artists involved did play around a little bit with the designs, to see which would be best for the TV show.
When you look at the first designs for Jean Grey, you see the overall idea, but with little changes. The size and placement of the X on her stomach has been tweaked. The amount of blue and yellow, along with the size of her shoulder pads, have all been tinkered with. Ultimately, the design that makes it on the screen is very close to these, but it’s interesting to note that the littlest changes can still make a huge difference.
Wolverine and the X-Men has its fair share of unused art, due to its untimely cancellation. In addition to using “Age of Apocalypse” as an inspiration, the series also was going to introduce a variety of new characters. One such character is everyone’s favorite time-displaced, telepathic, telekinetic, large gun-carrying, many pouch-having soldier with a complicated past, Cable. The other was everyone’s favorite Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool!
As you seen in the proposed design for the characters, the artists were probably hoping to tone down all the things that make Cable a bit of a joke, while also keeping Deadpool very faithful to the comics. Cable only has several pouches, versus the hundreds (maybe thousands) of pouches he had in the ‘90s comic books. One thing is for sure, fans really missed out on an awesome opportunity to see Deadpool and Cable in animated form.
X-Men: Evolution enjoyed four seasons on air from 2000 to 2003. The series was a huge departure from the ‘90s animated series, as well as the comic books. Setting the characters in the modern day, but as teens, the characters all had unique designs that reflected the early 2000s era. However, the series was cancelled before the producers had a chance to fully finish their story.
One of the unfortunate casualties to this cancellation was Emma Frost. At that time, in the comics, Emma was just starting her current incarnation as a recovering baddie who took a liking to Cyclops. In the cartoon, she would have followed suit, much to the dismay of Jean Grey. In the art, you see a slight alteration to her costume. Clearly, they wanted to keep the sex appeal, but still keep it PG enough for Saturday morning TV.
Back before Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was being overhauled into Avengers Assemble, the goal was to add a couple new Avengers to the team for future seasons. One of the biggest additions would have been the most popular mutant of all time, Wolverine. However, once the MCU Avengers became such a huge deal, there was no place for a mutant on the team, so the idea was scrapped.
When you see the costume design for Wolverine, you can tell the artists were going for a classic look. The yellow and blue that everyone loves would have been the go-to costume. Perhaps the best part is how short the character looks in these drawings. He’s almost hunched over, showing that he’s smaller, and stockier, than the likes of Cap and Thor. Oh well, maybe one day we’ll see Wolverine join up with the Avengers on the small screen.
Season 2 of Wolverine and the X-Men wasn’t just going to see the introduction of new characters and fun storylines, but also, feature some new costumes for the returning cast. Two cast members, Cyclops and Jean Grey, were actually going to adopt costumes that made fans remember the good ol’ days of the ‘90s series.
That’s right, the costumes that Scott and Jean were going to wear were basically their classic ‘90s costumes. Cyclops would have his blue and yellow, with the straps over his chest and big, chunky visor. Jean would have had the classic Animated Series look, with just a few tweaks to make it more modern and less ‘90s. Without a doubt, these probably would have been the best designs these characters have had in the animated domain.
One of the characters from X-Men: Evolution with the most radical change from her comic counterpart is Rogue. The character that exists in the cartoon was goth, with most of her outfits being some sort of green and black leather combo. Even her superhero costume had the green and black motif. However, that wasn’t always the case.
For some odd reason, one of the alternate outfits for her would have included a facemask. This design is from the time when all the X-Men were going to have the black and yellow look, but to separate Rogue from the rest of the group, they decided that perhaps a mask would be good. The other costume featured no green, and an exposed mid-section. Not too crazy, but still not the best. This is an example of the best design eventually winning out, and thankfully we didn’t see this grace our TV screen.
We all love the intro song for X-Men: The Animated Series. It’s truly iconic. At the mere mention, everyone automatically hums the opening guitar chords. However, that song and intro were originally going to be very, very different. In fact, there wouldn’t have even been a wild rock intro at all.
Instead, the original idea was going to focus on how the X-Men are hated and feared. As seen in the storyboard, the intro would have began with a spotlight put on the team’s “wanted” poster, with “dead or alive” underneath. Then a voiceover would have gone over the history of how mutants are hated by the public. Ultimately, they decided this was a bit too grim for a Saturday morning cartoon, so they ditched it in favor of the rock song and flashy intros of each character and their powers. A wise choice, indeed.
There’s really no debate when you say that DC and Warner Bros. dominate superhero animated feature films. However, in the mid 2000s, Marvel tried its best at entering that domain with its series of animated features. After minor success with its previous five animated films, Marvel took a shot at a Hulk film, titled Hulk Versus.
The film is not great, honestly. However, it does feature a fight between Hulk and Wolverine, bringing to mind their original altercation. Seriously, you can skip the film, but the concept art that was created for the fight is actually beautiful. It dwarfs anything that was in the actual film, and instead, it’s just one of the best pieces of Hulk and Wolverine art in existence. Maybe Marvel would have had better success if it went more avant-garde with the animation style?
One of the biggest changes made to characters in X-Men: The Animated Series had to do with the evil aliens, The Brood. The Brood in the comics are disgusting, but scary, aliens who, collectively, have been among the X-Men’s greatest foes. They almost remind you of Xenomorphs but green. In the cartoon episode, “Love in Vain,” however, they’re still green, but they wear metal suits and fire lasers.
The reasons for this change probably had something to do with differentiating them from the xenomorphs and making them more kid-friendly. However, when the lead artist was trying to come up with a design for the Brood Queen, he didn’t look at the X-Men comics. He looked at Thor. If you look at this original design for the Queen, you can see a very big resemblance to Hela, Goddess of Death. That’s all on purpose. He wanted to design her to be a mixture of a Brood and Hela. Why? Who the hel knows?
The proposed season 2 of Wolverine and the X-Men would have greatly expanded the mythos of the TV series. Adding new costumes to existing characters, introducing the “Age of Apocalypse” story, and plenty of new faces would have made season 2 pretty incredible. In the art seen here, we get a good glimpse at what a few more of the new faces around Xavier’s would have looked like.
While these aren’t finished designs, you can tell that Havok was going more towards his classic look. Majik still has her “not-quite-all-there” look in her face, where you know that she is more troubled than she lets on. Unlike the movies, Mystique actually wears clothes, with her trademark skull on the belt. This look for Mystique brings to mind her outfit worn in her solo series by writer Brian K. Vaughan.
The costumes seen in X-Men: Evolution went through a variety of alternate designs. From Rogue wearing a mask to different color schemes for the whole cast. However, in this bit of unused art, we see what might have been the whole cast with very different costumes.
While a few of the costumes are pretty much the same as the TV show, minus some color changes, there are some big differences. Wolverine’s costume is just a little odd, with the huge shoulder pads and odd colors. Spyke can be seen with a different hair style and costume. The oddest, however, is whatever Kitty Pryde is wearing. Honestly, it looks like she raided the costume closet at Xavier’s and pieced this together herself. Not a strong choice, Kitty.
What do you think of these X-Men animated concept designs? Would you have preferred them to what we got? Tell us in the comments!