Some of the creative team behind X-Men: The Animated Series hopes to pitch executives on a revival of the beloved 1990s cartoon for the new Disney+ streaming service. The idea, at least at this point, is to pick up where the show left off in 1997, after airing for five seasons on Fox Kids.
Following Disney's acquisition 21st Century Fox's key assets, the X-Men film and television rights are now in the hands of the entertainment giant. A return of the '90s classic seems like an easy decision, but just in case Disney executives need convincing, we make a case for why X-Men: The Animated Series should rise again.
IT NEEDS A PROPER ENDING
Through revivals of cartoons like Samurai Jack and Young Justice: Outsiders, we've seen how good a later continuation of a beloved series can be. Based on the way that X-Men: The Animated Series left things in its fifth and final season, the series could definitely use the same treatment.
Originally, the show was supposed to end with Season 4's epic four-parter, "Beyond Good and Evil." This arc saw the X-Men taking on Apocalypse and bringing in fan favorite, Cable. But, the show became a victim of its own success, with Fox not only ordering an additional six episodes for Season 4, but a whole new follow-up season.
To save money, the final episodes of the series were tasked to Saban (of Power Rangers fame) to produce in-house rather than with the involvement of Graz Entertainment, who had handled the series thus far. Saban hired Philippine Animation Studio to assist, resulting in some poor animation quality -- even by 1996's standards.
In addition to this, the series never got the big action-packed send-off it deserved -- which is what "Beyond Good and Evil" would have been. Instead, the show wrapped up with a single episode titled, "Graduation Day." This episode saw Henry Peter Gyrich attack the X-Men, leaving Professor Xavier in dire straits until Lilandra comes to save him. The caveat? Xavier must leave with her for the Shi'Ar Empire in order to be cured.
While the episode closes out with a final Magneto/Xavier moment, which highlights the duo's complicated relationship, there's something all too unsatisfactory about the ending. The final scene has the X-Men standing with Magneto as they bid adieu to the Professor. But, what happens next?
Arguably, some of the best X-Men stories haven't involved Xavier prominently. This leaves room to develop stories like Magneto and the New Mutants, an arc featured a lot in the original New Mutants. This would also open up the possibility of new stories chronicling Cyclops as the Headmaster of the Xavier School, leading into arcs like Joss Whedon's acclaimed, Astonishing X-Men.
WE NEED BETTER X-MEN ADAPTATIONS
Due to the complications of the Fox/Disney ownership of the characters, we haven't actually gotten a proper X-Men cartoon since 2009's Wolverine and the X-Men. Reviving the classic series could be the push needed to reintroduce the mutants to the medium. Now that Disney owns the X-Men, it could be interesting to see how the animation powerhouse matches up with the much-loved Fox original cartoon.
In the wake of the X-Men/MCU cinematic merger finally coming to a close, Disney has been rather tight-lipped on the status of the X-Men. It's unlikely that Marvel Studios will bring the mutants into the fray until 2024 at the least, leaving X-Men fans with a void that needs to be filled. For many fans, the '90s cartoon was their first introduction into the world of Uncanny X-Men and a series like this could once again introduce the heroes to a whole new generation of cartoon-watchers, paving the way for an eventual MCU X-Takeover.
Sure, the '90s cartoon still holds a place in the hearts of many (who could forget that theme song?), but it's hard to ignore that there are aspects that haven't aged well. The voice acting could be a bit hammy at times and the animation a bit choppy. A new, 21st-century sheen could do wonders for a cast of characters that haven't had cartoon form for a decade. Plus, after the disappointment of Dark Phoenix, fans need a pallet cleanser. What better way than to revamp one of the most popular X-Men adaptations?
THERE'S EVEN MORE TO ADAPT NOW
One of the best parts of the original series was seeing how the comic arcs got translated onto the small screen. X-Men: The Animated Series took classic arcs like "The Phoenix Saga," "The Dark Phoenix Saga," and "Days of Future Past," and adapted them better than the movies ever have.
These epic sagas were encompassed within multi-episode arcs, always promising for an intense ride. The series was also quick to follow modern continuity, too. For example, about a year after Scott and Jean tied the knot in X-Men #30, the cartoon did their own take on "The Wedding of Cyclops and Phoenix." Big arcs of the era like the "Phalanx Covenant," and "The Legacy Virus," also found their way into the cartoon.
Having relatively current arcs adapted so quickly meant that fans could see the events of their favorite comics unfold almost exactly as they were happening. We've seen "The Dark Phoenix Saga" plenty of times by now, so what about -- in a revived animated series -- an adaptation of "Phoenix Resurrection?" With X-books as good as they right now, the potential for new, high quality stories on the small screen is endless.
Since the show's cancellation, several hugely popular arcs have happened within the world of the X-Men. "The Utopia" era, "Phoenix Endsong," and all of Astonishing X-Men are begging to be animated. Mutant cameos are always a fan favorite aspect of any X-Men media, and a new show would give showrunners the opportunity to bring some lesser-known characters thrown into the mix. Or, well-known characters like Kitty Pryde, who didn't make it into the original run.
Of course, nothing's set in stone as of yet, but an X-Men: The Animated Series revival could be the best thing to happen to the X-Men -- outside of the comics -- in a long time, as well as a great way to launch the series back into the fandom's good graces before its inevitable MCU inclusion.