10 X-Men Characters Who Can Become Apocalypse’s New Horsemen

Custom image of Gambit smiling on a backdrop of Apocalypse holding his playing card in X-Men '97

Apocalypse’s shock return at the end of X-Men ’97 Season 1 means a new lineup of Marvel characters as Horsemen is all but guaranteed. It is still unclear when X-Men ’97 Season 2 will be released, but the incredible response to Season 1 has left fans clamoring for more as soon as possible. This is a good sign for Marvel, whose reacquisition of the X-Men franchise has been met with trepidatious excitement that has now turned into intense confidence in Marvel’s ability. Now, it seems, concerns over the live-action X-Men of the MCU can be (mostly) put aside.

The X-Men ’97 finale was the perfect end to an extremely well-received series, tying up every narrative thread while providing a significant tease for the next season. The finale did not revive the characters lost in the cataclysmic massacre on Genosha but reintroduced a longstanding character that has the power to do so: Apocalypse. This arrival brings with it one big question, however, concerning who will appear alongside him as his four Horsemen. With that in mind, here are the prime candidates.

10. Gambit Is The Safest Bet

The Horseman Of Death

Gambit fighting a Sentinel in X-Men '97 episode 5

To get the obvious out of the way, the mid-credits scene featuring Apocalypse holding one of Gambit’s playing cards can really only signify one thing. Since Gambit’s heroic sacrifice at the end of X-Men ’97 Episode 5, his return through typical superhero possibilities has been a hot topic that Season 1 did not bring to fruition. This is seemingly because it will now fall to Apocalypse to achieve what Cable’s time-traveling could not, though Gambit’s resurrection will not be a cause for celebration.

Gambit has a brief history of being Apocalypse’s Horseman of Death in Marvel Comics, which was a role he undertook while alive. It feels more befitting of the Horseman of Death to have been resurrected from death, however, especially as Gambit took on a ghostly visage (white hair and pitch-black skin) in his new, villainous guise. Xavier’s vision while with the Shi’ar, meanwhile, offered a further hint at Gambit’s fate after depicting him as a walking skeleton with eyes wide open – though this was ostensibly meant to signify his death at the time.

9. Wolverine Is In Need Of Adamantium

The Horseman Of Death

Magneto Rips Adamantium From Wolverine in X-Men '97 Episode 9

While he is not dead yet (and is unlikely to be), Wolverine is currently out of commission with a skeleton that does not contain any adamantium. The scene that took it was a perfect recreation of a panel from Marvel Comics, which gives a clue as to what Wolverine’s X-Men ’97 future might hold. In Marvel Comics, an adamantium-deprived Wolverine became Apocalypse’s Horseman of Death after being given a choice: take up the mantle or relinquish the role to Sabertooth. After winning the title, Apocalypse transferred the adamantium from Sabertooth’s skeleton to Wolverine’s.

In the current context of X-Men ’97, this poses a problem of availability. Should the series decide to adapt the comics faithfully, then Wolverine appears to be more likely to take on the mantle of Death than Gambit. Yet the mid-credits scene has all but sealed that fate for a currently deceased Gambit. Given the show has a track record of taking creative liberties, a third, more compelling option is available: for Gambit and Wolverine to take different mantles. It goes without saying that pitting two of the team’s most beloved members against their former teammates would be incredibly compelling.

8. Banshee Also Died In Genosha

The Horseman Of Death

Banshee and Pixie in X-men 97 flying in smart clothes

Banshee didn’t have much of a role in X-Men ’97 Season 1, but this could easily change in Season 2. In the comics, Banshee has recently been resurrected to become one of the four Horsemen of Death. This is a precedent that not only suggests that resurrection into the role of Death is possible, but that the role can be shared – specifically, by Gambit, Wolverine, Banshee, and one other character.

Horseman of Death Banshee appears alongside Daken, Wolverine’s son, in the Marvel Comics lineup, making his appearance alongside Wolverine in X-Men ’97 easier to envisage.

In Marvel Comics, Banshee’s ascension to the role of Horseman of Death was orchestrated by the Apocalypse Twins, Apocalypse’s children. This does not seem to be where the series is headed in Season 2, given that Apocalypse himself stood in the wreckage of Genosha. But X-Men ’97 has proven that to be fairly fluid with how it adapts certain story beats from the comics, and his proximity to a dead Banshee is hard to ignore.

7. Hulk Could Help Spawn A New Animated Universe

The Horseman Of War

Morph impersonating the Hulk fighting Sentinels in X-Men '97

Ever since X-Men ’97 featured cameos of other Marvel characters, speculation has been ramping up about the possible revival of other animated shows and a shared animated universe. The success of X-Men ’97 makes this prospect all the more likely as the idea of expanding horizons looks more appealing. So far, Hulk has only “appeared” in X-Men ’97 as one of Morph’s many transformations – but one particularly compelling way that Marvel could debut the Jade Giant within this animated universe is by turning him into Apocalypse’s Horseman of War.

Horseman of War Hulk carries the notable distinction of being one of the only non-mutant Horsemen in Marvel Comics.

It’s no secret that Hulk has been done dirty in the MCU, but the extent to which he has been nerfed can be rectified significantly in the guise of Horseman of War. This is Hulk at his most powerful and would be the perfect bridge to reintroducing his own solo series in a post-Season 2 landscape. As he did not make a cameo outside of Morph’s transformation in Season 1, Apocalypse’s X-Men ’97 debut could coincide with Hulk’s, offering a reason for his absence.

6. Madelyne Pryor Deserves A Little More Screen Time

Madelyne Pryor Was Not A Horseman In Marvel Comics

Madelyne Pryor and Cable look at each other in X-Men '97

Madelyne Pryor’s tenure was short and sweet, starring in one of X-Men ’97‘s best episodes before the pivotal Episode 5 saw her die in the Genoshan massacre. Though she did get to bid a heartfelt hello and goodbye to her son, Cable, Pryor’s status as Cable’s biological mother feels unjustly ephemeral now that Cable has seemingly replaced her with Jean already. Apocalypse, who is currently standing in the rubble of the attack, could provide a solution.

Madelyne was far from the X-Men’s biggest challenge in X-Men ’97, but she was still a particularly memorable villain. A Pryor empowered by Apocalypse is another story, as they would no doubt be amplified to a significant degree. Jean Grey has already demonstrated what the Phoenix Force can achieve when combined with her power set, so an amped-up Pryor has the potential to be just as formidable while extending her X-Men ’97 story. With no such precedent set in the comics, this could also comprise a compellingly original plot.

5. Mr. Sinister Is Feeling Desperate

Mr. Sinister Was One Of Apocalypse’s First Horsemen

Mister Sinister being stripped of his powers in X-Men '97 episode 10

After the events of the X-Men ’97 finale, Mr. Sinister is not dead – but he may as well be. A Phoenix Force-empowered Jean Grey was able to deprive Sinister of the mutant genes he has thus far empowered himself with, turning him into a husk of his former self. This puts Sinister in a notable position as someone in dire need of an upgrade – something Apocalypse is primed to provide.

Sinister has a history with Apocalypse in Marvel Comics which spans various universes, but he has experience as one of the villain’s most powerful horsemen. Having Sinister fight alongside the likes of Gambit and/or Wolverine would flip the script on their relationship thus far, hammering home the impact of Apocalypse’s appearance. Besides that, Sinister is a firm fan favorite, so bringing him back in a more powerful guise would likely land well among fans.

4. Bastion’s Fate Is Unclear

Bastion Was One Of Apocalypse’s First Horsemen

Bastion with his face flayed, half robotic, half human in X-Men '97 season 1 episode 10

The end of X-Men ’97 Season 1 ostensibly saw Bastion die in a huge explosion. It would be remiss to assume that this is the end of the arch-villain, however, as his durability likely exceeds that of the meteor that the same explosion failed to destroy. Bastion has also enjoyed an off-the-page stint as one of Apocalypse’s Horsemen in Marvel Comics, making the latter villain’s arrival so soon after Bastion’s defeat conspicuously well-timed.

While bringing Bastion back so soon after his stint as arch-villain of Season 1 may seem a little premature, it would go a long way to ramping up the threat level of Apocalypse by reducing Bastion to the status of minion. Bastion being responsible for Gambit’s death would make for an interesting dynamic should the two become teammates under Apocalypse’s purview. Furthermore, Bastion’s final moments saw Cyclops attempting to recruit him to the side of the X-Men, which would intensify the sting of him embracing his mutant status on the side of an opposing team.

3. Apocalypse Could Cause Chaos With Cable

The Horseman Of War

Cable shooting at the Prime Sentinels in X-Men '97 season 1 Ep 9

X-Men ’97 Season 1 saw significant developments in Cable’s story, culminating in some touching moments between him and his parents. The emotional heft of having him unwittingly turn against his family was briefly conveyed as Sinister took control of his mind, resulting in a seemingly fatal attack on Jean Grey before the death would be undone one episode later. With the finale depicting Jean and Scott coming across young Cable in the future, it looks like his involvement in the X-Men ’97 narrative still has a way to go.

This could be compounded by having Cable adopt the mantle of Horseman of War in the original timeline. Cable has had a brief stint in this guise in Marvel Comics in an alternate universe visited by Deadpool, but Cable’s vast power levels in this appearance indicate just how much of a problem an Apocalypse-empowered Cable could pose to the X-Men in X-Men ’97Having Cable embody this role in the present would also provide an interesting juxtaposition as Scott and Jean interact with a young Cable in the distant future.

2. Deathbird Has Already Rallied Against Xavier

The Horseman Of War

Deathbird smiles menacingly in X-Men '97

Deathbird featured in one episode of X-Men ’97, namely “Lifedeath – Part 2,” in which Xavier was revealed to be alive and well on the Shi’ar home world. In this episode, Deathbird rallies against Xavier’s Terran heritage as he is poised to marry her sister, Empress Lilandra. It is here that Deathbird is established as a powerful and decidedly antagonistic figure, though her involvement was frustratingly fleeting as Xavier resolved to leave his new life to aid his X-Men back on Earth.

The Shi’ar’s villainous streak could, therefore, continue (and ramp up significantly) should she find herself in the path of Apocalypse. Her tenure as the Horseman of War in Marvel Comics is a fitting role for the warlike character who was last seen effortlessly subjugating Kree soldiers alongside the Imperial Guard. While she is currently worlds away from the X-Men, her beef with Xavier makes her a fitting recruit for Apocalypse to seek out.

1. Archangel Is “Missing Presumed Dead”

The Horseman Of Death

Morph impersonating Archangel in X-Men '97

Archangel is something of a mainstay in Apocalypse’s Horsemen lineup as his Angel of Death. It would be no surprise, therefore, to see Archangel appear in X-Men ’97 Season 2 in this guise, potentially as an already-established member of his villainous lineup. The season finale already hinted at this state of affairs, as the scene with Forge surveying a wall of X-Men and their current status lists Warren Worthington III as “Missing presumed dead” in the wake of the Genoshan massacre, where he was last seen.

Should Archangel appear as a Horseman in Season 2, it would be the second time he has appeared at Apocalypse’s side in the animated series’ canon.

As a narrative trope, this means it is safe to assume that Angel is alive, just unaccounted for. Angel did not make a significant appearance in Season 1, so the narrative heft of having him turn against his teammates is somewhat diminished. With that being said, Angel’s X-Men ’97 future is almost as obvious as Gambit’s within the current state of affairs.

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