|This article is written from the Real World perspective|
|Beginning date||October 31, 1992|
|End date||September 20, 1997|
|Number of Episodes||76|
|Original Channel||Fox Kids|
|Previous Series||The Incredible Hulk|
|Next Series||Iron Man|
X-Men is the first series in ultimately what would become the Marvel Animated Universe. The series aired from October 31, 1992 to September 20, 1997.
Along with Batman: The Animated Series, X-Men helped launch the numerous comic book shows that debuted during the 1990s. And, like Batman, is considered one of the most faithful to the original comic book version.
This series was the second attempt to make an animated version of the X-Men comics. The first was a half-hour special titled "Pryde of the X-Men". Although aired numerous times between 1989 and 1992, Pryde was poorly received and was not picked up. Pryde was said to have almost killed any chances of a series being picked up. Executives objected to Wolverine's Australian accent and the dragon sidekick. Eventually the idea was reworked into this series.
Fox Kids vice-chairman Margaret Loesch and executive Sidney Iwanter bargained for a second chance. Loesch vowed not to make the same mistakes as "Pryde of the X-Men". She brought in Haim Saban of Saban Entertainment and Graz Entertainment. They hired Eric Lewald to be the executive story producer. They worked with Bob Harras to fill the staff with comic book geeks like Will Meugniot, Larry Houston, and Eric's wife Julia.
Loesch said of her efforts, "This has been a labor of love for a group of us, myself, and Stan Lee, who have tried for a long time to get this on the air. Unfortunately, as a producer, I wasn't successful, but as a network executive I have been successful in contributing to it getting on the air."
Loesch brought in Haim Saban of Saban Entertainment to produce the show. However, they did not have sufficient staff to do the entire series in-house as contracted so they brought in Graz Entertainment to help.
As a child, Eric Lewald was not a comic book fan having given away his modest collection to a friend. Most of the staff were X-Men fanatics and did not allow the series to stray too far from the comics. He does credit his lack of knowledge combined with his love of the characters to have benefited the series. "I had to learn them quickly and understand what it was about their nature and stories that made fans so fanatical. My and head writer Mark Edens' entire agenda was to tell compelling heroic stories that suited TV animation." Several writers submitted scripts that contained more characters and events from the comics, but would be difficult to make into a twenty-two minute episode. He felt that some of the bigger fans couldn't see past their passion. At the time, the X-Men were relatively unfamiliar outside the comic book realm and the Lewald's distance helped the series to connect with new audiences.
Meugniot was the first person hired. Houston was the second and Eric Lewald was the third.
Meugniot and Houston were big X-Men fans since their childhoods reading the original comics. Eric Lewald was not yet a fan and simply wanted to tell good stories.
Outside of The Incredible Hulk, Marvel had only had moderate success in television and almost no success in film. Loesch believed in the show and put her career on the line to get the show made even though senior executives, advertisers, and station owners did not.
Everyone involved knew that the characters needed to be taken seriously despite varying tones in the comics. Iwanter would refer to this series as "hard rock" and Batman: The Animated Series as "cool jazz."
Finding the right tone proved to be difficult for the producers. They wanted to be serious telling adult stories in a children's medium. Loesch said, "We try not to lose the magic of the X-Men. We've tried not to skew it so young that we would alienate the comic book reader or the older comic book fans. It's a challenge." Bob Harras said, "I think they've made a really, really strong effort to mirror what goes on in the comics. I think they've tried to see what we've been successful at for thirty years and translate it very well to Saturday morning television."
Compared to Batman, the series had a much smaller budget. Batman had the more substantial resources of Warner Brothers, whereas Fox had much less. Batman had more time for production. X-Men was hurried and ragtag. Any mistake could have cost thousands. Iwanter attributed this to the series "rawness."
Iwanter was always challenging the creative decisions and directions while also not giving up. Saban attributed his perseverance, tenacity, and passion to the series success. Saban said he doesn't like "yes men" and wants people to challenge him.
Early in the series' development, Stan Lee expressed interest in running the show. He wanted something closer to the original comics of the 1960s with a teen vibe. The series writers decided to go with the intensity of the 1970s.
Early in production, Lee tried to be the narrator of the series as he had done for Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, The Incredible Hulk, and "Pryde of the X-Men". He wanted to host the series similar to Walt Disney's hosting of The Wonderful World of Disney. In an interview with Eric Lewald Meugniot said:
Meugniot: On X-MEN:TAS I'd gotten a call from Margaret that Stan had persuaded her that he should be narrating the episodes, that they should open with Stan at a desk like Walt Disney explaining what was going to be happening. Larry (Houston, director) and Rick (Hoberg, artist) and I hadn't minded that idea on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and the Hulk, both younger kids shows. But X-MEN:TAS was different: I knew we had to go for the young adult audience. I had a tough phone call with Margaret because she'd decided to let a very persistent Stan introduce the series, and I had to talk her out of it. I said: "We're going up against our own sophisticated Fox show, Batman:TAS. Even though we're both on the same network, that's our biggest competition. If you start out with this nice old man explaining who the X-Men characters are and what the lesson is, you’re going to kill the show."
Lewald: But Stan had got her to agree to it.
Meugniot: He'd gotten her to agree to it, and, it took a good half-an-hour, but Margaret finally says, "Okay, I accept your argument, Will, but you have to tell Stan." So prior to going into that (big Fox network) meeting, I had already pissed off Stan, telling him that he wasn't going to get to be the on-camera host of the show. It was a little dicey as to whether Stan would accept me and our formerly friendly relationship where I could mediate things with him. Fortunately he's a rational guy: He got what I was saying. I think what's important here is that when push came to shove, Margaret backed us, where she'd made the decision she was going to go with us: Even if we made some wrong choices, she wanted to see what happened if she let us run our show. It was very courageous of her: If X-Men wasn't a hit, after she’d gone to the mat on it, she was going to be fired. Her choosing to back you, me, Sidney, and Larry was courageous. Particularly when the show first came in and a lot of the people in the business didn’t know what to make of it. I knew that we would have a hit, but nobody had ever seen a kids' show like it before. They were terrified of it.
Eric Lewald said, "There were rumblings of 'This could really flop.' [Executives would say,] 'The scripts aren't funny.' 'These scripts seem a little dark.' 'Gosh, I'm afraid this is going to be a disaster.' There was serious anxiety until the first screening. But from that day onward, no anxiety."
Individual episodes were given out to individual writers instead of being developed in a shared writer's room, as with other dramas. Eric Lewald would conceive story arcs and bounce the ideas between individual writers. He would then take those to Marvel and piece them together into the show.
The series was perhaps the first animated series to have on-going series. Before X-Men, shows were episodic focusing only one the weekly story. Most stories would be wrapped up by the end of the episode and have little to no effect on subsequent stories. X-Men was the first to create continuity between the episodes creating a larger story. Besides multi-part stories like Days of Future Past and The Phoenix Saga, the show had story threads that continued throughout the seasons. For example, the first season had the subplot of Beast facing trial and building up to a big confrontation with Master Mold while the second season had Professor X and Magneto in the Savage Land that was unrelated to most stories of the season.
Meugniot said, "Our goal was to emulate the experience of reading the actual comics, rather than delivering a dumbed down version as had been done in the past by shows like Super Friends and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, and that necessitated more complex stories with drawn out character arcs." He went on to say "Those of us who grew up reading the classic Marvel Comics of the Silver Age understood that the reason Marvel's characters had never caught on in animation as strongly as they did in comics was that Marvel had always been willing to sacrifice their integrity when doing 'kids' shows. The mantra from our side of the table was, 'Don’t betray your roots.' The comics themselves were the inspiration for our serialized format." He cited I, Claudius and Lonesome Dove as inspirations for serialized storytelling.
There were a number of concerns regarding serialized storytelling as it added new problems to the mix. There were concerns that episodes would be ready in the proper order, and in some cases they were not like "No Mutant is an Island". They worried about how the younger demographic would deal with an episode that has a cliffhanger, as well as viewers who missed previous episodes. This is why they came up with the "Previously on X-Men..." recap, which is now a common practice. Julia Lewald credits editor Sharon Janis for those sequences as she had no direction and did them entirely herself.
Lewald said, "The first episodes weren’t even cut digitally–we were cutting film. We would have to wait months to see if what we wrote, drew, and recorded looked right and cut together as we had imagined. We finished the entire first season of scripts before we saw a foot of animation. There was no way to use what we learned in one episode to help write the next one. We just had to trust our instincts."
Mark Edward Edens and Meugniot laid out the thirteen stories of the first season in detail on a single ten-page premise before any writer started on a script. Their goal was to introduce the Sentinel threat in the premiere episodes then resolve it by the end since they were not sure they would get a second season.
Actually, the biggest opposition to serialized storytelling was from Marvel. Meugniot said, "The strongest opposition to creating a show that was faithful to the Marvel way of doing things came from Marvel, which galvanized us into trying to do it right. We knew our audience wasn't stupid and that they were frustrated by being talked down to. Our best argument was that we'd been kids when Stan [Lee] started the more adult approach to superhero stories and we loved it and wanted replicate it for our viewers."
To help the writers create a different kind of animated series the producers sent out a memo to sum up their vision before the show began which stated:
A Forward to Writers and Artists
More than most animated series, "X-Men" will rely on the creative contributions of writers and artists who have preceded the current development team. While we are responsible for the quality of the television series, we will be using many characters, images, and ideas that have been created by others. We respect their work and are heavily in their debt.
The "X-Men" comic book series is a world-wide phenomenon. It represents a thirty-year tradition of story-telling, begun by creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and developed by dozens of writers and artists such as Len Wein, Chris Claremont, and John Byrne. Our ambition with this series is to continue that tradition in another medium, not to change it, "update" it, or pretend that we have found a new way to improve upon it. If you want to know the essence of the show, read the comics.
We do not intend for this respect of the "X-Men" legacy to discourage your integrity and invention. We look on the tradition we have inherited as a gold mine of inspiration, not a straight-jacket. But please remember that much of our audience will know these characters and have definite expectations of the series. Our job, in thirteen short shows, will be to both satisfy and surprise the fans as we introduce the excitement and drama of "X-Men" to a whole new audience.
What is an "X-Men" Story?
"X-Men" is different from most animated action adventure shows you may have seen or written. It is more about the lives of our characters -- heroes and villains alike -- than ingenious plots or non-stop, death-defying physical jeopardy. It's not important whether or not a bad guy succeeds in blowing up the Pentagon. What matters most is how Wolverine deals with the pain of losing a friend while trying to stop it. Use plot to showcase character, not the other way around.
Which is not to say that "X-Men" will lack action, pace, or intensity. We want these shows to move fast and be dense with dramatic crises. Action scenes will play like "Terminator 2" on speed. But more often than not the crisis is personal, not physical. Think of the famous Star Trek scene where Kirk has to let the woman he loves get killed for the sake of future lives. There was matchless dramatic tension created by a man watching a woman slowly walking across a street. The drama was inside the character.
"X-Men" is a show of grey areas. We understand most of our villains, even sympathize with some. X-Men victories tend to be mixed blessings and are never achieved without a loss of some kind. "Good guys" fight each other, have bad days, and are capable of being petty and intolerant. One might even leave the X-Men in disgust and join the enemy.
Through it all, however, our X-Men distinguish themselves by maintaining their values of friendship, loyalty, and personal sacrifice. Whatever the cost, they must do what must be done.
Lewald claimed that without Len Wein the series would not have been made. He noted that the original X-Men comics stopped in the 1960s, saying it was a good idea not quite done right, and it was Wein who revived it in the 1970s, who made the series what it is today. However, he was not involved with the series until after the first season. Lewald hadn't known Wein was in Los Angeles working in animation. It was Bob Skir who brought Wein to Lewald's attention. When he came to the series, Wein was a fan of the series, appreciating that it respected the original material.
Early promotions for the series lacked Jean Grey, Beast, and Gambit. When production started in February of 1992, the producers were told that Jean and Beast were secondary characters as they were less interesting to the core audience. However, as they were writing the first season the producers enjoyed them more and more. They felt that Jean became the emotional core and that, while everyone else fought amongst each other, everyone trusted and respected Jean saying she had a quiet strength. They found Beast fun to write for as there was no one like him. He was the most mutated yet most at ease with his mutation. He spouted obscure poetry but was powerful, agile, and courageous, calling him a writer's dream. They ignored the suggestion to minimize the two. Gambit, however, was simply left off the promotion despite always being intended to be featured from the beginning.
The entire cast was chosen and recorded in Canada as Fox Kids had had luck there with Beetlejuice. It was also cheaper when dealing with residual payments as Canadian voice actors are not paid for reruns but American actors are paid each time the episode airs. Unfortunately, the first recordings came back very young and cartoonish. Since no one had done a serious animated show like this before, the voice actors were simply used to this style. Sidney Iwanter and Houston went to Toronto to tell the casting directors that this was different. They wanted serious, realistic, and move-like. Toronto has a large theater industry and they found classically trained actors to establish a new tone. Casting director Karen Goora and voice director Dan Hennessey succeeded in bringing in the dramatic adult actors for the tough roles as the producers wanted.
As Saban didn't own the property, he was only getting a fee regardless of how much it cost. If the budget went up it would come out of his pocket. He was always looking to economize and often his reaction to creative decisions was, "What's that going to cost?" He noted that it all starts with the script saying that if a story isn't memorable with likable characters it doesn't matter how big of a budget it has. He said, "If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage...regardless of the budget."
There were times when the censors made the series pull back. When the show got close to the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Fox made the series scale back any script that contained a city in flames. Eric Lewald said, "The rules for Saturday morning are so restrictive that to make something intense, with a lot at stake, and people who really wanted to slaughter each other...It was a real balancing act.
The series became a hit but the success was spread over four or five companies all working on it. Unfortunately, Saban cut five-hundred dollars off the script fee for the writers. According to Eric Lewald, his reasoning was, "It's a hit. They want to be part of it, so they'll take less money" as well as "And if not, there's a line out the door of people who will."
Throughout the production, they were under pressure to dumb it down making it younger and sillier, like having a pet dog. Marvel would tell them to put toys in or give Wolverine some Wolverine curtains. The creative side banded together saying they would have to be fired first. They reasoned that a series about serious defenders of right and justice wouldn't have something like pajamas of themselves or special phones.
In order to save on money, the production reused sound effects. The most notable is Magneto's magnetism is the Klingon cloaking device from the film Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
The Beyong Good and Evil story was originally going to be the end of the series. However, Fox ordered additional scripts. Unfortunately, it is unknown who ended the series after that and even the creators are unsure who did it. Meugniot stated the series wasn't really cancelled, as it went beyond the originally intended sixty-five episodes of the original order, but was more likely it fulfilled the contract.
Speaking on the series' influence on the films X-Men: Days of Future Past, writer Julia Lewald said, "X-Men was a preexisting property and had taken those risks before. With that, the animated series was able to tell those stories because they were part of the X-Men world. I don't know if any new property could have been created that told these stories in the way the X-Men were able to. Again, there was no talking down to the audience. There was no 'They won't understand this,' no recapping it. Kids got exposed to a lot of important ideas that are paying off now."
The entire cast and crew got leather jackets with the series logo and their character's name on the back. The cast also got framed cels of their characters.
They would throw a wrap-up party every season. The last party was the biggest, going all night and ending up at Cathal J. Dodd's house.
The show featured a line-up primarily of Professor X, Cyclops, Beast, Jean Grey, Wolverine, Rogue, Gambit, Storm, and Jubilee who were all popular in the comics at the time. Morph, while many believe to be original, was an adaptation of Changeling who at the time was deceased and the writers thought of him as a blank slate to do with as they wished. Other X-Men that appeared but were not necessarily part of the team included Colossus, Nightcrawler, Emma Frost, Forge, Havok, Polaris, Cannonball, Banshee, Iceman, Angel, Longshot, Dazzler, Sunfire, Psylocke, Cable, and Bishop.
While developing the series, there were certain characters the producers felt were obvious inclusions: Professor X, Wolverine, Cyclops, and Jean Grey. They decided to pass on Kitty Pryde in favor of Jubilee for the teenager role. Marvel pushed for Gambit as he had been recently introduced.
Pryde was one of the few characters not to make any cameo appearance, and the only major X-Man to not appear. She had been the center of the "Pryde of the X-Men" pilot that failed to take off. Marvel feared the character was to blame and essentially banned her from the series. Eric Lewald said, "The use of Kitty Pryde was a non-starter: She was never going to make an appearance in X-MEN:TAS after the less-than-enthusiastic reaction to Pryde of the X-Men." This didn't last forever as she became a major part of the comics again and main character on X-Men: Evolution and Wolverine and the X-Men.
Beast was one of Eric Lewald's favorites but Marvel voted against him. This is why he was arrested for the first season and sent to jail. However, as they continued writing him the more they wanted to go back to him. After the season, both sides agreed to keep Beast one and he was freed from literal and figurative jail.
According to Julia Lewald, Fox Kids pushed for the inclusion of a strong character of color. "They were very conscious of making the show inclusive without being intrusive about it. Bishop was that." This is why Bishop was used as the time traveler in "Days of Future Past, Part One" rather than the original comic use of Kitty.
Eric Lewald was proud of the number of powerful women on the series and the number of female writers on the show. "We always get crap out here when we're doing shows, 'This is for boys. Don't have any girl characters.' Margaret was probably the main reason. It was her show. Storm and Rogue's toys didn't sell as well. [Usually] they would tell you no matter how good Storm is in the episode, the toys will sell half as many as the male characters. But it was a time when there were no toys selling well for Marvel. We didn't have the pressure from the toy companies."
The series was one of the first to feature a large number of women on the team, with women making up four of the nine members. At the time, most series would feature mostly men with one or two women. Most of the crew were tired of the idea that animation was a "boy's adventure" series or that boys wouldn't watch female heroes. The producer did not set out to have stories featuring the female characters, just that they were making the most intense stories they could. They felt that having mostly men with one or two women would have weakened the story.
The inclusion of the Sentinels allowed the series to sidestep broadcast censor problems. Eric Lewald said, "Thank God for Sentinels, in terms of action, what action we can have." His wife Julia said, "If action's going to be big, it's going to involve Sentinels getting bits torn off and thrown about. You couldn't do that with living things on the shows."
The series contained a number of cameos of other superheroes and villain. These were among Larry Houston's favorite easter eggs. He never added a cameo if it distracted from the main story. However, there was only one he was barred from adding: Spider-Man. He did sneak the character into an episode by just having a shadow and arm shooting webbing. Houston never asked permission to feature a cameo and never stopped. For the first season they were below the radar of everyone's concern. He felt it was the best place to be for everyone involved.
Actor Role(s) George Buza Beast/Hank McCoy Alyson Court Jubilee/Jubilation Lee Catherine Disher Jean Grey
Cathal J. Dodd Wolverine/Logan Iona Morris
Storm/Ororo Munroe Chris Potter
Gambit/Remy LeBeau Cedric Smith Professor X/Charles Xavier
Norm Spencer Cyclops/Scott Summers Lenore Zann Rogue
The actors all recorded their lines together. Lenore Zann compared to a radio drama with everyone in the same room in a circle relating to each other, acting, and responding. At the time, the actors were allowed to smoke in the studio. This became an issue when Catherine Disher became pregnant. Cathal J. Dodd always recorded next to Norm Spencer.
Iona Morris played Storm for the first season. Alison Sealy-Smith replaced her starting the second season and redubbed the voice for reairings of the first. Morris was the second actress to record for Storm. Another unrevealed actress recorded all of the first season. However, she was white and the producers feared a potential backlash should the series become popular. Morris rerecorded the lines and went on to record several episodes of the second season. Since she was American, and would get residuals for reruns, Canadian actress Sealy-Smith took the role and rerecorded the first season for a third time.
All of the main cast reprised their voices for their appearances on Spider-Man for the episodes "The Mutant Agenda" and the "The Mutants' Revenge". This proved a great expense for the other series. Sealy-Smith played Storm for these episodes. For the fifth season, Morris returned to the role as she was already in California, keeping the costs down, and playing Martha Robertson.
Plenty of famous comic book story lines appeared throughout the series such as the Dark Phoenix Saga, Days of Future Past, Kitty's Fairy Tale, the Phalanx Covenant, Proteus, Age of Apocalypse, and the Legacy Virus. In addition numerous episodes featured references to particular comics. In the third episode the X-Men fought Magneto at a missile base, a reference to the X-Men's first battle with Magneto back in 1963 in X-Men #1. In season four, Magneto created an orbiting haven for mutants which was highly influenced by several story arcs in the comics.
The producers chose the look of Jim Lee's run on the comics as they felt he had a modern, sophisticated look to the characters. Meugniot and Houston had been disappointed with previous renditions and it took many fights to get this look. Senior designer Rick Hoberg took an early pass at the looks.
When Lee left Marvel to form Image Comics, Marvel ordered the producers to remove all of Lee's visual influence. Will Meugniot said, "My goal at that point was to do something as close to the contemporary comics as possible, so we started with the Jim Lee designs (among many available). But we had this side-trip of of them because shortly after we started, after I had gotten the initial designs of Wolverine, Cyclops, and Jean approved, suddenly I got a note from Marvel saying, "you have to put away all the Jim Lee reference. We can't do a show that looks like his stuff." They wouldn't say why, but of course the problem turned out to be that Jim and the other major Marvel guys had announced that they were leaving to found Image Comics." To counter the order, Meugniot sent in designs similar in style to Hanna-Barbera Productions knowing Marvel would never go for it. Marvel eventually relented.
The animation was initially provided by South Korean company AKOM.
The production was under pressure to use computer generated imagery. At the same time, there were concerns that audiences might be confused if there was no clear introduction to the characters and their powers. Rather than clumsily introduce CGI into the series, as would happen with Iron Man and Spider-Man, the production decided to end the credits with CGI models of the characters that would also explain their powers.
This ran for eight episodes before ending. It also showed every character except for Jubilee, who was last in the list. Broadcasting Standards and Practices objected to the models as they felt it was too close to action figures, fearing that the show would be a thirty-minute toy commercial. Following their pulling, the end credits featured a montage of clips with the theme song. Later episodes would feature a clip from earlier in the series.
The full credits featuring Jubilee was rendered but only aired in the sneak preview airings of the pilot. Subsequent re-airings of all thirteen episodes of the first season would use the edited version omitting her instead showing the Marvel and Saban logos. No rerelease or re-airing has included the full ending and has only been preserved by those who recorded the original airing.
The series suffered from lag due to the writers being in Los Angeles and cast being in Canada. The writers would send the material up to Canada where people would audition. The tapes would be sent by mail back to Los Angeles where it could be heard and analyzed. Worse yet, it would be three or four months for the animation to get back and close to the scheduled air date. If something went wrong the entire schedule would get screwed up. This is why the third episode aired so long after the first two. Loesch and Iwanter spent millions to delay the show so it would start right.
In 1994, footage from the series was reworked into thirty-second Public Service Announcements. New narration from a main character would would accompany the footage. It was shown between after-school programs. Storm had one about the multicultural world titled X-Men Come in Many Colors, Beast had one about staying in school, and Rogue had one called Girls Can't about what women could do. Eric Lewald and his brother-in-law Russ Wiederspahn, a journalist in Los Angeles, wrote the PSAs.
As the series went on, Saban made efforts to use cheaper animation studios, each coming with various problems. One company caused a two-year delay in the episodes "No Mutant is an Island" and "Longshot". Some of the quality controls were lifted as budgets went down, especially in the fifth season. Eric Lewald claimed that while most of the stories did not become weaker, the animation definitely did.
Like the comics, the show dealt with mature social issues such as prejudice, intolerance, isolation, and racism. Other issues that were handled in a less obvious matter were divorce, Christianity, the Holocaust, the AIDS hysteria, and even television producers themselves.
Even more subtle was the idea of homosexuality in the series. Cable once blasted Pyro for calling him "darling," though this may have been a simple jest. However, more obviously shapeshifting characters also raised the issue of gender identity. In various episodes Morph and Mystique would change forms and flirt with either sex depending on their form.
The producers credit Margaret Loesch for allowing them to deal with serious issues. They were told many times to make it younger and goofier, but Meugniot and Houston maintained the style of the series.
The producers felt that the women were always equal to the men.
The main theme song for the show was composed by Ron Wasserman.
Wasserman had become the main composer at Saban Entertainment following the success of his Mighty Morphin Power Rangers theme song Go Go Power Rangers. The company presented a video cut of the opening and the only note they gave was not to have lyrics, as opposed to the pilot "Pryde of the X-Men". He came up with the basic tempo then wrote the music to match the edits, as opposed to other shows or movies that would have edited to the music. He continued doing side scoring for the series despite primarily working on Power Rangers in addition to his work on Sweet Valley High and VR Troopers.
The song was used as Eclipse's ringtone in the series premiere of the mutant-based show The Gifted. The inclusion started as a behind-the-scenes gag. Showrunner Matt Nix told The Hollywood Reporter, "Honestly, we did it initially as a joke for the cut. Then we were like, 'No, we have to do this.' We were told we couldn't do it, and we basically said, 'No, really, this needs to happen. We're doing this.' It's one of those things where there aren't a lot of those battles you get to win when you're making a network television show, but that one? We knew it cost more money than a regular ring tone, but it's so much fun so we're doing it. Pay the money. I was very happy we got that." When asked if it would be heard again, "It might reoccur! We don't want everyone to just be waiting around for it."
In 2017, a Hungarian man named Zoltan Krisko discovered the series and felt the theme song was similar to the song his client, composer Gyorgy Vukan, composed for a series named Linda. Krisko launched a lawsuit against Marvel Entertainment, The Walt Disney Company, Fox Broadcasting Company, and others claiming that the X-Men franchise had benefitted from the allegedly stolen theme song. Linda ran in Hungary from 1984 to 1991 where it was quite popular. Krisko claims that Wasserman and executives behind the show "rubbed elbows" with Hungarian film professionals during the 1980s when the show was popular. Krisko's lawsuit seeks a significant portion of the profits derived from the X-Men franchise since the 1990s.
Houston initially turned in a version that Meugniot claimed was better than the final version. It contained everybody the producers had intended to show up. However, Fox freaked out worried there would be too many characters on the show. He had focused on the concept of being hunted and hiding, with more moody and shadowy stuff. However, Loesch and Meugniot felt the opening was too slow and not the direction they wanted.
Meugniot redrew the opening scenes settling on the faster-paced action it ended up being. While talking on the phone with Sidney Iwanter, Meugniot began drawing individual character shots. They saved what they could, like the shot of Wolverine slashing a Sentinel and being on top of a pile of rubble, and built out from there. Houston drew the rest in the same style. He billboarded their names and showcased their mutant powers as dynamically as possible.
They ended up keeping roughly eighty percent of Houston's work. Meugniot came up with the name logos flying in so everyone got an introduction. After seeing the changes, Houston got the idea.
Originally, Stan Lee was going to narrate the opening. Lee previously did narration for Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and "Pryde of the X-Men". However, Spider-Man had to pay royalties to Lee for reruns so they would often leave his part out. Eric Lewald did try to make a narration for the opening titles, featuring Lee delivering lines as Professor X. However, the producers felt that the narration as well as Lee's attempt worked. Lewald eventually got the idea dropped despite Lee pushing for it.
OPENING 45-SECOND TITLE NARRATION
ROUGH FIRST ATTEMPT (5-25-92)
EXT. EARTH – SEEN FROM SPACE
The earth turns slowly. Have moody music, portending trouble.
PROFESSOR XAVIER (V.O.) Our world is experiencing a great transformation.
SHOW various action shots of X-Men and villains showcasing their powers, both in battle and in everyday use.
PROFESSOR XAVIER (V.O.) Genetic mutations have caused the emergence of a new species whose members possess powers so fantastic that they challenge the very notion of what it means to be human.
Show various shots of human crowds being scared, getting angry.
PROFESSOR XAVIER (V.O.) As fear of these super beings spreads among normal human populations –
SHOW mutants trying to fit in, being rebuffed, becoming sad, then angry.
PROFESSOR XAVIER (V.O.) – the mutants struggle to find their rightful place in societies around the globe.
Show humans attacking mutants, ending with some fighting back.
PROFESSOR XAVIER (V.O.) But fear breeds distrust and hatred. Mutants are being persecuted. Some are fighting back.
Show X-Men helping humans during crisis moments.
PROFESSOR XAVIER (V.O.) A peace must be found. Only then can humans and mutants build the trust and understanding needed to make the world safe for us all.
Show Xavier, the school, the War Room, Cerebro, instructing X-Men in the Danger Room, testifying in Congress.
PROFESSOR XAVIER (V.O.) I am Professor Charles Xavier. I have dedicated my life to teaching mutants to use their powers to help find a way for mutants and humans to live together.
Showcase upbeat demonstrations of the X-Men’s powers, ending with a smiling [Close-Up] of Xavier approving their work.
PROFESSOR XAVIER (V.O.) The "X-Men," men and women with X-traordinary powers, are my students, my children – my life.
Windup: heroic group shot, pull back to wide vista/sunset, heroic exit shot.
PROFESSOR XAVIER (V.O.) They fight for a better future for all of us. They are the world’s last, best hope.
As with most shows of the time, the series produced a number of merchandise including books and action figures promoting the series. Toy Biz released a series of X-Men action figures, but it wasn't until after the second and third series when the figures began looking like the series characters that the merchandising took off. It was then that Toy Biz found their success for the 1990s.
At one point, a problem with merchandise in Australia almost shut down the series. Someone had made a deal with a fast food franchise to have a X-Men toys giveaway in the country. However, who did this promised that the toys would appear in the series. The producers felt these were some of the worst designs possible and said no. Jim Graziano of Graz Entertainment called Will Meugniot and said, "Look, Marvel is threatening to pull the show from us if you don't cave on this." Then he said, "If you think it's important, we'll back you. But think very carefully, because there will probably be consequences." Meugniot responded by saying, "We can't cave on this, or we are going to have to cave on everything." Graziano back them and after a few days the producers won.
The series was the first part in the interconnected series of shows, dubbed the Marvel Animated Universe, which includes Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man Unlimited, Silver Surfer, and The Avengers: United They Stand.
The entire cast appeared on the Spider-Man episodes "The Mutant Agenda" and "The Mutants' Revenge". Storm would appear during the Secret Wars episodes "Arrival", "The Gauntlet of the Red Skull", and "Doom".
The X-Men and Juggernaut appeared in the Fantastic Four episode "Nightmare in Green". Juggernaut appeared coming out of the Atlantic Ocean, a reference to him being knocked into the ocean in this show's episode "The Dark Shroud".
There were two major errors across the series that were never reconciled.
In the episode "The Cure", Cyclops mentions that he has never met Angel before. This directly contradicts the comic books where the two are both founding members of the team. Later episodes would feature flashbacks to the team's early history showing both working together as the comics were.
The other error deals with Cable. In "Slave Island", he is shown to be a highly skilled mercenary. Then in the second season starting with "Time Fugitives, Part One" he is a time traveling soldier now with a metal arm, being more faithful to the comics.
The series featured a X-Men Adventures that adapted the first season. The series ran from November 1992 to January 1994 lasting fifteen issues.
After that, the comic Adventures of the X-Men was created that further adapted the series. The series lasted from April 1996 to March 1997 for twelve issues.
The series became the top rated children's show on television. The series along with Batman: The Animated Series and Animaniacs also put Fox Kids on top of the networks when it previously had been at the bottom in a matter of months. By 1995, the top ten kids shows were all on Fox including Spider-Man. The producers credited Margaret Loesch with putting every show on that list. The series brought in viewership ratings usually only seen on primetime.
Will Meugniot said of the success, "We found out fast that everything risky that we had fought for (serialization, adult stories, fast pace, serious drama instead of light comedy, respecting the books) worked with the audience. X-Men: TAS, showing on new little 4th-place Fox network, not only premiered in January at number one in its time period, it was soon grabbing over half of the TV viewers in the country, more than the three 'big' networks combined. While we were building our inventory to start regularly airing in January, Fox Kids was taking votes in their Thanksgiving Take Over event, in which kids got to ask for the shows they wanted to be shown on Thanksgiving morning. It was kept secret at the time, but virtually one-hundred percent of the requests were for X-Men. We were validated with the network."
X-Men is the longest-running Marvel Comics show with a total of five seasons and seventy-six episodes, the second being Spider-Man. The two series featured guest appearances on each others' shows regardless of the fact that the two were made by separate production studios. For their initial appearance on Spider-Man the entire cast was flown to Los Angeles for recording. Ultimate Spider-Man eventually surpassed the number of episodes in fewer seasons.
In January 2009, IGN dubbed X-Men the thirteenth best animated television series, the highest Marvel animated series on the list and second highest comic book series after Batman: The Animated Series.
Newsarama ranked the series as the third greatest comic book animated series ever. They noted that the series introduced an entirely new generation to superheroes. They also cited the theme son as being catchy twenty years later. They noted the use of complicated and complex stories and adaptations of famous story arcs. They also felt Cathal J. Dodd's was the most iconic version of the character.
Rotten Tomatoes ranked the series among its top one-hundred superhero series with this series at the highest for a Marvel animated series at five with Big Hero 6 at one-hundred Spider-Woman at eighty-nine, Iron Man: Armored Adventures at eighty-six, Ultimate Spider-Man at eighty-three, Spider-Man Unlimited at seventy-three, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes at sixty-nine, The Super Hero Squad Show at sixty-eight, X-Men: Evolution at sixty-six, Fantastic Four at sixty-four, Avengers Assemble at fifty-eight, Guardians of the Galaxy at fifty-five, The Marvel Super Heroes at fifty-one, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends at forty-eight, The Spectacular Spider-Man at forty-six, Spider-Man at forty, and Spider-Man at nineteen. They later ranked it as the sixty-ninth best series of the 1990s.
On the Internet Movie Database it has a rating of 8.9 and 8.9 on TV.com. The series has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 85% with an audience score of 96%.
While preparing for the first X-Men film, director Bryan Singer watched the entire series rather than engaging in the forty year comic book history. Much of the series would follow the major events in the series. Eric Lewald and Will Meugniot were brought in as consultants for the first film. Additionally, George Buza who was the voice of Beast played a truck driver in the first film. Buza had auditioned for a small part before the producers of the film found out that he had played Beast. Being fans of the series, they became excited about including him. Magneto actor David Hemblen was also a finalist to reprise his role. He had to pull out due to scheduling conflicts with Earth: Final Conflict, losing the role to Ian McKellen.
Saban approached Loesch about bringing Power Rangers to the United States. They were both told that they would be gambling their careers if they did. Thanks to the success of X-Men they were able to do it and it became a massively popular franchise. As a tribute, it was referenced in the episode "The Juggernaut Returns".
Lewald said of the series' impact on the films, "The many X-Men movies have carved out their own place in the film world. We believe that the filmmakers have chosen, in their casting and storytelling general attitude, to usually follow our 'serious' lead. No winking at the camera, no 'writing down' to a comic-book audience."
The show was the first to combine Bishop's home universe and the Days of Future Past. He originally came from a world called Forever Yesterday. Bishop of Wolverine and the X-Men and in the film X-Men: Days of Future Past also featured him from this universe rather than his original one.
X-Men, along with Batman: The Animated Series were the first to tell serious adult stories. Eric Lewald noted that before the 1990s there were maybe three or four superhero shows and movies a decade but by 2017 there were three or four a month. X-Men and Batman had much resistance in trying to tell serious stories. Margaret Loesch and Sidney Iwanter stood by them to tell adult stories. Lewald felt the series helped evolve the superhero genre, noting the success of Logan.
Julia and Eric Lewald wrote a book titled Previously on X-Men: The Making of an Animated Series. They released it in 2017, on the show's twenty-fifth anniversary.
- See also X-Men '92.
In 2014, Marvel began releasing teaser images to promote a then-mysterious cross-series event for the comics. In one of the latest images, they teased that the X-Men of this series would be participating. The teaser image showed Jubilee, Storm, Gambit, Professor X, Wolverine, and Cyclops in the style shown on the series, though this was inspired by the comics at the time of production. Though noticeably missing are series regulars Jean Grey and Beast. It was later revealed that there would a multi-universe conflict involving the main Marvel universe and many others.
The creative team of writer Chris Sims, writer Chad Bowers, artist Scott Koblish, and colorist Matt Milla work on the series. In an interview with Marvel, they revealed that they intend to maintain the feel of the time, the voices of those versions of the characters, and the relationships built in the series.
Sims said of the show:
- "I was ten years old in 1992, and that was the perfect time to get into the X-Men. There was just so much going on, and all those complicated stories and over-the-top characters were just so enticing, and not just because they were time-travelers with huge guns and scrappy little dudes with knives on their hands. It was this whole weird, complex world that I wanted to see more of, and now we're getting the chance to go in and make it even weirder."
Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Axel Alonso said of the show and comic:
- "For many of us, animated series based on the Marvel characters, with their exciting and accessible stories, provided a fresh new entry point for a new generation of Marvel fans. Now, through the magic of our digital-only Infinite Comic format, the new Secret Wars digital-exclusive X-Men '92 series will recapture the unique energy of the animated storytelling and continue to grow the legion of Marvel fans."
The first issue was be available digitally in May of 2015 and in print the following June.
On September 22nd, 2015, Marvel announced that the series would be ongoing. Sims and Bowers will return as writers with Alti Firmansyah as interior artist and David Nakayama as cover artist. It will begin regular releases in Spring of 2016.
While promoting Previously on X-Men: The Making of an Animated Series, Eric Lewald gave his thoughts on a theoretical sixth season. "I had honestly never thought about it for all these years, but now that you mention it, an idea for a season just came to me: the five-season series ends with a dying Charles Xavier being whisked away to space by Lilandra, where she can maintain his fragile body, but where it seems he will be gone forever from his beloved X-Men. It's like a death. Season Six could open, months later, with the X-Men in disarray, a few gone, the ones remaining at each other's throats. They miss their leader. Then somehow they are called to, and transported to, an existential crisis on Lilandra's distant world. The team grudgingly reunites 'for Charles,' heads off to space, solves the crisis, and a somehow-healed Charles Xavier is either able to return to Earth with them or, if he can't, his heroic final sacrifice heals the team's wounds and they return to Earth as the proper X-Men again."
In August 2020, Huston confirmed that he was in talks with Disney to do a revival of X-Men on Disney+. At a panel for Wizard World Houston said, "We've had talks, but that's about it. We've made conversation and it's up to them to make the decision, but we've let them know that we're all available for whatever they want to do in the future." He added, "Whatever they wanted to do if we had all the original team. That's what I would come out of retirement for." George Buza and Christopher Britton both voiced their support. Cathal J. Dodd said, "And it would cost them absolutely nothing. Kind of like what they pay now. Lovely series, though. It's nice to be able to get talent like that for that amount of money."
- How ‘X-Men’ Became One of TV’s Best Animated Series (Flashback) at ET Online
- 'X-Men' at 25: The Unlikely Story of the Animated Hit No Network Wanted at The Hollywood Reporter
- INTERVIEW: X-Men: TAS story editor & writer Eric Lewald on X-Men:TAS Book at Comics Beat
- A New Look For Our '92 Team at X-Men TAS
- TV Legends: Did Stan Lee Almost Host X-Men: The Animated Series? at Comic Book Resources
- What X-Men Can Teach About Storytelling at Kate Tilton
- ‘X-Men’ Fought A Battle For Serialized Storytelling 25 Years Ago–And Won at Decider
- Our Creative Intentions at X-Men TAS
- Very Early Team Pose Promo at X-Men TAS
- Casting XMen:TAS at X-Men TAS
- X-Men: The Animated Series Helped Set the Template for Today’s Comic-Book Movies at Vulture
- X-Men: The Animated Series - Where the Heck Was Kitty Pryde? at Comic Book Resources
- Comic Legends: Why Did the X-Men Animated Series Have 3 Storms? at Comic Book Resources
- Character Design at X-Men TAS
- X-Men: The Animated Series and Its Surprising Jim Lee Controversy at Comic Book Resources
- X-Men: The Animated Series - The Forgotten Original Ending at Comic Book Resources
- X-Men PSAs (Public Service Announcements at X-Men TAS
- X-Men TAS at Twitter
- Will & Larry - Heart and Soul of X-Men: TAS at X-Men: TAS
- Two of Our X-Women in Action at X-Men TAS
- Marvel 75: Ron Wasserman Composed Your '90s Childhood at Marvel
- The Gifted's X-Men: The Animated Series Shoutout Nearly Didn't Happen at Comic Book Resources
- MARVEL SUED YOU CLAWED AWAY 'X-MEN' THEME SONG ... From Hungary Cop Show!!! at TMZ
- Comic Legends: Did Stan Lee Almost Narrate the X-Men Animated Series? at Comic Book Resources
- X-Men Turns 25: The Animated Series That Changed Everything at Comic Book Resources
- Would We Succeed in 1992? Margaret Bets the Farm at X-Men: TAS
- Top 100 Animated Series at IGN
- 10 Best Comic Book Animated Series of All Time at Newsarama
- 100 Best Superhero TV Shows of All Time at Rotten Tomatoes
- The 100s Best '90s TV Shows at Rotten Tomatoes
- 10 Things You Didn’t Know About X-Men The Animated Series at Screen Rant
- INTERVIEW: X-Men: TAS story editor & writer Eric Lewald on X-Men:TAS Book at Comics Beat
- Marvel at Twitter
- Marvel at Twitter
- Secret Wars Correspondence: X-Men '92 at Marvel
- Marvel's X-Men: '92 #1 will bring the '90s cartoon X-Men to modern comics at Polygon
- X-MEN '92 Returns As Ongoing Series In 2016 at Newsarama
- X-Men: The Animated Series Showrunner Eric Lewald Gives His Pitch for a Sixth Season at SyFy
- X-REUNION at The Hollywood Reporter
- X-Men: The Animated Series Producer Confirms Revival Talks With Disney at comicbook.com
- Official Website
- Marvel Animation Age
- Rotten Tomatoes
- Internet Movie Database
- Marvel Database
|Marvel Animated Universe|
|X-Men • Iron Man • Fantastic Four • Spider-Man • The Incredible Hulk • Silver Surfer • Spider-Man Unlimited • The Avengers: United They Stand|