How 'X-Men: The Animated Series' Was Nearly Ruined By A Fast Food Chain

Fans may think that Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are the X-Men’s biggest threat, but it turns out that a fast food chain from Australia could have ruined the now beloved X-Men animated series from the 1990s.

X-Men: The Animated Series is celebrating its 25th anniversary today, and Will Meunginot, an artist and a producer on the series, recounted in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter how the fast food chain’s demands to include kids meal toys in the show nearly brought the series to a halt.

“There was merchandise threat that almost shut down the production,” Meunginot said. “They had made a deal with a fast food franchise to do some X-Men giveaway toys in Australia. And whoever had negotiated the deal had promised the Australian food franchisee that those toys would appear in the show. They were some of the most God-awful designs possible. So I said no, and the situation festered for a few days. At home one night I got a call from Jim Graziano, who was the head of Graz, the production company I was working for. Jim just said, ‘Look, Marvel is threatening to pull the show from us if you don't cave on this.’ He goes, ‘If you think it's important, we'll back you. But think very carefully, because there will probably be consequences.’ I said, ‘We can't cave on this, or we are going to have to cave on everything.’ And Jim backed me and it was a really tense few days and we prevailed.”

According to X-Men: The Animated Series showrunner Eric Lewald, that was just one example of the pressure put on the show by Marvel.

“There was incredible pressure to change it around and make it younger, sillier, or give them a pet dog,” Lewald recalled. “To dumb it down or make it younger. Luckily, everybody on the creative side banded together and had, ‘No, you'll have to fire me’ moments. [Marvel would say], ‘Put toys in or give Wolverine some Wolverine curtains.’ ‘No we're not going to do that.’ If you were a 30-something serious defender of right and justice in your world, would you be wearing pajamas of yourself or would you be calling yourself on your Wolverine phone? No, you wouldn't. He's a serious guy. This is not a toy show. Sorry. ‘You'll have to fire me to change it.’"

25 years later, X-Men fans are surely thankful for the stubbornness of the show’s creative team, and so too should all superhero fans. The popularity of X-Men: The Animated Series led to the production of the first X-Men movie, which kicked off the modern era of superhero movies. Today, the X-Men live-action television series The Gifted is still paying homage to X-Men: The Animated Series.