Marvel's X-Men Reboot Should Bring X-Men '97 to the Live-Action MCU

X-Men '97 has given fans a blueprint for everything the MCU X-Men reboot needs to be - so why not just bring the animated series to live-action?

X-Men '97 is officially a major hit for Marvel animation and Disney+ – but more than that, the continuation of X-Men: The Animated Series has done something nearly impossible: recapturing some beloved nostalgia while still adding a modern flavor to the content and wading out to the deepest, geekiest waters of X-Men comic book lore. 

...And that's exactly the combination of things we need to see from the Marvel Cinematic Universe reboot of the X-Men! 

The debut of X-Men '97 and its popularity has been a testing run for the modern Marvel fandom. Thanks to the MCU, an entire generation (or more) has grown up with an image of "The Marvel Universe" that does not include the X-Men. Kids who know of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Spider-Man, and the larger Avengers team as the main heroes of the MCU – easily discernable as heroic figures standing against evil. It's a superhero movie/TV show formula that's been easy to digest but has rarely challenged viewers on any serious socio-political-philosophical level. 

(Photo: Disney+)

The X-Men Universe has always been the corner of the Marvel franchise that's most directly connected to serious social issues (race, sexuality, diversity) and politics. It's been one of the biggest concerns about X-Men coming to the MCU: whether Disney and Marvel Studios would be able to fit the serious subtext of the characters and their world into the "fun" and "spectacle" of an MCU project. Well, X-Men '97 is providing it can be done  – at least on the animated level. Many MCU fans that didn't watch the original X-Men: TAS are now coming to X-Men '97 and getting to see the comic-accurate version of the X-Men for the first time (the Fox movies were big departures...) and its seems they are really digging it. 

The most striking distinction MCU fans seem to notice while watching X-Men '97 is the family dynamic of the group and the almost soap opera-level drama that constantly happening between them. Whether it's the romantic entanglements (Cyclops-Madelyne Pryor-Jean Grey-Wolverine-Morph; (Gambit-Rogue-Magneto), or the powerful socio-political parallels (rise of extremist groups, genocide, insurrection, debates on imperialism vs terrorism, etc.), X-Men '97 is cooking on a level of seriousness and resonance that most MCU content simply is not – and if the live-action version of X-Men hopes to distinguish itself from both The Avengers franchise and the previous era of Fox X-men movies, it needs to do the same. 

That said: X-Men '97's seriousness has not sacrificed one bit of the colorful, campy, geeky goodness of the X-Men comics – and the live-action MCU version needs to strike the same balance, so that the X-Men actually fit into a universe where the Avengers exist. While modern X-Men comics (the Krakoa Era) have their appeal, the aesthetic and vibe of the animated X-Men has always had greater mass appeal – and it's clear that Marvel Studios knows it. 

(Photo: Marvel)

Films like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and The Marvels have made it a point to use X-Men: The Animated Series as the source material being adapted into live-action. Whether it was an appearance by Patrick Stewart's Prof. X clearly in costume as the animated version of Xavier (and theme music to match), or a Marvels post-credit scene that clearly had the Animated Series' Beast and X-Mansion, fans have been overwhelmingly pleased to see the animated version getting shown love in the MCU.

So why stop there? 

The "Multiverse Saga" storyline of the MCU allows every opportunity for the franchise to literally bring the world of X-Men '97 directly into the MCU franchise, before, during or after a culminating event like "Secret Wars." The '97 X-Men would be a welcome faction in the battle royale between different Marvel movie realities (and franchises) – and if that's what Marvel Studios has planned, it would be even smarter to use X-Men '97 as a sort of Trojan Horse to soft launch the X-Men Universe that's coming to the MCU

And if that's not the plan – maybe it should be. X-Men '97 is clearly striking a major chord – so why should Marvel Studios change the tune for the live-action version? 

X-Men '97 is streaming on Disney+.