X-Men ’97 Fan Theory Unravels Hidden Scheme in Episode 5’s Shocking Conclusion

X-Men ’97 episode 5’s tragic ending may have been the work of a secret Marvel villain who may have been hiding in plain sight all along.

Magneto and Gambit Face Three-Headed Sentinel Master Mold in X-Men 97 Episode 5Magneto and Gambit Face Three-Headed Sentinel Master Mold in X-Men 97 Episode 5

Warning! This article contains spoilers for X-Men ’97 episode 5.

A detailed X-Men ’97 theory uncovers the villain who may have ensured the execution of the attack on Genosha in the Marvel animated series’ episode 5. X-Men ’97 episode 5’s tragic ending splits mutantkind’s history in two. The Sentinels’ brutal attack on Genosha claims the lives of countless mutants, including several major X-Men ’97 casualties like Gambit, Banshee, Callisto, Sebastian Shaw, and Moira MacTaggert, among many others. Genosha has been reduced to rubble by an army of Sentinels, all deployed by a giant three-headed Sentinel with advanced mutant detection abilities and powerful disintegrating lasers.

The Sentinels’ attack on Genosha starts while all mutants are celebrating Genosha’s recognition as a mutant haven by the UN. This may not be a coincidence, as suggested by Cable when he arrives to warn Madelyne Pryor of the impending tragedy — albeit too late to make any difference. Cable’s warning may also provide a hint at the real villain behind X-Men ’97‘s Genosha massacre with his allusion to a male enemy when he tells Madelyne, You have to get everyone out. Now! He’s coming.” However, another villain responsible for the attack may have been hiding in plain sight all along.

Valerie Cooper Is Always Present When Tragedy Strikes in X-Men ’97

Valerie Cooper May Have Secret Intentions With Her Involvement In Mutant Affairs

Valerie Cooper Arrives To Attend Magneto's Trial in X-Men 97

In X-Men ’97 episode 2, United Nations operative Valerie Cooper attends Magneto’s trial as a Mutant Affairs representative. To everybody’s surprise, the Friends of Humanity interrupt the trial and attack Magneto, which results in Storm losing her mutant powers and Magneto taking a more aggressive approach to the legal process. Later on, Valerie Cooper attends the mutants’ celebration in Genosha, which ends in tragedy when the Sentinels attack. Although her alleged friendship with Professor X and her expertise in mutant-human relations place her as an ally to the X-Men, Valerie Cooper’s presence in the X-Men’s latest defeats has become suspicious.

In the comics, Valerie Cooper helps the government establish a defense against mutants. To turn Cooper’s goals in her favor, the shapeshifting assassin Mystique makes a deal with Cooper to get the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants pardoned in exchange for their services as anti-mutant operatives. Valerie Cooper and Mystique’s alliance allows Mystique to adopt Cooper’s identity for a while, after which Cooper creates a second government-sponsored mutant team. In X-Men ’97it’s possible that Mystique is already impersonating Valerie Cooper, trying to shape mutant-related events to her convenience, or perhaps following the orders of an off-screen villain.

Valerie Cooper Shows An Uncharacteristic Interest In Mystique’s Adopted Daughter Rogue

Valerie Cooper Has No Reason To Be So Concerned About Rogue And Magneto’s Relationship

Rogue and Magneto in pink light in X-Men '97 episode 5

When Magneto makes his case to the UN panel in X-Men ’97 episode 2, he says “[Xavier’s dream] does not ask you to love or embrace my kind as your own”, prompting an emotional response in Valerie Cooper, who looks at him with a guilty expression on her face. Nathan Summers’ birth is intertwined with Magneto’s speech, and curiously, a brief shot of Rogue helping Madelyne deliver the baby flashes on screen when Cooper reacts to Magneto’s words. If Mystique is impersonating Cooper, the idea of embracing someone as her own would sound familiar, as Rogue is Mystique’s adopted daughter.

Rogue confronted Mystique for her criminal actions in X-Men: The Animated Series , and even though Mystique swore her motherly love for Rogue was genuine, Rogue disowned her mother.

In X-Men ’97 episode 5, Valerie Cooper once again shows an oddly specific interest in Rogue. During the party, Valerie Cooper confronts Magneto for appointing himself as Genosha’s leader. Sebastian Shaw dismisses her concerns, revealing that Magneto has already chosen someone to rule alongside him: Rogue. Valerie Cooper visibly drops her guard and asks Shaw whether Rogue accepted, but the conversation is interrupted by Rogue’s arrival. As Rogue and Magneto dance in front of everyone, Valerie Cooper remains concerned. If Cooper wasn’t Mystique in disguise, there would be no reason for her to care so much about Rogue’s personal decisions.

Valerie Cooper’s Eyes Have Turned Yellow During X-Men ’97’s Key Moments

Valerie Cooper’s Eye Color Is The Most Evident Hint At Her Secret Role In X-Men ’97

Valerie Cooper's Eyes Turn Yellow in X-Men 97

Valerie Cooper’s visible concern for Rogue isn’t the only clue about her possible double identity. X-Men ’97 introduced Valerie Cooper as a blond and blue-eyed woman. However, Valerie Cooper’s eyes suddenly look yellow precisely in the two moments when she has demonstrated an uncharacteristic concern for Rogue and Magneto. In X-Men ’97 episode 2, Valerie Cooper’s blue eyes turn yellow when she reacts to Magneto’s speech to the UN, and in X-Men ’97 episode 2, Cooper’s eyes look remarkably yellow when Shaw tells her that Rogue will rule Genosha alongside Magneto.

Mystique’s yellow eyes are usually the one physical feature that allows the audience and other characters to understand when she’s impersonating someone. They’re also the first body part to turn back to Mystique’s original appearance when she shapeshifts, and the one trait she shares with her son Nightcrawler, besides their blue skin. Although Valerie Cooper’s eyes don’t look exactly like Mystique’s original eyes (with no defined iris or pupil), they look too different from her natural eyes for the color change to be a mere coincidence.

Why Would Mystique Help Kill So Many Mutants In Genosha?

Mystique Has Always Been An Assassin For Hire

Genosha Destroyed in X-Men 97 Episode 5 and Mystique in The Animated Series

While she’s a mutant, Mystique is a heartless assassin, first and foremost. Contracts shape her morals, and she doesn’t care whether she’s helping someone she was previously hired to harm. Mystique has previously worked for Mister Sinister and Apocalypse in X-Men: The Animated Series, where she helped the villains further their plans against the X-Men. Since Cable barely manages to tell Madelyne Pryor that “he’s coming” before the attack on Genosha takes place, it’s possible that Apocalypse — who’s responsible for Cable’s woes in the X-Men’s future timeline — is the one who orchestrated the attack with Mystique’s help.

But as treacherous as Mystique is known to be, massacring countless mutants and destroying a mutant haven isn’t convenient for her, especially considering that her two children are present in the attack. This may have been the reason why Valerie Cooper seemed moved by Magneto’s words during his trial and why she seemed concerned about Rogue’s presence in Genosha in previous X-Men ’97 episodes. A villain like Apocalypse might have ordered Mystique to put all pieces into place, but executed the attack earlier in order to get rid of Mystique before she regretted bringing Rogue and Nightcrawler to ground zero.

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