Previously on X-Men, we were introduced to the team and world through the two-part debut “Night of the Sentinels.” Many of us were anticipating this series before it even debuted but a large part of the audience came in with these third and fourth episodes. Thankfully, X-Men: The Animated Series helped to pioneer the “previously on” trope, which had been used previously but would become much more prominent in later years, most notably on the LOST television series. X-Men: The Animated Series runs at a fast pace in these introductory episodes as it introduces the key players but it does a fantastic job. There’s a lot to dissect, but here are five thoughts on “Enter Magneto” and “Deadly Reunions.” And I hope I shouldn’t need to warn you about a twenty-seven-year-old show, but beware of spoilers.
1. Shades of “Pryde of the X-Men”
Visually there is a good bit carried over here from the initial failed X-Men pilot “Pryde of the X-Men.” An obvious thematic carryover would be the audience’s window into the world being Jubilee, which replaces Kitty Pryde from the previous attempt to launch a series. But much of the visuals are rehashed here when Magneto attempts to liberate Beast from incarceration.From Magneto apparently aping Havok’s powers to break down fences–which he could have flown over anyway–to pulling apart the tanks, much of this feels reused. For years, Magneto’s powers have been ill-defined through artistic representation but these episodes are amusing from the introductory scenes to Magneto repelling Rogue and Storm by will because…reasons.
2. Mutant Supremacy
A short few years ago Magneto was placed on a variant cover for the ‘Secret Empire’ event from Marvel. This cover met a significant backlash that was wrapped up in an already contentious situation involving Captain America being an agent of Hydra, and thus, a “Nazi.” A number of fans took offense to this given that Erik Lensherr is a Jewish character and was subjected to the tortures of internment in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. This outcry completely missed the point of Magneto’s entire character, though. Magneto is a Jewish man who, after being subjected to the horrors of the Third Reich, came to be the very monster that tortured him initially. His vision of Homo Superior being dominant is a form of eugenics and racial supremacy that is a reflection of the oppression he once faced.X-Men: The Animated Series handles this deftly in showing that he has become the very monster he was tormented by.
3. Almost as Good as Liev Schreiber
The introduction of Sabretooth, as portrayed by Don Francks, is handled quite well. There’s a juxtaposition of views on handling Victor Creed between Logan and Xavier, but Storm notes that they thought the very same of Wolverine when Creed’s rage and violence is pointed out. While he is a plant, the show does a fantastic job of showing Xavier’s desire to help all mutants, no matter how far gone they may seem. Creed may turn out to be a villain, but Charles attempting to rehabilitate him strikes at the very heart of what makes each of these characters.
4. Storm’s Claustrophobia
This show took such great pains to be accurate to the comics. While it may have made some odd choices, like having the team not know about Magneto until his animated introduction, it is consistently bringing canon elements of the comics into the mainstream. One of these elements is Storm’s claustrophobia. Ororo is debilitated by this affliction due to childhood trauma and it shows up in “Deadly Reunions” as a brick wall is brought down upon her. It may seem like a small bit, but these are the moments that truly make X-Men: Thank God Its Not Origins Wolverine.
5. All Those Easter Eggs
Speaking of nods to the original comics, this series features it in droves. The launch site Magneto attacks in “Enter Magneto” is a Department H facility, where Wolverine was originally employed. Cameron Hodge is also present as Beast’s lawyer. And in the sequence where Xavier offers some telepathic therapy to Sabretooth, we see Deadpool, Maverick, and a number of other Weapon X related characters that have no major relevance to the story but offer an “awww yeahhhh” moment for anyone familiar with the original characters before watching this adaptation. Reviewing this series is a treat, being a 90s kid who grew up watching it. I have rewatched these episodes multiple times over the years but I cannot thank Multiversity enough for allowing me the opportunity to write about it weekly. Tune in next week, and EXCELSIOR!