X-Men, also known as X-Men: The Animated Series, is an American animated television series which debuted on October 31, 1992, in the United States on the Fox Network as part of its Fox Kids Saturday morning lineup. X-Men was Marvel Comics’ second attempt at an animated X-Men TV series after the pilot X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men was not picked up — though it was broadcast multiple times between 1989 and 1992.
The show features X-Men similar in look and line-up to the early 1990s X-Men drawn by Jim Lee (more specifically, Cyclops’ Blue Team, established in the early issues of the second X-Men comic series), composed of Cyclops, Wolverine, Rogue, Storm, Beast, Gambit, Jubilee, Jean Grey, Professor X, as well as an original character, Morph (an adaptation of previous X-Men member Kevin Sydney). Though they were not part of the team as featured in the animated series, the following X-Men have all guest-starred in at least one episode: Colossus, Nightcrawler, Emma Frost, Forge, Havok, Polaris, Cannonball, Banshee, Northstar, Iceman, Archangel, Longshot, Dazzler, Sunfire, Quicksilver, Psylocke, Cable, and Bishop. Keen-eyed fans may also spot cameos by other familiar Marvel heroes, such as Feral, Rictor, Deadpool, Punisher, War Machine, Ghost Rider, Blink, Thor and you can briefly see Spiderman’s hand casting a web.
A number of famous storylines and events from the comics are loosely adapted in the series, such as “The Dark Phoenix Saga”, “Days of Future Past”, the “Phalanx Covenant”, and the “Legacy Virus”. The third episode, “Enter Magneto”, features a confrontation at a missile base: this is largely based on the X-Men’s first battle with Magneto, as told in their 1963 debut The X-Men #1. The season four episodes “Sanctuary, Parts I & II”, which involve Magneto creating an orbiting haven for mutants, were influenced by several storylines from the comics, chiefly the first three issues of X-Men (Volume 2) and the “Fatal Attractions” crossover.
Beyond faithfully recreating many of the popular characters and stories from the comic books, the series also dealt fairly openly with mature social issues. The ills of prejudice, intolerance, isolation, and racism were all frequent themes in the animated series, as they were in the comics. Anti-mutant prejudice and discrimination was depicted through minor characters as well as more prominent ones, including Senator Robert Kelly, the Friends of Humanity (whose activities and masks in later episodes echoed white supremacy groups such as the Ku Klux Klan) and robotic Sentinels. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Professor Xavier and Magneto, much like their comic-book counterparts, bear similarities to civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, respectively. While Xavier advocates non-violence in the struggle for equality, Magneto takes on a more aggressive ‘by any means necessary’ stance; the duo’s differing views are the source of much discussion throughout the series.
The series also deals with other social issues, including divorce (“Proteus”), Christianity (“Nightcrawler” & “Bloodlines”), the Holocaust (“Enter Magneto,” “Deadly Reunions”, “Days of Future Past”, and “The Phalanx Covenant”), AIDS hysteria (“Time Fugitives”), and even satires of television itself (“Mojovision” and “Longshot”).
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this television series: