Dead Television Marvel Month 2: X-Men Evolution


Sorry for the delay!

After the success of the first X-Men movie, Marvel had the idea of making a new cartoon: X-Men Evolution. The show ran from Nov. 4th 2000 to October 25th 2003 on Kids’ WB.

I’ve already explained their origin, so we’ll skip it. The show was something of a reimagining, changing most of the established mythology, such as most of the X-Men (save for Prof. X, Storm, Wolverine, (and later) Beast) and Brotherhood (Magneto and Mystique) being portrayed as teenagers (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Shadowcat, Nightcrawler, and Spyke) rather than adults. the first season, sets up the characters and plot lines for most of the series and future storylines. each and often every other episode would introduce a new character who would either join the X-Men or the Brotherhood (Quicksilver, Avalanche, Toad, and Blob), the most notable is Evolution’s version of Rogue, who initially joins the Brotherhood in the fourth episode (her second appearance). Later episodes, reveal that Nightcrawler learns that Mystique is his birth mother, Wolverine starts piecing together his past, Rogue joins the X-Men, and Prof. X’s half-brother Cain Marko (Juggernaut) is released from prison.

By the end of the season, The Brotherhood (led by Mystique) are being lead by a higher power, Magneto. Cyclops also learns that his brother Alex actually survived a plane crash that killed both of their parents. They’re both captured by Magneto (Quicksilver’s father), along with the other X-Men to Asteroid M, to be experimented on to increase their powers and remove all of their emotions. The X-Men and The Brotherhood escape the asteroid, leaving Magneto and Mystique trapped as Cyclops and Alex destroy the asteroid. Alex and Cyclops escape, as does Magneto, Sabretooth and Mystique (with Sabretooth and Mystique getting new looks).

In the Second Season, new mutants including Beast (who started off as the X-Men’s high school gym/science teacher until he mutated), Icelad, Multiple Boy, Sunspot, Magma, Boom Boom, Jubilee, etc. As the season progresses the X-Men learn that leaders of the Brotherhood survived the destruction of Asteroid M. Sabretooth continues to hunt down Wolverine, Magneto works on his plans for mutant supremacy, and Mystique poses as a goth girl who befriends Rogue in school and breaks into the mansion, hacks into Cerebro, and tracks down a mentally unstable mutant named Wanda Maximov (Scarlet Witch), Quicksilver’s sister. Near the end of the season the telepath, Mesmero opens one of the three doors to free a powerful mutant En Sabah Nur (Apocalypse).

In the season finale, Prof. X starts an alliance with the brotherhood, this upsets Cyclops who up and leaves the team. The mansion is set to self-destructwith Cyclops and the others inside. Magneto recruits Sabretooth, Pyro, Gambit, and Colossus to join his Acolytes to fight X-Men/Brotherhood. Meanwhile  Wolverine is captured by Bolivar Trask as a test subject for an anti-mutant weapon known as the Sentinel. Magneto, continues to manipulates events by unleashing the Sentinel onto the city, forcing the X-Men to use their powers in public. Wanda tracks down Magneto and attacks him while he is trying to deal with the Sentinel that is targeting him. The Sentinel is damaged and (presumably) crushes Magneto as it falls. When the mutants who have not been captured by the Sentinel return to the remains of the mansion, Cyclops and the students emerge from the explosion with minor injuries. Cyclops throws Xavier from his wheelchair and blames him for blowing up the mansion. Everyone is shocked as Xavier calmly stands up, transforming into Mystique.

In the Third and Fourth Seasons, the show notably begins to take a much more serious tone. After the battle with the Sentinel, the mutants are no longer a secret and public reaction is one of hostility. The show is brought into more traditional X-Men lore, dealing with themes of prejudice, public misconception, and larger threats. As the season progresses, the real Xavier is found, Mystique is defeated, the mansion is rebuilt, and the X-Men allowed back into Bayville High. Wanda continues to search for Magneto, who she discovers was saved by Quicksilver at the last second, until Magneto help from another telepathic mutant Mastermind to change her childhood memories. Scott and Jean develop a stronger and closer romantic relationship, and Spyke leaves the X-Men when his mutant ability becomes uncontrollable, deciding to live with the sewer-dwelling mutants known as the Morlocks. Rogue loses control of her powers, leading to her hospitalization. During this time, she learns she was the adoptive daughter of Mystique. Mystique, through the visions of the mutant Destiny, foresaw that the fate of Rogue and herself lay in the hands of an ancient mutant that would be resurrected. Apocalypse emerges in the season’s final episodes. Mesmero manipulates Magneto into opening the second door, and uses Mystique and a hypnotized Rogue to open the last, turning Mystique to stone in the process. Now released, Apocalypse easily defeats the combined strength of the X-Men, Magneto, the Acolytes, and the Brotherhood before escaping.

In the final nine episodes, Apocalypse apparently kills Magneto while Rogue murders Mystique by pushing her petrified figure off a cliff, leaving Nightcrawler without closure. The Brotherhood become temporary do-gooders, Wolverine’s teenage girl clone X-23 returns, Spyke and the Morlocks rise to the surface, Shadowcat discovers a mutant ghost who is found in an underground cave, Rogue is kidnapped by Gambit and taken to Louisiana to help free his father, and Xavier travels to Scotland to confront his son Lucas. In the finale, Apocalypse defeats Xavier and Storm, transforming them, along with Magneto and Mystique, into his Four Horsemen. Apocalypse instructs his Horsemen to protect his three domes and his ‘base of operations’, which will turn the entire world population into mutants. In the final battle, the Horsemen are returned to normal and Apocalypse is sent through time. Rogue and Nightcrawler refuse the excuses of their mother, Shadowcat and Avalanche find love once again, Magneto is reunited with Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, Storm and Spyke are also reunited, and Xavier sees his students reunited as the X-Men.

In the last moment of the series, Prof. X gives an amazing speech, about the team’s great work back in Egypt, and tells everyone about the future and what would have happened had the show returned for a fifth season:

There are still anti-mutant movements, and the schools Principal Edward Kelly runs for city mayor.

Magneto joins the X-Men and becomes an instructor at the school

Jean becomes Phoenix

The Brotherhood joins S.H.I.E.L.D.

A Sentinel invasion lead by a Sentinel-type robot called Nimrod

A grown-up X-23 joins the (also) grown-up X-Men

And the final scene is the picture you saw the second you logged in to see this post, a beautiful shot of all the X-Men and their allies gathered around for a sign off to the viewers.

When the show first came out, I like most people didn’t really care for the series. Most people didn’t like the show because it wasn’t as good as the 90’s cartoon, I didn’t like it because I briefly grew out of X-Men at the time, though I did still watched the reruns of the 90’s series on Fox. It wasn’t until Disney X.D. aired reruns of the show back in 2009, that I started to enjoy and appreciate the series. The idea of the X-Men being portrayed as teenagers, at first, I didn’t care about it (another thing me and the fanbase didn’t care for) but it eventually grew on me. The first season and most of the second season was kinda meh for me, but as the series progressed, I started to get more invested with the show’ s storyline. Especial during the Apocalypse arc.

The show was also responsible for the creation of the character X-23, a Lady Deathstrike-esque character who has the same origins as wolverine, and Spyke, Storm’s nephew, who can produce bone-like spikes from his body. He was never seen outside of the show, though there was a character in X-Men Days Of Future Past who was kind of similar to Spyke.

While X-Men Evolution is not the best cartoon ever made in the New Millennium, it is still a good watch, and I recommend it. The first three seasons are available on DVD (with the first two being released in three volumes), at the time of this post, The fourth season was not released yet. All four seasons are available for stream on Youtube, Google Play, and Netflix (US Only). The series can also be downloaded (in standard definition) via iTunes (also US only).

Next week, MTV’s take on the wall-crawler, it’s going to be legen…. Wait for it…

RANK: 4 out of 5


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