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X-Men '97 - What We Know So Far

During the Disney+ Day event back on November 12, fans of Marvel's "X-Men" comics were treated to some incredible news when it was announced that the beloved '90s cartoon "X–Men: The Animated Series" would be revived on Disney+, rebranded as  "X-Men '97" (via Marvel.com).

The animated series followed the titular team of mutants as they learned to control and use their mutant powers to protect a public that feared and hated them for being different. The series was critically acclaimed for its mature subject matter and storylines, though it did have a rather tumultuous run on the air. According to showrunner Eric Lewald, the network constantly fought against the serious tone of the show, and often tried to force the showrunners to make the whole show more "goofy and childish" (via The Hollywood Reporter). 

When the show began to struggle in 1997 following Marvel's bankruptcy, Saban Entertainment churned out a few low-budget final episodes and wrapped up the series after five seasons (via Digital Spy). Even now that Marvel has taken the world by storm, the "X-Men" franchise as a whole has struggled to stay afloat, due in no small part to the recent box office failures of "Dark Phoenix" and other live-action "X-Men" films.

Indeed, the new series is actually the first "X-Men" project that Disney will be producing after their acquisition of 20th Century Fox back in 2019 — another reason why it was one of the biggest announcements to come out of Disney+ Day. Here's everything we know so far about "X-Men '97."

When will X-Men '97 be released?

While we haven't been given a concrete release date yet, what we do know is that the series is slated to arrive on Disney+ in 2023, a good 31 years after the original series first released back in 1992 (via Twitter).

Having a release date set a whole two years away may take the rug out from beneath some fans excited to see the series' return, but it's not unusual considering the time it normally takes to produce animated series. A typical half-hour episode of animated television can take up to nine months to record and animate, and when a studio is working on multiple episodes in the same season, the development time for an animated series can really start to pile up, as noted by How Stuff Works

As of right now, we also don't have any information regarding how many episodes will be in the new series' first season. So while the new series is certainly one of the most highly-anticipated projects announced on Disney+ Day, it could be a long time before we see the X-Men again in cartoon form.

Which characters will be returning on X-Men '97?

One of the most exciting aspects of "X-Men '97" is the fact that most of the original "X-Men: The Animated Series" cast will be returning in the new series.

Characters confirmed to have returning voice actors include series staples like Wolverine (Cal Dodd), Rogue (Lenore Zann), Beast (George Buza), and Nightcrawler (Adrian Hough). The voice actors for Storm (Alison Sealey-Smith), Gambit (Chris Potter), Jean Grey (Catherine Disher), and Mister Sinister (Chris Britton) are also set to return, alongside newer cast members like prolific video game voice actor Jennifer Hale (via The Wrap).

Other characters confirmed to be returning include Jubilee and Cyclops, and according to Brad Winderbau, head of Streaming, Television, and Animation at Marvel Studios, the characters will all look pretty similar to how they did in the original series.

In a recent appearance on the "This Week in Marvel" podcast, Winderbaum said the series is "an amazing first step to reintroduce audiences to the X-Men with a look at one of the most pinnacle eras of the X-Men comics, which was the '90s." "That iconic style that has its roots in Chris Claremont, and is celebrated in Jim Lee, and then again in "The Animated Series."

What will be the plot of X-Men '97?

In their announcement, Marvel offered only a brief synopsis of what fans could expect in the series, explaining that the series would follow "an impactful event in "X-Men '97" that will launch the reunited X-Men into an all-new chapter that will resonate with fans of the original series," as noted by WDW Magazine.

When last we saw the X-Men in "The Animated Series," they had brokered an uneasy alliance with Magneto, following a storyline where Professor X had fallen ill and was taken to the Shi'Ar empire to find a cure. With such an open-ended series finale, the plot opportunities are endless. The announcement's reference to "the reunited X-Men" seems to imply some sort of rift within the group. What happened to split the team up? What could this major event be, which would force our heroes to reunite once again?

While we'll have to wait for all these questions to be answered, one thing is for certain: the show will still have the foundation of the beloved original series to build upon, and as long as they stay true to their roots, the series has the potential to be a smash success.