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Comic Legends: Why Didn’t Thunderbird Die on the X-Men Animated Series?

by  in CBR Exclusives, Comics, Comic News Comment
Comic Legends: Why Didn’t Thunderbird Die on the X-Men Animated Series?

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and fifty-second week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

Click here for the first part of this week’s legends (which are all related to the X-Men Animated Series, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary).

COMIC LEGEND:

The X-Men Animated Series was originally going to kill off Thunderbird instead of Morph.

STATUS:

True

The X-Men Animated Series turned 25 years old this week and this weekend, we will be celebrating that anniversary with three legends about the series! Not only that, but each legend will be based on something that I read in an advanced copy of an awesome new book about the series by the series showrunner (or whatever the 1992 animated equivalent of that term), Eric Lewald called Previously on X-Men: The Making of an Animated Series

You can buy a copy of the book right from the publisher right here.

In a recent legend, I discussed how Thunderbird only appeared in the X-Men Animated Series in the opening credits and then briefly in a cameo with a bunch of other captured mutants. He was featured as a villain in the opening credits for the simple reason that they had too many heroes in the credits and they wanted to balance things out, so Thunderbird got placed on the villain side in the credits.

However, interestingly enough, Thunderbird (whose only major animated role was when he was shown as part of the X-Men in an episode of Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends, which is where the featured image for this piece comes from) was originally intended to die in the opening storyline of the X-Men series, just like how he died in the first mission of the All-New, All-Different X-Men…

Eric shared the original short summary for the first two episodes of the X-Men Animated Series in the book and they read…

EPISODES 1 & 2: Mutant/human political conflict is established. Human fears have led governments to begin registering Mutants. The National Security Council Bureau of Mutant Affairs, headed by HENRY GYRICH, is using a force of huge robots (SENTINELS) to keep track of them. Unknown to the public, a conspiracy within the Bureau (led by Gyrich) is secretly changing the robots’ mission from Mutant control to Mutant elimination…

The Sentinels attack 13-year-old JUBILEE’s family. She is saved by the X-MEN. We are introduced to many of the X-Men, DR. XAVIER, and their headquarters through Jubilee’s eyes. At the same time, she is discovering her new Mutant powers. She has to sneak away, is captured by the Sentinels, and saddened X-Men believe she is dead.

Xavier’s patience with the Sentinels is at an end. They must be stopped. The X-Men raid the National Security Council to get the registration files used by the Sentinels to identify and attack Mutants. There’s a battle, the files are successfully destroyed, but X-Man THUNDERBIRD is killed and X-Man BEAST is captured by the police.

See? Thunderbird was originally going to die. However, Eric notes in the book that someone said that it was kind of weird that they were going to kill off their only Native American character right away. So they decided to go a different direction. While researching X-Men history, Eric came across a character named Changeling…

who had sacrificed himself for Professor X, so he decided to use him. However, someone then told him that there was a problem, since DC had since introduced a notable character named Changeling…

And so Changeling became Morph…

And the rally funny thing was that they had done all of this work to come up with the perfect character to kill (they liked Morph better than Thunderbird because the whole idea was to kill someone who would really affect Wolverine and having a nice, funny guy die would have had more impact than killing a loner like Thunderbird who would be too similar to Wolverine) and they soon found that kids loved Morph and so the network kept pushing them to bring Morph back to life (which they eventually did)!

Thanks again to Eric! Go get his book, people!


Check out my latest TV Legends Revealed – Did Bob Dylan nearly have his own sitcom on HBO?


Part 3 will be up in on Sunday! Feel free to write in with suggestions for future legends to either cronb01@aol.com or brianc@cbr.com!

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