X-Men Heroes Face Their Darkest Hour in Episode 5

X-Men ’97’s latest episode just killed off countless mutants, including two of the most famous names in X-Men lore. But will the brutal deaths last?

A Wild Sentinel in close up from X-Men 97

X-Men ’97‘s most brutal episode just massacred countless mutants and Morlocks in a stunning event that could have changed everything for the beloved show. The surprise attack on Genosha by the Wild Sentinel immediately broke the strange peace between mutants and humankind as the former safe-haven was welcomed into the UN. So unexpected was the attack – even with a last minute warning by the returning Cable – that big name X-Men were killed off in a bloody episode that landed one of the most emotional punches of any X-Men adaptation.

The question now is whether the mutants who were killed in the Fall of Genosha will remain dead. The episode already played one death fake-out card with Nightcrawler, when it appeared the popular German X-Men hero was killed, only for his grave injuries to be undone very quickly. But the same cannot be said for the other mutant casualties, with two of X-Men’s most famous names among the dead. On first assessment, it appears X-Men ’97 episode 5 is adapting a version of E Is For Extinction, Grant Morrison’s explosive X-Men arc that saw the return of Cassandra Nova and the deaths of 16 million mutants in Genosha.

X-Men ’97 Just Killed Off Magneto And Gambit (And A Lot Of Other Mutants)

The Wild Sentinel Mutant Massacre Took Out “So Many”

Magneto's Death in X-Men 97

X-Men 97‘s brutal mutant massacre on Genosha included the likely deaths of Banshee, Hellfire Club leader Sebastian Shaw, Morlocks leader Callisto, and “so many” others, according to Gambit’s battlefield report. Stunningly, the two biggest deaths in X-Men ’97 episode 5 were new team leader Magneto and fan favorite Gambit, who were both killed in the episode’s climax and appear to be legitimately dead. There is a chance one of the pair will make it, but it’s not looking good for the other…

Magneto Gets A Hero’s Death In X-Men ’97

Magneto defends Leech in X-Men 97

As X-Men ’97 episode 5 reaches its climax, a small group of Morlocks, including Tommy and Leech are trapped in the firing line of the Wild Sentinel. On the verge of death, they’re seemingly saved by Magneto, who sets off the Sentinel’s “Omega-level threat warning” and forms a protective shield around the Morlocks. Both Rogue and Gambit attempt to intervene, but Magneto incapacitates them in a metal prison to save their lives, before he’s overcome by the Wild Sentinel’s energy blast and is apparently killed alongside the Morlocks he sought to protect.

Gambit’s Heroic Sacrifice In X-Men ’97 Episode 5 Explained

Gambit on a motorbike in X-Men 97

Not intent with leaving only one of Rogue’s love interests dead, X-Men ’97 episode 5 then takes the other from her. Enraged by the death of Magneto and the Morlocks, Gambit makes a final play against the Wild Sentinel in a solo attack. Typical Gambit, playing with chance. Unfortunately, he’s stabbed by the Sentinel through his side, and as he dies, he uses his powers to charge up the giant robot, destroying it in an impressive show of his superpowers. In the aftermath, Rogue mourns his battered corpse.

Will Gambit & Magneto Return In X-Men ’97?

Death Doesn’t Always Last In Marvel Comics Adaptations…

Gambit's Remember It moment in X-Men 97

Death in comic books – and their adaptations, of course – is only as permanent as the writers want it to be. There have been countless deaths in Marvel Comics that have been quickly reversed and others that took years to be undone. Magneto has been killed multiple times in Marvel Comics, and it’s never lasted, even after his long-term absence during the entire Fall Of X run in 2023 (until his resurrection in January 2024). His evasion of the Grim Reaper makes his return feel likely, though it’s unclear right now how that will be possible. But then, he is an Omega-level mutant and has a lot of plot armor.

Magneto’s X-Men ’97 “Death” Mirrors E Is For Extinction

The latest episode of X-Men ’97 appears to be adapting a version of the E Is For Extinction event, which saw Cassandra Nova successfully wiping out millions of mutants in her attack on Genosha. The one wrinkle is Cable’s warning that “he is coming”, but he could easily have been referring to the Wild Sentinel, rather than to its master. If that storyline is set to play out and Nova is going to appear in the final episodes of X-Men ’97 season 1, there is already a hint that Magneto’s death won’t last.

Cassandra Nova is set to appear in Deadpool & Wolverine

In New X-Men #115 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly, Magneto is seemingly killed when Cassandra Nova sends her sentinels to Genosha to wipe out the mutants. He’s initially believed to be part of the long list of the dead, but it’s later revealed that he was saved by his followers. What came next was a lot of confusing continuity about Magneto actually being another character called Xorn in disguise in the aftermath of his death, but honestly, that all ended up being more complex than it needs to be. The important thing is that Magneto didn’t die and eventually returned.

In X-Men ’97 episode 5, it’s telling that Magneto’s body is never shown on screen, giving him, Leech and the other Morlock victims a chance for survival. Ignoring the Wild Sentinel’s “Omega threat neutralized” assessment (since Magneto’s powers could have messed with its systems), Magneto’s force field could still have protected the group and blasted them below the ground.

Why Gambit’s X-Men ’97 Death Feels Permanent

Gambit’s resurrection, on the other hand, would be harder to explain. For decades, Remy was one of the few X-Men who was basically never killed off – he had some near misses and was at death’s door at least once, but was pulled back from the brink (by Rogue, obviously). But Gambit was killed in 2022 in Knights of X #3, by Tini Howard and Bob Quinn, while battling Merlyn. As the veteran mutant was killed in Otherworld, his resurrection was always possible, though it was established he’d be completely transformed. In the end, the X-Men broke the rules of Otherworld resurrections and Gambit was restored to his true self.

For X-Men ’97, that loophole simply doesn’t exist. Gambit’s death in that story arc and subsequent resurrection in Knights of X relied on the location of Otherworld for justification. In X-Men ’97, in brutal contrast, Gambit was killed in battle in the real world, and there doesn’t appear to be any established lore that can save him from the fatal stabbing and explosion injuries. In short, it seems Gambit is truly dead, even if Magneto’s death could be more open-ended. If the sight of his body wasn’t enough confirmation, Rogue’s heartbreaking “I can’t feel you” line should be.

How X-Men ’97 Potentially Set Up A Major Reversal Of Gambit & Magneto’s Death

Could Cable Be The Key?

Madelyne and Cable in X-Men '97 Episode 5

There’s one plot device that trumps all lore and all sense of finality in comic book storylines: time travel. And luckily for Gambit and Magneto, and any fans unwilling to accept their deaths are indeed permanent, X-Men ’97 already has an ace card up its sleeve in the shape of Cable. For a brief moment in episode 5, Cable appeared as a herald of the sentinel attack, attempting to warn his mother, Madelyne Pryor, of the impending catastrophe. Ultimately, Cable fails, says “sorry” for not being able to help, and is sucked back to the future timeline.

Clearly, Cable is a key part to this storyline in a way that is yet to be confirmed. His attempt to warn the doomed Genosha mutants could be a hint that he will once more try to save his mother and the other Wild Sentinel victims before the attack takes them out. In that case, it could be that a future episode of X-Men ’97 shows Cable coming back to the present once more and reversing both Magneto and Gambit’s deaths. We can only hope.

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