“There were no computers then”: Making X-Men: ’97 Was a Total Breeze Compared to the Nightmare That Was the Original 1992 Animated Series

X-Men: The Animated Series was supposed to go on for more seasons!

Xmen 97

The animated return of the X-Men this year breathed life into Marvel fans, who were waiting for something good from the franchise for quite some time. X-Men ’97 was the perfect mix of nostalgia and modernization and hit the viewers’ right in the feels. Though creating that effect was not easy, the original X-Men cartoon had it way more tough.

A still from X-Men '97 | Marvel Animation
X-Men ’97 used the best in class animation and techniques to bring out characters and storylines straight from Marvel comics. Back in the early 90s, animation was not as simple, and creating a moving panel took a lot more than just clicking a button.

How different was it back then? Let’s have a look at what the showrunners have to say.

X-Men: The Animated Series took a lot of time and effort to be made

The original X-Men: The Animated Series (1992).
Back in the 90s, animated shows were quite popular as Sunday morning kids supplement. However, the process of making these shows was grueling. The computers and softwares were not as developed as they are today, and a lot had to be printed on paper before it could be put into motion on-screen.

X-Men: The Animated Series director and producer Larry Houston recalled in an interview with Marvel.com:

No computers. There were no computers then. I brought in my collection of X-Men comic books to work. And when I went to hand out stories to the artists, I’d put them on the Xerox machine, copy the pages I thought were pertinent.

Showrunner Eric Lewald added:

Just realizing how many tens of thousands of art elements that were involved in getting a show done. There’d be half a second of screen time. And that might be eight or nine layers of paint, backgrounds, part of this character, part of this other character.

It took humungous willpower and effort from the team to keep the show going on for five years. Imagine how much more they would have to toil if it was kept on for its original length of time.

X-Men: The Animated Series was originally supposed to go on for 10 years

Marvel’s X-Men: The Animated series debuted in 1992 and went on for five seasons over five years. Throughout its run, it remained one of the fan favorites. That’s one of the reasons why X-Men ’97 could achieve the level of fame that it did recently.
X-Men The Animated Series 3
However, the level of hardship the team had to endure was romping up with each season. And it had to end after Season 5. But initially, it was planned to go on for a decade!

Showrunner Lewald recalled:

Margaret [Loesch] had wanted to do the show for ten years. Nobody in Hollywood believed the X-Men could be popular. She’d pitch it and pitch it. They said, “No, this is too weird. This is too inside-comic-bookie.” So Margaret could never get it sold. When she got ready to do it, she picked the people that she thought would be the strongest, and she immediately went to Larry and Will. And then, I got called after.

I went into that first meeting in February with, you know, thirty people. And I didn’t know a damn thing about the X-Men. I just had to smile, nod my head, and say, “Sure, yes!”

If the animated series had gone on for a decade, we probably wouldn’t have gotten X-Men ’97 today. And our memories of the X-Men cartoons probably would have been different. In the end, everything panned out for the best, with Deadpool & Wolverine officially set to bring mutants into the MCU.

X-Men: The Animated Series and X-Men: ’97 can be streamed on Disney+

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