How [SPOILER] Returns In X-Men ’97 & The Huge Marvel Storyline It Sets Up

The X-Men ’97 Season 1 finale sets up the surprise return of one of the X-Men’s most formidable opponents, setting the stage for Season 2.

This article contains spoilers for X-Men ’97 Season 1

X-Men ’97 season 1 has ended, and the concluding scene sets up the return of one of the team’s most formidable opponents. While not part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the celebrated series has set a new, excellent standard for X-Men storytelling that could be followed in the MCU. Following a series of explosive and violent battles and the return of the Phoenix, E-Day has played out in a series of exciting sequences, physical and mental alike. Still, it is the season’s end, and while many story threads have been resolved, new mysteries and curiosities have been added that made anticipation for X-Men ’97 season 2 build.

The first season of X-Men ’97 drew quickly and liberally from diverse source material, including New X-MenUltimate X-Men, and even details from the more recent Krakoa era. Restoring Charles Xavier to life, building up the threat of Bastion and the Prime Sentinels, the appearance of Jean Grey clone Madelyne Pryor, and the return of Mister Sinister all came together to create a truly cohesive and dazzling series of television. Still, the show has already been renewed for a second season, and the end of the first season’s final episode teases viewers on where the story may be headed.

How Apocalypse Survived In X-Men: The Animated Series

Young Apocalypse in X-Men '97 Episode 10

Apocalypse returns at the ending of X-Men ’97 episode 10. As the X-Men have been scattered to different time periods following the events of E-Day, two versions of the Apocalypse are teased. First, several of the X-Men arrive in ancient Egypt, where they are greeted by En Sabah Nur, who, viewers will be aware, is the human name of Apocalypse. Then, a traditional Apocalypse carries one of Gambit’s cards in a post-credit scene in present-day Genosha. Having been one of the biggest threats in the original animated series, viewers may wonder how the iconic villain has returned.

Created by Louise Simonson and Jackson Guice, Apocalypse has been one of the greatest threats and most celebrated characters in X-Men comics since first appearing in X-Factor #5 in June 1986.

The ending of Apocalypse’s story in X-Men: The Animated Series is inconclusive, with En Sabah Nur surviving in another form. After being banished to the Astral Plane in “Beyond Good and Evil Part 4: End and Beginning”, Apocalypse seemed to be no longer a threat. Then, near the end of the series, Apocalypse takes his servant Fabian Cortez’s body as a vessel, allowing his escape from the astral plane. These actions result in Apocalypse remaining a threat to the X-Men. However, due to the time-traveling nature of this new story, it is unclear if this Apocalypse is the same version the X-Men faced previously.

X-Men ’97 Sets Up Marvel’s Blood of Apocalypse & Age Of Apocalypse Arcs

Apocalypse making fists in X-Men The Animated Series

Following how X-Men ’97 quickly adapted many source materials from the X-Men comics, it is logical that the writers plan on using at least two of the most popular Apocalypse stories in the series’ second season. Sending the X-Men through time is a perfect setup for an adaptation of Age of Apocalypse, where in the comics, Xavier’s dying in the 1950s allowed a dystopic empire to rise. It seems likely that the upcoming season of the series will adapt the empowering of Age of Apocalypse due to the displacement of many of these mutants across time rather than because of Xavier’s death.

Pulling from details of Blood of Apocalypse makes sense as well. After the battles of the first season of this series and after leadership qualms between Xavier and Magnus, it is unlikely that all the X-Men will be ideologically aligned in this upcoming season. Blood of Apocalypse features a de-powered mutant population after the Scarlet Witch eradicates mutant powers in House of M. Still, the details of this can be replaced by displacement over time in the upcoming season. What seems likely to follow this story is that various members of the X-Men team will likely be recruited to Apocalypse’s side in this upcoming season. However, it is unclear which team members will work with him.

How X-Men ’97 Set Up Apocalypse’s Rise

Moira MacTaggert with Apocalypse in Marvel Comics

Apocalypse, one of the most formidable X-Men villains, has a mission to erase humanity in his belief in mutant superiority. His character has played significant roles, even fighting alongside the X-Men. The first season of X-Men ’97 set the stage, reestablishing and pitting the team against the Prime Sentinels. As the series progresses, it’s logical to expect a shift from stories of mutant eradication to stories of mutant supremacy. The return of Apocalypse as a villain in the second season of X-Men ’97 promises to be a thrilling continuation of the series.

While it is unclear exactly how much the past will impact the future in the upcoming season, the events of X-Men ’97 will likely set up a difficult present and future for mutants. This kind of dissatisfaction will lead many to align with Apocalypse. While it is unclear which mutants will join his side, especially considering their past, the theme of mutant superiority is often made sympathetic in these stories. It will be exciting to explore when the series returns.

It will be interesting to see what changes the writers make for the upcoming season and what characters return following Xavier’s reappearance and Gambit’s suggested return. It has become clear through this season that any Marvel character could appear at any time. Traveling throughout history, many new and exciting X-Men storylines will be told when the series returns. Hopefully, the already wonderful X-Men ’97 will grow even better when it returns for a second season.

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