“We tried a low-tech approach”: X-Men ’97 Set ‘False Parameters’ to Make Sure Their Characters Could Swear, Get Out of the Disney Baby-Formula Approach

How was swearing and graphic violence allowed in X-Men ’97?

X-Men ’97 is certainly very close to the original 1992 series. The art style, graphics, animations, voices, and even story have followed the same path, starting off right where the first series ended in 1997. While hardcore fans would agree that the show feels exactly the same, some aspects of it were changed to better appeal to today’s audience.

Peter Parker and MJ reunite in the finale of X-Men '97 | Marvel Animation

From characters swearing to a visible increase in the brutality of the violence, some aspects have evolved for the better. The changes seem easy to miss; however, the behind-the-scenes process of getting them into the show had to have been very difficult, especially because of how strict Disney is when it comes to such themes.

However, the director of the series recently revealed how they made their way around this.

X-Men ’97 No Longer Had Strict Rules

When X-Men: The Animated Series was originally being released, it was airing on broadcast television and, naturally, had to adhere to their rules. It is quite a well-known fact that when shows are aired on broadcast television, there are a lot of rules that are to be followed. Violence is to be kept to a minimum, and the dialogues that characters say are inspected under a microscope.

X-Men '97's ending teases an excuting futur for our vbleoved heroes | Marvel Animation

Such strict rules meant that the original series could not show any of the fun stuff that audiences love about the superhero genre. Thankfully, X-Men ’97 was not forced to follow such rules as it would be airing on Disney+.

However, the parent company of the streaming service specializes in children’s content and, therefore, is even more strict with what is allowed to be shown in shows, regardless of their age range.

It absolutely affects how we set up technically for animation as a whole, knowing that we don’t have that sort of broadcast standard. 

X-Men '97.

During a recent interview with Discussing Film, the director of the series, Jake Castorena, talked about how he was able to find ways around Disney’s watchful eyes and give the fans what they wanted.

X-Men ’97 Creators Had False Parameters for Themselves

During the making of X-Men ’97, a decent percentage of the footage was animated by external organizations. During the interview, Jake Castorena took the example of the finale, which was 40 minutes long. He revealed that they had footage for around half of that time for the entire episode, which was then sent out and animated.

Magneto in a scene in X-Men ’97

When they received this footage back, they would edit it accordingly, adding pauses when needed, additional actions, conversations, and other aspects that gave life to the show. With these, they were given a sort of freedom that allowed them to do what they wanted without worrying about Disney bombarding them.

Having those parameters and freedom is great, knowing if we need to make more time or shorten the time for a moment to work. Like you said, we can show violence and not have to shy away from it as well.

While he did not specify exactly how swearing made it into the series, he did mention that the production team had false parameters that ensured the creation of the new series was as loyal as it could be to the past. He revealed that whenever they would make any new addition to the show, they would wonder if it would have been possible when the show was originally airing.

But with that said, and what I appreciate about our crew and what we did, we have to give ourselves false parameters in every aspect. We would love to put all these bells and whistles on the show’s style, but that’s a little too advanced for what the original series probably would have had. 

We tried a low-tech approach, and it was like, “Wow, this really works.” These kinds of false parameters only helped us to better achieve the feeling of the original show.

Storm in X-Men '97

If it wasn’t, they would remove it and start over. While they were loyal to the past in many ways, in some, they preferred to be progressive.

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