'X-Men '97': What to know about Marvel's new animated series

The show picks up where "X-Men: The Animated Series" left off.

The X-Men
A scene from X-Men '97. (Courtesy of Marvel Animation)

Marvel Studios is coming full circle with X-Men '97, a direct continuation of the beloved X-Men: The Animated Series, which premiered on Fox Kids in 1992. Both shows are based on the comic book series created by Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby in 1963.

The X-Men were originally written as a standard superhero team before later creators — including Chris Claremont and artists Dave Cockrum and John Byrne — ran with the idea of the mutant heroes as an oppressed minority who are hated and feared by the world that they protect.

Marvel’s X-Men comic books were bestsellers in the 1980s, before breaking sales records in the early '90s. But it wasn’t until X-Men: The Animated Series was a hit out of the gate that Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Rogue and the rest became widely known among the general public. Thanks to the success of the series, in 20th Century Fox greenlit the X-Men movie starring Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. Behind the scenes, a young Kevin Feige worked as an associate producer before eventually leading Marvel Studios and shepherding the MCU.

X-Men and its various sequels — in addition to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films — also helped pave the way for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to begin in earnest with 2008’s Iron Man. However, it took Disney’s purchase of Fox’s entertainment assets in 2019 to bring the X-Men under the control of Marvel Studios.

X-Men ‘97 also marks the first X-Men adaptation of any kind since 2019's Dark Phoenix, aside from characters' brief cameos in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and The Marvels.

Ahead of its two-episode premiere, here’s everything you need to know about the show.

Previously on X-Men ...

For five seasons, X-Men: The Animated Series chronicled the team’s attempt to create a better world for humans and mutants alike. However, things took a darker turn in 1997 with the series finale, “Graduation Day.” The team’s mentor and founder, Professor Charles Xavier, was publicly outed as a mutant and mortally wounded in an assassination attempt. This sent mutant and human relations off of a ledge, and led the X-Men’s frequent adversary — and one of Xavier’s closest friends — Magneto, to raise an army of mutants in order to attack their enemies.

The X-Men were able to convince Magneto to step back from that ledge and use his powers to help them send a message into deep space in order to reach Xavier’s lover, Empress Lilandra of the Shi’ar. Lilandra was able to save Xavier’s life, but he had to be taken into the permanent care of the Shi’ar, leaving the X-Men behind on Earth to carry on his legacy.

That’s why X-Men '97 will begin with a new status quo for the team that takes place after the X-Men series finale.

What’s happening in X-Men '97?

X-Men '97 takes a cue from the X-Men’s mid-’80s comic book adventures by having Magneto join forces with the team and attempt to follow in Xavier’s footsteps as a hero. But before Magneto can be redeemed, he may have to face trial for his crimes against humanity.

Mister Sinister is also slated to show up early in the first season with a nasty surprise for one of the show’s primary couples, Cyclops and Jean Grey. Beyond that, Bolivar Trask and his mutant-hunting Sentinels will return and there will be other classic villains, including the Hellfire Club’s Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw.

Fortunately, the X-Men have some additional backup in this show. After encountering the X-Men numerous times in the first series, the time traveler Bishop is staying in the present as a new member of the team. Morph — who infamously died in the two-part series premiere in 1992 before his eventual resurrection — is also back on the team.

Season 1 consists of 10 episodes, with the first two episodes out March 20. The following eight episodes will be released weekly on Wednesdays.

Who’s voicing the X-Men?

Many of the surviving members of the voice cast are returning for X-Men '97, with Cal Dodd as Wolverine; Lenore Zann as Rogue; George Buza as Beast; Alison Sealy-Smith as Storm; Adrian Hough as Nightcrawler and Christopher Britton as Mister Sinister.

Newcomers to the cast include Ray Chase as Cyclops, Jennifer Hale as Jean Grey, JP Karliak as Morph, AJ LoCascio as Gambit, Holly Chou as Jubilee, Isaac Robinson-Smith as Bishop, Matthew Waterson as Magneto, Gui Agustini as Sunspot, Gil Birmingham as Forge, and Ross Marquand as Professor Charles Xavier.

Theo James also has a mystery role on the show that has not yet been revealed.

Changes behind the scenes

Since X-Men '97 was announced in 2021, executive producer and head writer Beau DeMayo has been one of the most prominent advocates for the show, regularly offering fans updates about the series’ progress. DeMayo had previously written for Marvel’s Moon Knight series and also contributed to early drafts of the upcoming Blade reboot. That’s why it was shocking when Marvel terminated DeMayo earlier this month.

Beau DeMayo
Beau DeMayo at the San Diego Comic-Con 2022. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

DeMayo had been actively involved in promoting the series premiere of X-Men ‘97 and working on early plans for the future of the show when he was dismissed. Since then, DeMayo has deleted his Instagram account, skipped the L.A. world premiere of the series and declined to comment about his departure. Similarly, Marvel Studios has also refrained from addressing the topic of DeMayo’s exit.

Marvel Studio's head of streaming, TV and animation o told Variety that DeMayo "did excellent work" on the show.

"I can’t wait for fans to see the series,” Winderbaum said. “The entire team came together to create a revival worthy of the X-Men’s 60-year legacy. From Stan and Jack, to Claremont, to the Lewalds, we all truly were standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Will there be a Season 2 of X-Men '97?

Marvel confirmed the second season of X-Men '97 was in the works in 2022. During Comic-Con 2023, DeMayo told Marvel's official site that he was “writing the finale for Season 2.”

The question now is whether a third season will follow. Since DeMayo completed his work on the first two seasons, a new showrunner would have to be hired if Season 3 is picked up.

The first two episodes of X-Men '97 stream March 20 on Disney+.