X-Men '97 Director Explains How They Chose Those Epic Marvel Cameos

More than just fan service, X-Men '97's many cameos were to "serve the story," says co-director Chase Conley.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for X-Men '97 episode 10, "Tolerance is Extinction — Part 3." The first season finale of Marvel Animation's X-Men '97 had everything fans expect — not just from an episode of X-Men: The Animated Series, but a Marvel movie blockbuster. 

There was a world-ending threat as the Sentinel-human hybrid Bastion (Theo James) tried to send Asteroid M crashing to Earth after Magneto (Matthew Waterson) wiped out the planet's power. There was a cliffhanger calling into question the fate of the X-Men, who have been mysteriously displaced through time. And there was a post-credits scene setting up future episodes of X-Men '97 with a season-ending cameo by En Sabah Nur, a.k.a. Apocalypse (Adetokumboh M'Cormack). 

But the biggest surprises were sprinkled throughout the episode. Over the course of its 43-minute runtime, episode directors Chase Conley and Emi/Emmett Yonemura included a staggering two dozen cameos (see them all in our X-Men '97 cameo checklist). With the entire planet under threat, there was an opportunity to check in on the Silver Samurai in Japan; the Winter Guard (Omega Red, Crimson Dynamo, and Darkstar) in Russia; and Wakanda's King T'Chaka (Isaac Robinson-Smith, pulling double-duty as Bishop) and the Dora Milaje in Africa.

"I think a lot of [the cameos are] just to serve the purpose," Conley told ComicBook. "When we check in in Russia, we have those [Winter Guard] characters. We wanted to show that, especially once the EMP goes global and Magneto does his thing, that we're just checking in all over the world. And then just cutting to respective characters from those places. That was the main thing."


As the Marvel Animated Universe faced extinction, Avengers Iron Man and Captain America appeared as advisors to U.S. President Kelly (Ron Rubin), sorcerer surgeon Stephen Strange performed emergency surgery, and street-level heroes like Daredevil and duo Cloak and Dagger were spotted cleaning up the city streets as Bastion's Prime Sentinels wreaked havoc across New York City. Meanwhile, an out-of-costume Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, and Flash Thompson, appearing just as they did in 1994's Spider-Man: The Animated Series, witnessed the looming apocalypse from the ground.

"As far as going back to New York, how we chose a lot of those cameos, I think we all love the street-level," Conley said. "I've always loved the street-level Hell's Kitchen group of heroes. We got a lot of those in the adaptations already, but we didn't get Luke Cage in there. But we got Daredevil, we got Cloak and Dagger. That was really cool. And just to show that this is affecting everyone, and they're also trying to keep order on the streets from complete chaos because that's actually what's happening. People think the world is ending, or this extinction-level event is about to take place. In typical human fashion, people start stealing stuff and preparing for the worst."

While the X-Men were trying to prevent human and mutant extinction aboard Asteroid M, Earth's mightiest heroes were "trying to keep order, and so that was to serve the story," Conley added. The only hero to receive lines is T'Chaka's Black Panther, whose sage advice to President Kelly goes unheeded.


"I was very happy to get Black Panther in there as well, which was cool," Conley said. "I was like, 'I'm going to board this myself.' Actually, I believe Jaylen Harden did a pass of that scene first, and I just wanted to add a shot myself. I was like, 'I'm going to do a little bit more.' That was cool as well."

All episodes of Marvel's X-Men '97 are now streaming on Disney+.