|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|| Solarman (Failed Pilot)|
The Incredible Hulk (Series)
|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. 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.
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 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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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 show was produced by Saban Entertainment.
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.
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.
Speaking on the series' influence on the film 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 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.
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 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."
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
All of the main cast reprised their voices for their appearances on Spider-Man. Though Morris played Storm rather than Sealy-Smith.
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.
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 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 became the top rated children's show on television. It 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.
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 13th 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.
On the Internet Movie Database it has a rating of 8.9 and 8.9 Great on TV.com.
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.
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.
- 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 Millev 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.
- ↑ A New Look For Our '92 Team at X-Men TAS
- ↑ What X-Men Can Teach About Storytelling at Kate Kilton
- ↑ Our Creative Intentions at X-Men TAS
- ↑ Character Design at X-Men TAS
- ↑ Very Early Team Pose Promo at X-Men TAS
- ↑ X-Men PSAs (Public Service Announcements at X-Men TAS
- ↑ X-Men: The Animated Series Helped Set the Template for Today’s Comic-Book Movies at Vulture
- ↑ 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
- ↑ Would We Succeed in 1992? Margaret Bets the Farm at X-Men: TAS
- ↑ 10 Best Comic Book Animated Series of All Time at Newsarama
- ↑ 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
- Official Website
- Marvel Animation Age
- Internet Movie Database
- Marvel Database
|Pre-MAU||"Pryde of the X-Men"|
|Post-MAU||X-Men: Evolution • Wolverine and the X-Men • Marvel Anime: Wolverine • Marvel Anime: X-Men|