Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have long awaited the arrival of the X-Men. In fact, at one point, it was a pipe dream—a near impossibility. But then Disney went and purchased Fox. Entire worlds opened up, and the storytelling potential for the MCU was hard to comprehend. But when would audiences worldwide get to see the first mutant project? Little did everyone know how Marvel Studios would pull a fast one and revive X-Men: The Animated Series as its first official project concerning the Mutants.
The show is a revival of the fan-favorite 90s cartoon that concluded all the way back in 1997. Now titled X-Men '97, the animated project is expected to premiere on Disney+ in mid-2023 and will consist of about ten episodes in its first season.
With it being a revival, one has to ask: how similar will it be to the original? It's now been 25 years since — storytelling in all mediums has made quite an advancement, so what will X-Men '97 even look like?
Thankfully, the head writer for the project sat down with The Direct and talked about what he hopes to retain from the original, and how he aims to evolve the material in today's age.
Will X-Men '97 Be Similar to the '90s Show?
In an exclusive interview, The Direct's Russ Milheim got to sit down with Beau DeMayo, the head writer of the upcoming X-Men '97 animated Marvel Studios project, to discuss how the revival will differ from its original.
Before addressing what may be different, DeMayo made it clear what he hopes to keep intact. He says that "there is such an earnestness to all of the characters... [everyone's] emotions are on full display," an aspect of the series he aims to maintain as the core of the show:
“For me, it made sense once I met [Julia and Eric] Lewald and Larry Houston, who were the creators and directors of the original series, who are literally the best people you could possibly imagine, is they are so earnest and sincere as people. When you watch the series, I think what we remember about, is that there is such an earnestness to all of the characters. Everyone’s emotions are on full display. Everyone is sincere, and it is just—when you meet the Lewalds, and Larry, it’s just like, ‘oh, I totally get it.’
Doing that is no easy task, with DeMayo explaining that "the challenge to me was honoring that earnestness... [and] emotional sincerity" that the original series presented through its character relationships. According to DeMayo, this storytelling approach was the show's "secret sauce" that he hopes to replicate with X-Men '97:
"And so I think the challenge to me was honoring that earnestness, that emotional sincerity in the show where it wasn’t just about the big bad of the day. That was almost, in some cases, an afterthought. It was really about the relationship of this found family, and how they cared about each other and had disagreements. And I always just come back whenever we’re talking in the writer’s room, or we’re talking to the directors, it’s just like, we have to have earnest emotion in every scene. Cause I really do think that was the secret sauce to the original series.”
When asked how X-Men '97 may improve upon or differ from the original series, DeMayo noted that "the world is a very different place than when that show was first made" in the 1990s. X-Men stories often reflect real-world social issues, dealing with themes like race and diversity, and DeMayo's comments indicate that X-Men '97 will now offer a reflection of modern society in the 2020s instead of how it was in the '90s:
“I don’t know if improve would be a word I would use. I think that show is amazing in so many different ways. I think what I would say is that the generation who grew up watching that show, we have grown up, and the world is a very different place than when that show was first made. And so, it is more a question of, what does that show look like knowing what we know now? And how it looks like, in today's world, with everything that has changed, and everything that hasn’t changed, sadly—in our world. That is where I believe my focus has been as a storyteller, has really been that.”
Marvel Studios' Evolving X-Men
For those who have watched the original X-Men, it should be immediately clear in regard to what DeMayo is referencing when it comes to the writings' earnestness— especially when it comes to each character making their emotions clear. There's undoubtedly an air to the proceedings that truly represent 90s cartoons.
He appears to be quite passionate about the project, so any fans worrying about how it may end up can probably stop worrying. According to the show's original creators, Marvel Studios is aiming to have all ten episodes of X-Men '97 out by mid-2023. Hopefully, they'll live up to the hype, which is admittedly substantial.
For those having trouble waiting for any new Marvel X-Men content, there's good news: it seems audiences may only have to wait roughly a week before getting their eyes on one within the MCU. Given the trailers for Doctor Strange 2, which hits theaters on May 6, Patrick Stewart will be making his appearance—and it certainly seems like he'll be playing some Variant of Professor X.
But will the word mutant be said on screen? Fans will have to wait to find out.