X-Men ’97 Keeps Sneakily Teasing a New Mutant Team

Could a new mutant team be on the way for X-Men '97? Perhaps even a New Mutant team?

(L-R): Bishop (voiced by Isaac Robinson-Smith), Cyclops (voiced by Ray Chase), Magneto (voiced by Matthew Waterson), and Morph (voiced by JP Karliak) in Marvel Animation's X-MEN '97.
Photo: Marvel

This article contains spoilers for X-Men ’97 episode 4.

Rising from the ashes of X-Men: The Animated Series like a Dark Phoenix, X-Men ‘97 has done a stellar job of bringing fan-favorites like Scott, Jean, and Wolverine back into the fray. While Marvel Studios’ producer Brad Winderbaum has revealed that production is already underway for seasons 2 and 3, some sneaky hints suggest that the lineup of this colorful cartoon caper could soon look a little different.

The Original X-Men 

X-Men ‘97 has largely stuck with the series staples of X-Men: The Animated Series, albeit with the additions of Morph and Bishop while swapping out Professor Xavier for a reformed Magneto. Several Easter eggs have referenced both old and new teams, with the season premiere reminding us the current roster is far from the original lineup of Charles Xavier’s Gifted Youngsters.

A nostalgic picture of the “original” team is on display at the school. It shows current members Scott, Jean, and Beast alongside Professor X, Angel, and Iceman. This is a nod to the original comic book team of 1963, back when Beast wasn’t blue and Jean was known as Marvel Girl. 

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Both Angel and Iceman were featured in The Animated Series. Angel left for unknown reasons and was prominently featured as one of Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen under the Arkangel persona. Iceman was sick of being criticized by Xavier and left to be with his girlfriend, Lorna Dane. Her alter ego of Polaris makes her something of a big name herself.

There are plenty of gaps in the story of the original X-Men, and with at least three seasons of episodes to fill, at least a flashback episode would be welcome. Either way, X-Men ‘97 seems to be setting the stage for the likes of Scott and Jean to hang up their membership. 

The X-Factor Team

Episode 4 splits itself as a homage to the X-Men arcade game with Jubilee and Sunspot before flipping the story to Forge and Storm. The latter is currently without her powers and has been promised a potential solution by Forge. 

Forge mentions his shady government past and involvement in creating the mutant inhibitors. A regretful Forge looks at a wall of memories, showing a polaroid of his own time with a mutant team. Forge was part of the comic book X-Factor, and in X-Men ‘97’s world, served as a member of the “Government Team” iteration. 

The photograph shows Forge, Multiple Man, Polaris, Havok, Wolfsbane, and Strong Guy, reminding viewers they were part of a clandestine X-Men spinoff. Similar to the original X-Men lineup, these characters have appeared before and played a major part in season 3’s “Cold Comfort.”

Forge mentions he’s an “old friend” of Xavier in X-Men ‘97, although it’s suggested he’s no longer with the X-Factor. Forge’s polaroid references another split, as it’s missing Quicksilver despite him being part of the X-Factor gang in The Animated Series

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The New Mutants

If the old guard are stepping down, the obvious choice would be to bring in The New Mutants. Like how X-Men: The Animated Series introduced a fresh-faced Jubilee, X-Men ‘97 has focused on Roberto Da Costa, aka Sunspot.

While it looks like the series is setting him up as a mainstay of the X-Men, he’s typically associated with the New Mutants and X-Force. Other members of the New Mutants are already here in the form of X-Factor’s Wolfsbane, while the major addition of Magik was teased via Morph. 

Illyana Rasputin has a minor role as the sister of Colossus in The Animated Series, but as Morph fought Madelyne Pryor in X-Men ‘97’s third episode, he transformed into Magik. The techno-organic Warlock also appeared in The Animated Series, and with Magneto overseeing the New Mutants after Xavier’s comic book ‘death’ in 1986, it lines up with what’s going on with X-Men ‘97

Despite the critical and commercial panning of Josh Boone’s live-action The New Mutants meaning plans for his trilogy quickly fell apart, the popularity of these characters hasn’t waned. With two fan-favorites of the team already making their mark on X-Men ‘97, it’s easy to imagine someone like Jubilee stepping up to mentor a younger class of “new” mutants. 

Not just through its “Secret Wars” crossover of Spider-Man: The Animated Series, the Marvel Animated Universe has always been great at its world-building. With X-Men ‘97 already sparking interest in a Spider-Man revival, its return is also building on its own solid foundations with a whole host of new recruits, familiar faces, and potential spandex spin-off teams. 

New episodes of X-Men ’97 stream on Wednesdays on Disney+.

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