X-Men ’97 Episode 1 Review

The anticipation for X-Men ’97 has been growing since the project was announced. For any 90s kids who worried that the show would not live up to their expectations, the very first episode goes a long way to quelling those fears. Far from being a nostalgic cash-in, X-Men ’97 quickly makes a case for its existence by combining the elements of what made the original X-Men animated series so great with a more grown-up vibe.

There is a lot to like in this premiere episode, titled “To Me, My X-Men”, and if it is any indication of where this revival is headed, then it seems that X-Men ’97 will be retaining not just the style of its predecessor, but also its deeper storytelling and character work. Even when it stumbles, the first episode of X-Men ’97 still shines.


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X-Men ’97 wastes no time, jumping right into a fight between the titular team and a faction of humans who have kidnapped a young mutant named Roberto (who will later take on the name Sunspot). These antagonists have also gotten their hands on sentinel technology, and they plan to carry on the mission of wiping out mutantkind. The action here is suitably exciting, and the mutants manage to prevail and bring Roberto back to Xavier Mansion. Roberto acts as something of an audience surrogate, allowing the show to introduce characters and concepts like the danger room to those who may not be as savvy about X-Men lore. For now, Roberto isn’t really much more than a plot device, but his burgeoning relationship with Jubilee and the hint at his powers seem to promise a deeper storyline for him in future episodes.

There is also a decent amount of background info delivered in the first third of the episode to get everyone caught up. Considering that this story is supposed to be taking place not long after the original series ended, there’s a lot of reminding to do about where the team is now and why one of the most iconic characters of the series is not present. The ending of the original X-Men animated series saw an emotional farewell between Charles Xavier and the team. Here, it is heavily implied that Xavier is dead, but elements like a death certificate and discussions about the professor being gone could be misdirects that are setting up a triumphant return for the team’s leader.

A generous amount of table-setting takes place in this episode, but luckily the story moves along at a speedy pace and doesn’t slow down too much. Episode one also maintains the most important themes of X-Men stories, with human characters hitting the team with dehumanizing language and hatred that is all too reflective of attitudes in the real world.

X-Men ’97 has been given the tall order of headlining the new Marvel Animation banner (which plays at the beginning of the episode and includes images from the 1960s Spider-Man and the more recent What If…?). As far as the animation is concerned, it oscillates between kinetic and exciting and charmingly stiff. Luckily, the animators saved the best work for the action sequences, which are appropriately exciting and creative. Fans will likely get a kick out of seeing the use of Kirby Krackle in some key scenes. In particular, a sequence when Jean Grey uses Cerebro gets surprisingly dark and nightmarish, hinting at a greater enemy for the X-Men just behind the scenes.

x-men team on basketball court in x-men 97 episode 1 Cropped

Fans of the 90s series will also be excited to hear plenty of the original voice cast reprising their roles. That includes George Buza as Beast, Alison Sealy-Smith as Storm, Cal Dodd as Wolverine, and Lenore Zann as Rogue. For the most part, the original cast members hold up well, although Dodd’s Wolverine doesn’t quite have the same energy as he did back in the 90s. Still, he is appropriately gruff, even if he wears the years on his vocal performance. In terms of new cast members, Ray Chase and Jennifer Hale have taken over the roles of Cyclops and Jean Grey, respectively, while AJ Locascio now plays Gambit, JP Karliak plays Morph, and Holly Chou plays Jubilee.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but there is a clear difference in performance when a project utilizes trained voice actors in place of A-list stars. Each character feels unique, vibrant, and lived-in. Newcomer Ray Chase’s take on Cyclops is appropriately square, while seasoned veteran George Buza’s Beast is still an eloquent intellectual.

One of the main highlights of the show, and one that should warm fans’ hearts, is the music. The Newton Brothers, who have worked on every Mike Flanagan project, have recreated the feeling of watching these characters on a Saturday morning and getting hyped up to see the team taking on a group of Sentinels. Right from the opening titles (which remain largely unchanged, though with a few updates), it’s clear that the creative team led by the recently fired Beau DeMayo have done their best to stay true to the original series in every facet.

From just this first half hour, which concludes with the gut punch of Magneto being named the new leader of the X-Men by Charles Xavier himself, it’s clear that X-Men ’97 could become a new fan favorite. While Marvel Studios has struggled with its live-action content over the last few years, it’s become clear that animation is still a thriving medium for superhero stories. There is likely more exciting storytelling to come from this series.

X-Men ’97 is available to watch on Disney Plus.

x-men '97 teaser poster disney plus

X-Men ’97

The animated X-Men team returns in the Disney Plus reboot, X-Men ’97. With Professor X gone, Cyclops, Wolverine, Jean Grey, and the rest of the mutants find themselves under the leadership of Magneto and facing a new threat. X-Men ’97 is the first project under the newly created Marvel Animation banner.

Release Date
March 20, 2024

Jennifer Hale , Ray Chase , Cal Dodd , Lenore Zann , George Buza


Marvel Animation

Beau DeMayo

Number of Episodes

Streaming Service(s)
Disney Plus