X-Men '97 Episode 1

X-Men ’97 Episode 1: To Me, My X-Men [Spoiler Free Review]

The X-Men have always been a core part of who I am.

From spending every Saturday afternoon watching X-Men: The Animated Series and collecting silver, bronze and modern age X-Men comics, to then immersing myself in the live action films and other animated projects, such as X-Men Evolution and Wolverine and the X-Men, you could say I was hooked.

X-Men '97 Episode 1
I was so obsessed that I even wrote numerous fan-fiction stories. In fact, my love for the X-Men, specifically that of Cyclops and Jean Grey, runs so deep that I spent most of my first paycheck buying premium format character statues to adorn my future home with.

So when X-Men ‘97 was first announced, I nearly cried of pure, undulated joy. My all time favourites were back, and in a way that stayed true to the very essence of the X-men that I grew up loving.

Thanks to Marvel and Disney, I was able to watch the first three episodes of X-Men ‘97 ahead of its release and I was simply blown away.

Read on for my review of the first episode in the series. 

The X-Men make a triumphant return to the screen with X-Men ‘97. The first episode, “To Me, My X-Men,” serves as both a nostalgic homage to its iconic predecessor and a fresh start for the beloved mutant team.

As the spiritual sequel to the acclaimed X-Men: The Animated Series from the 90s, this revival series effortlessly captures the essence of the 90s series while introducing new elements that promise an exciting journey for fans old and new.

The animation style retains the timeless appeal of classic comic book aesthetics while incorporating modern touches, such as enhanced cel shading and detailed character designs. The result is a visually stunning experience that pays homage to both the comic book and animated series source material while feeling fresh and vibrant.

From the opening moments, it’s clear that X-Men ’97 is a labour of love for both the creators and the audience.

One of the episode’s standout features is its seamless continuation of the original series. Returning viewers, like me, will feel a rush of nostalgia as they reunite with familiar faces and settings, while newcomers are welcomed into the fold with engaging storytelling and dynamic character introductions. 

Fans of X-Men: The Animated Series will be pleased to see the return of the same characters that made up the 1990s X-Men team, including Morph, a character who was dealt a rough hand throughout the five seasons of X-Men: The Animated Series. Thankfully, he’s since overcome the trauma that had been haunting him.

The decision to pick up where the original series left off, that is, after the death of Professor Charles Xavier in season 5’s “Graduation Day” allows X-Men ’97 to build upon the rich history of its predecessor while exploring new territory.

Central to the episode’s narrative is the introduction of Roberto Da Costa, a.k.a Sunspot, a compelling new addition to the series roster. Sunspot’s journey of self-discovery and his hesitancy towards accepting himself as a mutant adds depth to the ensemble cast, providing a fresh perspective on the challenges faced by those who are deemed to be different. His reluctance to embrace his powers and reveal his mutant identity to his parents serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggle for acceptance in a world that fears and misunderstands mutants.

X-Men '97 Episode 1

Alongside Sunspot’s introduction, “To Me, My X-Men” also features interesting character redesigns that breathe new life into fan favourites. An example of this is Storm’s badass new hairstyle and Jubilee’s Asian features. These subtle changes in their character design and animation style add layers of personality to each character, such as Storm’s more commanding presence and Jubilee’s experience being from a minority background, which allows her to better connect with Sunspot. 

These visual updates not only pay homage to the original series but also set the stage for future adventures in the revamped X-Men universe.

X-Men '97 Episode 1

In addition to its visual appeal, X-Men ’97 excels in its character-driven storytelling and dynamic action sequences. Cyclops emerges as a central figure in the episode, showcasing both his formidable leadership skills and a sense of humour that has been lacking in other adaptations and depictions of the character. His banter with Wolverine and his commanding presence in battle highlight his evolution as a character while staying true to his iconic portrayal in the original series.

X-Men '97 Episode 1

Speaking of Wolverine, his return is met with the same mix of gruffness and charm that fans have come to expect. His interactions with Cyclops and the rest of the team provide moments of levity amidst the episode’s intense action sequences, serving as a reminder of the dynamic that have made the character a fan favourite for decades.

Perhaps one of the most memorable moments in “To Me, My X-Men” is the climactic showdown between the X-Men and a horde of reactivated Sentinels. Cyclops’ leadership shines as he rallies the team into action, with Storm unleashing a literal storm upon their mechanical adversaries. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the goosebumps I had when Cyclops instructed Storm to “give them the forecast”.

The seamless teamwork and stunning visuals of this sequence serve as a testament to the X-Men’s strength and unity in the face of adversity.

One of my favourite moments of the episode has to be the way Cyclops strategically uses his optic blasts to not only knock out enemies but also manoeuvre himself around a room at a quick pace. It’s not lost on me how powerful of a character he truly is, which again, seems to have been lost in the film adaptations. This is especially evident upon using his optic blasts to land safely after jumping off the Blackbird plane before saying the soon to be iconic line “To me, my X-Men”. 

Most of you are probably wondering, what about Rogue, Gambit, Beast and Jean Grey? Never fear, this first episode aptly provides them key moments of their own. As a Cyclops and Jean Grey fan, this moment for me was the moment a pregnant Jean suggests to her husband that it’s time to leave the team and live a quiet life while raising their soon to be born son.

Of course, Gambit and Rogue fans will love the dynamic between the couple, with the Cajun’s charm being as strong as ever.

Beyond its action-packed moments, X-Men ’97 also explores deeper themes of identity, belonging, and legacy. The mystery surrounding Professor Xavier’s decision to entrust his legacy to Magneto raises intriguing questions about the future of the X-Men and the ongoing struggle for mutant rights. It’s a tantalising cliffhanger that leaves viewers eagerly anticipating the next chapter in the series.

In conclusion, X-Men ’97 bursts onto the screen with a thrilling first episode that honours the legacy of its predecessor while blazing a bold new path forward. With its captivating animation, compelling characters, and engaging storytelling, the series promises to be an exciting journey for fans of all ages. 

Whether you’re a longtime X-Men aficionado or a newcomer to the mutant universe, “To Me, My X-Men” sets the stage for an epic revival that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.


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