Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Austin, TX
Re: Rumoured New X Men Cartoon
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
For all of its off-model animation, frequently overdone and unintentionally hilarious vocal work and occasionally bad characterization and writing, the X-Men animated series from the 90s remains the definitive televised incarnation of the beloved comic characters. Wolverine and the X-Men tries valiantly to recapture the magic of that series, and nearly succeeds. Its failures are fairly routine for any of the non-comic incarnations of these characters, but at least this thing has ambition and plays off some of the lingering mysteries at the core of the series.
Whatís a major pity is that weíll never be treated to a second season of this show, which had a tremendous amount of potential to expand and really go into darker and dramatically interesting places. And the whole thing starts off with a big bang. As Wolverine, who became the de facto X-related mascot after the animated series proved so popular and was cemented by the filmís insistence on centering on him, strolls through the mansion, a large explosion occurs taking out Jean Grey and Professor X. She appears to be dead for much of the time, and Xaiver is, somehow, in a coma, which he awakens from in an alternate dystopian future which owes a debt to the ďDays of Future PastĒ storyline, amongst a few others.
Of course any movie or television series based upon so sprawling and labyrinthine a mythology as X-Men will need to condense, edit and re-contextualize the whole thing for the new medium and the story they want to focus on. Marvel demanded a product to align with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and itís astonishing that this didnít turn out as clumsy or truly awful as the first season and a half of X-Men: Evolution.
Borrowing liberally from any/all eras, the show presents us with familiar character developments, back-stories and story lines that feel like Cliffís Notes X-Men by this point: Cyclops/Wolverine rivalry and respect, Storm vs Shadow King, Magneto as misunderstood leader, Senator Kelly and his xenophobic political scheming, Emma Frostís roguish ally, Jean Grey and the Phoenix Ė each of these stories come up at some point in time, and theyíre well known and well-worn by any fan of the material.
So the show doesnít break any new ground with these stories, and the Phoenix force stuff is heavily rushed at the end of the season, but at least it provides a chance to see newer characters and stories get a chance to shine. The Stepford Cuckoos, Dust, the ďAge of Apocalypse,Ē amongst many other things too numerous to mention, get cameos, are hinted at for future exploration or get entire episodes dedicated to them. Itís a nice mix of the old and the new.
However, the series does continue the same problem of focusing too much on Wolverine, who works best as a supporting player, and giving short shift to other equally important and popular characters. Namely, Cyclops and Storm, who frequently appear in episodes, but donít do much. They get one or two episodes to really standout, but are otherwise taken out of the action very quickly (which is out of character for both of them), or donít appear for several episodes at a time. Itís disheartening to witness, but seeing Beast, Nightcrawler, Angel and Emma Frost being given a chance in the spotlight is quite lovely. Often they get stuck in smaller supporting roles despite being major players in the books.
But I suppose concessions must be made in any format that isnít a comic. There simply isnít enough room to include all of these characters in a satisfying way and develop them all. Someoneís favorite is going to get the shaft. (And much like the movies, itís mine. Why is it so hard for people to get Storm right?)
Wolverine and the X-Men could have benefited from borrowing more liberally from the 90s cartoons it so clearly tries to imitate. X-Men and Batman: The Animated Series werenít afraid to feature episodes that were quiet and hardly had any action in them, choosing instead to buildup characters and create more realistic drama. Wolverine should have done the same. We didnít need an episode with Nick Fury, Wendigo and a prolonged battle between Wolverine and the Hulk. It doesnít factor much into the season as a whole, feeling instead like a piece of filler to hit the 20+ episode marker it needed for a complete season order.
Itís always a fun time, but it could have saved some of the stories and characters for future seasons, choosing instead to buff up the development and play out a few stories in a more organic and satisfying way. Phoenix and ďAge of ApocalypseĒ are great things to cover, but not in the final three episodes of your season. Granted, AoA was a teaser, and I would have loved to have seen that one play out. Itís clear that the creators have a deep love and respect for the material, but they didnít need to stuff everything into one season. After all, all of this ambition, energy and fun could have lasted this show for years. Itís not their fault it was cancelled, blame the network brass and financing issues.
It's long, so don't give me the whole TL;DR ********. I warned all of you!
Here I go, falling down, down, down,
My mind is a blank,
My head is spinning around and around,
As I go deep into the funnel of love
Liz Lemon is my spirit animal