I’m Worried About The MCU’s X-Men Movie After Watching X-Men ’97

Hugh Jackman snarling as Logan in Deadpool & Wolverine (2024) next to the poster for X-Men '97 (2024)

X-Men ’97 is one of Marvel’s best projects, causing me to worry somewhat about the MCU’s impending reboot on the big screen. When I first watched X-Men ’97‘s two-episode premiere, I was taken aback at the sheer quality of the show’s writing. It became clear to me that the continuation of X-Men: The Animated Series is one of the best Marvel TV shows ever made, an opinion that I only continued to place stock in after masterpieces like X-Men ’97 episode 5 and the three-part season finale.

Not only did X-Men ’97 reignite my excitement for upcoming Marvel TV shows, but it did the same with X-Men as a whole, fixing a lot of the problems I had with 20th Century Fox’s X-Men movie timeline. Even after X-Men ’97 ended, the excitement did not stop there. Shortly after the season 1 finale, it was announced that Michael Lesslie had been hired to pen the script for Marvel Studios’ MCU X-Men movie. While I am still optimistic about the X-Men entering the mainline MCU, X-Men ’97‘s many exceptional qualities have caused me to have some worries.

X-Men ’97 Makes A Great Case For The X-Men Working Best On TV

Movies Can Work, But X-Men ’97’s Serialized Format Proves TV Strengths

Mister Sinister looking menacing in X-Men '97 episode 3

The first worry about the MCU X-Men movie that X-Men ’97 instilled in me was the overall advantages a TV show offers. No matter what medium they appear in, the X-Men will always have an ensemble cast filled with tens of characters that combine to tell great stories. Although some of the best X-Men movies, like X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, have proven to work in portraying the mutants, I cannot deny that X-Men ’97 made me begin to think the titular team would work best on TV going forward.

The number of heroic characters and evil villains featured in X-Men ’97 was staggering, and I cannot help but think that some of the more niche roles in X-Men ’97 simply would not be explored on film. One example that brought me to this conclusion was X-Men ’97 episode 4, specifically the first half, titled “Motendo.” The episode followed Jubilee and Sunspot as they came face-to-face with Mojo, a villain from X-Men: The Animated Series who returned to conquer the world of video games.

While I was too young to see Mojo in all his glory in X-Men: TAS, I appreciated how quirky, meta, and outright fun the lesser-known character proved to be. It is not lost on me that a much smaller villain like Mojo would never make the cut as the primary antagonist of an X-Men feature film. Knowing this reality, I am equally aware that the character arcs of Sunspot and Jubilee would also be reduced as a result, which only supports how well the X-Men work on TV.

So many of these smaller characters have their deserved moments in the spotlight throughout X-Men ’97. The longer format of TV allows this, with many of the characters getting well-rounded character arcs that are only set to continue in X-Men ’97 season 2’s story. Unfortunately, these smaller arcs and more niche characters would have to wait years on end to be seen on the big screen, only further supporting my view after X-Men ’97 that the team may simply work better in a serialized format.

X-Men season 2 is expected to be released soon, with a third season already in development.

X-Men ’97’s MCU Disconnect Works In Its Favor

The Lack Of MCU Pressure On X-Men ’97’s Story Is A Welcome Change

Cyclops in X-Men '97 with Wolverine and Professor X in the live-action MCU

Another aspect of X-Men ’97 that causes me to worry about the MCU X-Men film is the former’s lack of connections to the wider MCU. The show takes place in its own section of the MCU multiverse, the same one I unfortunately never got to see in X-Men: The Animated Series when it originally aired. As such, X-Men ’97 has no pressure to align with the MCU’s extensive lore, world-building, or timeline. Rather than construct a story within the MCU’s pre-established world, X-Men ’97 had the much-welcomed freedom to tell a story that impacts an entirely separate universe.

MCU movies do not feel like massive events in a wider universe anymore…

Many would agree when I claim that MCU properties of late, specifically those of the Multiverse Saga, have shown an increased unwillingness to let major events impact the wider universe. From the Celestial sticking out of the ocean in Eternals to the more self-contained nature of stories like Shang-Chi, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, MCU movies do not feel like massive events in a wider universe anymore. Conversely, when watching X-Men ’97, I was shocked to find that almost every single episode – be it the best or the worst – had world-altering consequences.

This, unfortunately, means that the MCU X-Men movie would have to follow suit. Rather than tell a story like X-Men ’97 did, one that has consequences on hundreds of major Marvel characters around, the MCU X-Men movie would likely follow the same formula as the less-effective Phase 4 and 5 movies. X-Men ’97‘s many Marvel cameos proved how consequential the show’s story was to the entire universe, which only furthers my worries about an MCU X-Men movie not doing the same.

The MCU Has Struggled To Deliver On Cliffhangers & Setups

The Multiverse Saga Has Left Many Characters Hanging

Harry Styles as Eros/Starfox in the post-credits scene of Eternals

One argument I always raised to argue why the MCU was the best modern franchise in Hollywood was its interconnected nature. I could watch an installment of the franchise that had a concise story with a clear set-up for the future, and whatever lingering plot threads, character arcs, or major cliffhangers were left would be answered only a year later, two at most. This is a strength that I, among many others, believe the MCU has lacked in the Multiverse Saga, with several cliffhangers and future movie set-ups being left in limbo for far too long.

One argument I always raised to argue why the MCU was the best modern franchise in Hollywood was its interconnected nature. I could watch an installment of the franchise that had a concise story with a clear set-up for the future, and whatever lingering plot threads, character arcs, or major cliffhangers were left would be answered only a year later, two at most. This is a strength that I, among many others, believe the MCU has lacked in the Multiverse Saga, with several cliffhangers and future movie set-ups being left in limbo for far too long.

Since the Multiverse Saga began with Black Widow in 2021, no movie has received a sequel despite 10 films being released. Even movies that received overt sequel set-ups such as Eternals, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness look no closer to resolving the various cliffhangers they teased me with almost three years later. This forces me to beg the question: will the X-Men franchise emulate this frustrating pattern?

Based on how the Multiverse Saga is going, and the list of upcoming Marvel movies that has been released, it does not seem as though Marvel Studios will rectify this big issue I have. The X-Men should be a major part of any universe and thus should have movies released every few years. I have my doubts that Marvel Studios would be able to deliver this after the Multiverse Saga’s problems; X-Men ’97 has a first season on Disney+, a second nearing completion, and a third already entering development, proving that Marvel TV is avoiding the release issues that plague Marvel Studios of late.

The Fox X-Men movies have their story and character issues, but even they were released regularly with no longer than a three-year gap across a 20-year period.

X-Men ’97’s Action Is Hard To Replicate In Live-Action

X-Men ’97’s Animation Made For Some Franchise-Firsts Regarding Mutant Action Sequences

The X-Men leader, Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, uses his laser powers to full effect while in battle in X-Men '97

One aspect I praised week-to-week when watching X-Men ’97 was its animation. From the character and background designs to the fluid movements and emotive facial expressions, X-Men ’97‘s animation ranks among some of the best I have seen in recent years. What stood out above all else, however, was how well the action sequences were animated. What worried me most about the MCU X-Men movie when watching X-Men ’97‘s fantastic action scenes was how the latter would be incredibly difficult to replicate in the former.

There is no denying that X-Men ’97 has raised the bar from an action standpoint…

The way each mutant’s power is realized in X-Men ’97 was striking to behold, from Cyclops’ concussive blasts to Nightcrawler’s iconic teleportation. The latter was depicted in X-Men ’97 episode 8 in a way that left me astounded, with the animation allowing me to be pulled into Nightcrawler’s world of teleportation alongside Wolverine. These moments, along with many others, exhibited the powers of the team with such style that I began to wonder if they could be topped in live-action. Of course, not every movie needs to surpass what has come before.

If the MCU’s X-Men movies have strong writing, good characters, and the hard-hitting political commentary that comes with the territory, I’ll be happy. That said, there is no denying that X-Men ’97 has raised the bar from an action standpoint, meaning I will constantly – if only even subconsciously – be on the lookout for the MCU’s live-action films to eclipse such a bar. This is only the latest in a long line of worries X-Men ’97 caused me to have about the MCU’s X-Men movie, no matter how excited I am to see the mutant characters return to the big screen once more.

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