REVIEW: ‘X-Men ’97’ Brings Back Marvel’s Mutants In A Sleek Revival

Marvel Studios' first major X-Men project is finally here!

X-Men 97 Marvel

Since Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, Marvel Cinematic Universe fans have been eager to see what Marvel Studios would do now that it has regained control of the X-Men franchise. So far, the rollout of the mutants has been a slow one with a formal X-Men reboot yet to be announced.

Instead, Marvel Studios has been slowly introducing the X-Men by revisiting the past. This was first done with Patrick Stewart’s appearance as Professor Xavier in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Deadpool and Wolverine is set to open Pandora’s box later this year. Marvel Studios also surprised everyone by reviving the beloved X-Men: The Animated Series with X-Men ’97, the first real taste of what the studio is capable of with the property.

Does X-Men ’97 Live Up To The Original?

The original animated series ended on a cliffhanger with the loss of Professor X, and X-Men ’97 picks up where it left off 26 years later. The original X-Men series was groundbreaking for its time, exploring adult themes and properly adapting the mutants in a visual medium. X-Men ’97 honors what has come before but also improves upon it.

The new and improved X-Men animated series features a necessary upgrade to its animation, combining both 2-D and 3-D imagery. This leads to visceral action beats expected with modern animation seen with other superhero shows such as Invincible. This is Marvel Studios’ second foray into animation after What If…?, yet X-Men ’97 uses its own style that makes the mutant team larger than life.

X-Men ’97 also does its best to appeal to both old and new fans. Although there is some heavy exposition at times, it gets those who might not have watched the original animated series on Disney Plus up to speed.

The new series begins with a common X-Men trope seen in the ’90s animated series and the films to re-introduce the superhero team to the audience. Once all the heavy lifting is done in the show’s premiere episode, it quickly finds its footing and embarks on a compelling narrative worthy of its predecessor.

X-Men ’97 also brings back several of the original series’ voice cast, a mandate Marvel head Kevin Feige demanded in addition to retaining the iconic theme. The voice performances are just as good as they were in the original animated series, with some noticeable differences given the time that has passed. I personally felt the most changes with Lenore Zann’s Rogue. Nonetheless, it’s a delight to hear the familiar X-Men voice cast with the updated animation on the screen.

Marvel Studios isn’t the unprecedented powerhouse it once was, now unable to produce the consistent hits audiences have to expect thanks to the Infinity Saga. The Disney Plus launch has allowed Marvel Studios to expand its grasp on entertainment with shows, animation and special presentations. The results have been mixed, with projects like Loki and Werewolf by Night setting themselves apart from the other lackluster content on the streamer.

X-Men ’97 aims to do something different from what Marvel Studios has done in the past by continuing a beloved series decades later. In some ways, it’s an even riskier endeavor, but the first three episodes of the revival show plenty of promise and even do things better with its slick animation and action.

X-Men ’97 wasn’t the first project fans expected to see from Marvel Studios following the Disney-Fox merger, yet it is a worthy one. Marvel Studios could use a rebound and X-Men ’97 could mark a first step towards that. For fans eagerly waiting for more X-Men content, the new animated series will satisfy in anticipation of what’s to come in live-action.

RATING: 8/10

X-Men ’97 streams on Wednesdays on Disney Plus. Stay tuned to Heroic Hollywood for the latest news on the X-Men and the Marvel Cinematic Universe!

Ryden Scarnato

Ryden Scarnato

Ryden's affection for all things DC, Marvel, and Star Wars has led him to entertainment journalism at Heroic Hollywood as a News Editor.