Many audiences — even some of its biggest fans — have been disappointed by the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s recent releases. But in a cosmic shift for MCU fans, Marvel fans, AND comics fans alike, X-Men ’97 is set to carry the torch of one of the most iconic and beloved Marvel productions ever: X-Men: The Animated Series.

X-Men in the MCU

X-Men character Charles Xavier using telepathy in Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness

Through the inclusion of mutants in their storylines, Ms. Marvel, Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever all made subtle nods to the introduction of the X-Men into the MCU — something that has been much anticipated ever since Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, and thereby the film rights for the X-Men, in 2019.

All the anticipation was finally vindicated in a post-credits scene in The Marvels, which revealed the existence of a universe that appears to be home to Beast, Storm, and the Xavier school — and probably much more.

X-Men ’97

Beast from MCU X-Men

The success of the Deadpool films demonstrated that the appetite for irreverent superhero stories is alive and well. The success of Matt Reeves’ The Batman demonstrated that the appetite for darker and more political superhero stories (by comparison to typical MCU fare, anyway) is also alive and well.

X-Men: The Animated Series, the iconic ’90s cartoon, is well-known for combining all of these — and X-Men ’97, the upcoming Disney+ animated show, is going to pick up where that story left off. It will even be using the same art style and theme song (most recently heard during the reveal of Charles Xavier in Multiverse of Madness). For comics junkies, there will also be a limited-issue comics series released in March 2024; this series will bridge the gap between the old show, and the new.

The Future of the MCU

MCU Multiverse Saga

Disney recently dropped Jonathan Majors, the actor who had been portraying Kang in the recent MCU projects Loki and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Recasting is one possible option — probably an attractive one, seeing as Kang seemed set to become the Thanos of the MCU’s burgeoning ‘Multiverse Saga’, successor to the Infinity Saga. But, that could leave a bad taste in many fans’ mouths given Majors’ conviction.

Perhaps the only other option is for the MCU to switch narrative tracks and set itself a new direction — something many fans might actually prefer. The behind-the-scenes difficulties such a choice would likely create might lower the quality of the storytelling that ends up on-screen; but fans have had complaints about the MCU’s quality for a while anyway.

X-Men ’97 and the further inclusion of the X-Men in the MCU, fans hope, could provide exactly the springboard that the MCU needs to leave Kang behind and start something new. With its massive catalog of source material — and the rich storylines, numerous characters, and topical themes therein — the X-Men franchise seems to be precisely what the MCU needs, fanning fans’ anticipation.

Leave a comment