X-Men ’97: Yes, You’ve Seen Nathan Summers Before But Not as a Baby

Who is Nathan Summers on X-Men '97? He's more familiar than you think.

Nathan Summers in X-Men 97
Photo: Marvel Studios

This X-Men ’97 article contains spoilers.

It’s time to celebrate for the mutant superheroes of X-Men ’97. Sure, Professor X is gone and Magneto is the team’s new leader, but there’s still plenty to be happy about. The Friends of Humanity have been defeated (at least for now), their archnemesis has decided to become a good guy (again, for now), and Cyclops and Jean Grey have welcomed a new addition to the family: their infant son Nathan Summers. It’s an exciting time for the team, even if the two-part premiere ends with a second Jean Grey showing up at their door, while the Jean Grey who’s just given birth watches on in horror. What the hell is all that about? (We explained that here.)

But never mind all that: little Nathan is here, but as hardcore X-Men comics fans already know, this isn’t actually the first time we’ve seen a version of Scott and Jean’s son on the show. After all, this is the infant that will one day grow up to become the time-traveling mutant super-soldier from the future known as Cable. Remember him? You should because he appeared in quite a few episodes of the original ’90s animated series.

The mercenary first appeared in the season one episode “Slave Island” in 1993. While tracking a villain named The Leader on Genosha, Cable helped Gambit, Jubilee, Storm, and other mutants escape a slave labor camp where the Master Mold was being constructed. Cable popped up again later that same season in the episode “The Cure,” where he tracked down Dr. Gottfried Adler, the creator of the power-suppressing collars the humans used to enslave mutants on Genosha. At this point, Cable’s true origin was unknown to the X-Men.

Ad – content continues below

His story was further fleshed out in later seasons, particularly in the season 2 two-parter “Time Fugitives,” which revealed that Cable was originally from the dark future of 3999, where a small group of rebels known as Clan Chosen is fighting the forces of Apocalypse. Plenty of timey-wimey shenanigans ensue, involving Bishop, Forge, the Techno-Virus, and more.

Cable showed up on the show a few more times, usually whenever Apocalypse was the villain of the week. But the series has never directly shown Cable’s origin story until the two-part premiere of X-Men ’97, which shows Jean pregnant with Nathan and giving birth to the child, with some help from Rogue. Of course, the fact that a second Jean arrives at the end of the two-parter suggests that not everything is as it seems with the Summers family.

The Jean twist very likely means the show will take a page from the comics, where Nathan is actually the son of a clone of Jean Grey created by Mr. Sinister named Madelyne Pryor. How that all leads to Nathan eventually being sent to the future to become Cable and lead a rebellion against Apocalypse remains to be seen, but you can bet Mr. Sinister will have something to do with it.

For now, we have little Nathan safe and sound in the arms of his mother. But we know that won’t last…

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