X-Men ’97 Finale Proves This Is Marvel’s Batman: The Animated Series

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

X-Men 97 Batman The Animated Series

X-Men ‘97 recently aired its season one finale, and fans around the world have been amazed to see how well this ambitious series managed to stick the landing. Given how great the storytelling, animation, and voice acting are, I couldn’t help but think of another animated series that forever changed superhero storytelling. In short, this X-Men ‘97 finale proves that Marvel now has their own equivalent to Batman: The Animated Series, and the sky is the limit for what the House of Ideas does next.

Spinoffs On The Way?

X-Men 97 Batman The Animated Series

There are, of course, some surface-level similarities between X-Men ‘97 and Batman: The Animated Series that are impossible to miss. For example, the original X-Men cartoon and this iconic Batman animated series both premiered in 1992, and both shows were so great that they helped recruit countless more fans to these respective franchises.

However, the general consensus (then and now) was that while the original X-Men show was good, it couldn’t hold a candle (or even a Storm-generated lightning bolt) to the quality of Batman.

Now, however, I’m confident that X-Men ‘97 has given Marvel its own Batman: The Animated Series. One reason for this is that Batman eventually launched the DC Animated Universe which included killer shows like Batman Beyond and Justice League.

X-Men ‘97 has been dropping Marvel cameos left and right, and while nothing has been officially announced yet, there are strong rumors that we are going to get an interconnected animated universe of different shows featuring characters such as Spider-Man and The Avengers.

Darker Material

X-Men 97 Batman The Animated Series

Another way that X-Men ‘97 has been giving strong Batman: The Animated Series vibes is that it has taken these stories to some dark places while still retaining the core appeal of these colorful characters. Back in the day, the greatest example of this came from the spinoff feature Batman Beyond: The Movie, which revealed that a brainwashed Tim Drake was responsible for shooting and killing the Joker.

That dark revelation didn’t keep our protagonist Terry McGinnis from cracking his trademark jokes, just as the horrific death of Gambit in X-Men ‘97 didn’t keep the show from finding moments of levity with Jubilee and other characters.

Bridging Generational Gaps

Walking that tonal tightrope is a lot harder than you might think: for example, the Harley Quinn cartoon and The Batman feature film are great for adults, but they had no appeal for children (which is why all those Batman toys became nothing but shelf warmers). A major part of the 1992 Batman show’s appeal is that it bridges generational gaps, blending the tights and fights that keep kids entertained while providing the nuanced and emotional storytelling older audiences enjoy. 

It’s Supporting The Rest Of Marvel

Now, X-Men ‘97 has become the modern-day equivalent of Batman: The Animated Series because younger audiences can thrill to battles with Prime Sentinels while older fans enjoy emotional conversations between Cyclops and Cable or between Xavier and Magneto.

This is especially important because the MCU has fallen off so badly that its feature films only have two gears: broad comedy and crappy CGI. Now, the quality of this latest animated show might just help Marvel survive the coming years of superhero fatigue just as the quality of its animated shows and movies helped DC survive the backlash against films like Batman and Robin and Steel.

Watch Out, Bruce Timm

Honestly, there are more ways that X-Men ‘97 reminds me of Batman: The Animated Series than I can count, including stellar voice acting, vibrant character design, and rich animation. The biggest similarity, however, is that both shows are clearly made by creators who have genuine love and passion for these characters.

For fans of both shows, things are about to come full circle: once BTAS creator Bruce Timm’s follow-up show Batman: Caped Crusader comes to Prime Video on August 1, fans will inevitably debate whether the quality of this new show measures up to Marvel’s latest effort.

I’ve always loved Timm’s work, but if I were him, I’d be getting nervous about those comparisons. The X-Men ‘97 finale pointed out something that the Batman: The Animated Series creator should never forget. Now more than ever before, the cards are always in the X-Men’s favor.

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