X-Men Producer Lifts Veil on The Watcher Cameo’s Hidden Clues for Season 1

Following the theorized cameo about The Watcher in X-Men ’97 season 1, episode 5, supervising producer Jake Castorena teases his future.

The Watcher in space in What If...?

WARNING: This article includes MAJOR SPOILERS from X-Men ’97 season 1, episode 5.

Supervising producer Jake Castorena speaks out on The Watcher’s supposed cameo in X-Men ’97, and what this may mean for this version of the Marvel universe. For longtime viewers of X-Men: The Animated Series, the franchise went through a massive game-changer with the Disney+ show’s episode 5 that will carry on for the rest of the season. However, the Genosha genocide wasn’t the only big talking point to come out of the episode, as Marvel’s The Watcher seemingly made his way back into the sequel series.

In an interview, Castorena, who works as the head director and supervision producer on X-Men ’97 season 1, chimed in on whether or not that was really a cameo by The Watcher, who fans saw in the sky. Castorena remained a bit ambiguous on the exact nature of the Marvel character’s role in the episode, though did acknowledge that the Marvel Cinematic Universe served as a template for them figuring out how to do that, and for what to do with future cameos in the show. See what Castorena explained below:

JAKE CASTORENA: What I can say is, to that point of everything is connected, everything in the MCU is absolutely connected. Everybody on that side of the pond, as I like to say, they work really hard to make sure that happens. The cool thing about our sandbox with the ’90s X-Men, a cartoon of it all. This was the MCU, before the MCU was really ever the MCU. This is where we learned about cameos and at least, for fans like myself, this introduced me to a lot of the characters that I later on went to the comics for.

So, in that vein, we really have our own sandbox to play in and don’t really have to worry about the intertwining of it all. You get to have all of the candy, you don’t have to pick with one side and to that point, what I will say is, any fan of the OG show will have noticed The Watcher cameo in the series. So it is not out of canon for the OG X-Men ’90-97, to have The Watcher, watching or looking on.

What I will say is, is it necessarily The Watcher looking out for the X-Men or is it The Watcher looking on at events that need to occur for the sake of a timeline or ripple effect? I would hesitate to say The Watcher is looking out for the X-Men or for mutants, because [he’s] not doing a great job in that moment. [laughs] Right. But that was definitely – and this escapes me right now because it’s been almost two-three years working on this stuff – I don’t remember if that wasn’t in the script, per se, but it definitely came up early on in the rooms and in the conversations, like, “Oh, can we put The Watcher in there?”

Because it is a significant moment, genocide is about to happen, and we’re introducing, the mutant massacre, [similar to] E for Extinction, inspiring storylines into the episode. How could The Watcher not be there to witness this? But it’s pretty great. Shout out to our paint team and production designer Anthony, who worked really hard to get it just right to where if you blink, you’ll miss it. So it’s been really fun to see the reactions of fans catching The Watcher on the rewatch. So that’s been really fun.

The Watcher in between timelines in What If...? season 1

How The Watcher’s X-Men ’97 Cameo Continues The MCU’s Best Multiverse Trick

Even though the original series debuted a long time before the MCU came to life, Marvel Studios is cleverly finding ways to build bridges between X-Men ’97 and their live-action franchise. Having someone like The Watcher, a player who is integral to the MCU’s ongoing multiverse storytelling, makes sense more than ever. It is far more organic to have The Watcher, even if he is simply observing events that are about to happen, make an appearance as opposed to major Avengers characters, just for the sake of having big names in the show.

The Watcher may have been one of Marvel’s more obscure characters before What If…?, but thanks to the Disney+ animated series, he is now becoming more recognizable every time he gets used in a Marvel property. While it is unlikely that X-Men ’97 will have anything to do with The Multiverse Saga as Marvel Studios gets closer to the arc’s end, the option at least exists now, with The Watcher serving as a bridge between those worlds. Whether or not The Watcher will factor into the rest of the season remains to be seen, but based on Castorena’s hint, it is possible that he will in some capacity.

Knowing that the creative team is this devoted to tapping into bigger connections and ties to the larger Marvel canon speaks a lot of volumes about the great potential that could be executed in future seasons. If anything, the upcoming season finale could potentially be where The Watcher makes his next appearance. But for now, time will tell if The Watcher’s little cameo on X-Men ’97 is foreshadowing crucial arcs to come in upcoming episodes.

Catch new episodes of X-Men ’97 season 1 every Wednesday on Disney+.

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