X-Men ’97’s Best Decision Is Not Focusing On Fan-Favorite Hero

By Zack Zagranis | Published

When my kids were little, they used to call Wolverine “X-Man.” I bring that up because, for many people, Logan has become synonymous with the X-Men despite the team’s long history full of varied and unique members. That’s why I’m so glad X-Men ’97 has given Wolverine almost no screen time.

Less Wolverine Is Better

x-men 97 wolverine

I don’t have anything against Wolverine, but if the X-Men were Nirvana, he’d be the superhero equivalent of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

If the team were the Ramones, he’d be “I Wanna Be Sedated.” If Marvel’s Merry Mutants were Fleetwood Mac, Wolverine would be “The Ch—”, eh, I’m sure you get it by now. He’s overexposed, and there are more interesting X-Men that deserve their place in the sun.

The fact that so many people watched the first episode of X-Men ’97 and immediately hopped online to say, “When did Cyclops get cool?” made me want to pull my hair out. Thank god I’m already bald.

X-Men Characters Had Revolved Around Wolverine

Cyclops has always been an awesome character. It’s just that for the last 20+ years, his sole purpose outside of the X-Men comic books has been to cockblock Wolverine.

A whole generation of X-Men fans see Jean Grey as Wolverine’s true love and that jerk Scott as the only thing keeping them apart. X-Men ’97 knows better and, for the most part, keeps Wolverine out of what should have never been a love triangle in the first place.

Wolverine Got Too Popular

So when did Wolverine become the face of the X-Men? If I recall, people in the ’90s were just as taken with Gambit and Rogue as they were with the claw-wielding Canadian.

It’s almost like something happened in the ’00s to shift all of the focus onto Weapon X. Something handsome and Australian…

Oh, that’s right, Hugh freakin’ Jackman happened. The first live-action X-Men movie dropped in 2000, and fans took one look at that absolute hunk of a Wolverine, and it was all over. We wouldn’t see an equitable team roster on screen until X-Men ’97 and its Wolverine-lite approach to the X-Men.

Hugh Jackman Takes Center Stage

hugh jackman

But Hugh Jackman didn’t write the X-Men movies, and he certainly didn’t put himself at the forefront of the series.

We can blame Bryan Singer for that. I realize that out of all of the real-life crimes Singer has been accused of, many of them sexual in nature and some involving minors, making Wolverine famous seems like the most insignificant—and believe me, I’m not making light of any of those accusations.

Already A Popular Character

x-men 97 wolverine

But I also wouldn’t be telling the truth if I didn’t mention the X-Men films as the primary reason Wolverine enjoys the status among fans that he does today. I really can’t discuss the movies without at least mentioning Singer.

To be fair, Wolverine wasn’t unpopular before his live-action debut. He was, after all, the only X-Men up to that point to have his own solo video game—two, actually. One on the NES and one on the SNES.

X-Men ’97 Gets It Right

x-men 97 wolverine

The movies though, really put him over the top. He was front and center in the marketing for the first three X-Men films and was so popular that he’s still the only member of the team to get his own solo films.

And yeah, Logan is one of the best superhero movies ever made. But one can only take so many utterances of the word “Bub,” before X-Men ’97 simply giving a few other mutants some screentime feels like a radical breath of fresh air.

I love X-Men ’97 so far. I love it for the way it tackles modern issues through a mutant lens, and I love it for the way it just “gets” the characters. But most of all, I love X-Men ’97 for having the guts to take everyone’s “favorite” mutant Wolverine and give him less screen time than Morph.

I hope they keep it up for a while.

robert downey jr

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