If you grew up in the 90’s then be honest with yourselves. Seeing that picture made the theme song play in your head didn’t it? The 90’s and 2000s were filled to the gills with amazing cartoons and while we all remember them with a smile in our hearts, we have to ask – Are they as good as we remember? In this section of the Almanac, we’ll be talking about old cartoons and seeing if they withstood the test of time and our first subject shall be the Children of the Atom – The X-Men.
*Because background music makes for good reading*
Now the Fox Kids era of cartoons was a golden age for animation. We suffered from an embarrassment of riches when it came to our options for material and X-men was a great option. Moving past one of the best theme songs in cartoon history and looking at the show from an adult’s perspective, there are elements of the show that almost seem to be made with longevity in mind. However, there’s an equal spread of content that is painfully a product of the early 90s. When we look at the overall theme of the series, it’s clear that this was adult content fitted to a lens that a child could understand. Consider for a moment the struggle between mutants and humans and focus in on 3 groups in particular: Xavier and his X-men, Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants and the human supremacist group, The Friends of Humanity. Now for a child watching this, it’s very clear that the Professor has the right idea. People with abilities shouldn’t be hated for who they are and should instead be accepted because at the end of the day we’re all humans. This is an excellent message for *any* show to give to kids, but let’s look at the real-world example of this struggle. The entire mutants right struggle acts as a parallel to the civil rights struggle in the US with Xavier representing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Magneto representing Malcolm X and the Friends of Humanity standing in for various hate groups such as the KKK. Any show that can take a topic like race relations and simplify it for a kid audience totally deserves accolades.
On top of this, the style choices for the series were beautiful. The costume design was near perfect and for most of us, this was our first exposure to the mutant hero group. Please note, an exception is made for season 5 where production was changed and many strange things happened visually. For further evidence, direct your attention to Netflix. Now while the dialogue is a bit cheesy, it’s to be expected of most cartoons from that time period. The voice acting is almost iconic no matter how over the top certain characters were. Whether it was Wolverine making nonsensical threats, Gambit pouring on enough Cajun accent to flood the bayou or Storm be incredibly overdramatic in using her powers, the lines just seem to work for the characters. And even after all this, we still need to remember the amazing job they did in adapting complex comic storylines that spanned years and coming out with a faithful adaptation. Their version of the Dark Phoenix and the Age of Apocalypse storylines are nothing short of gold and utterly trump the movie equivalents.
So, overall, X-Men The Animated Series totally hold ups today, but don’t take my word for it. The whole series is up on Netflix so go take a look and let us know what you think! Make sure to comment below and give us suggestions on shows to review for next time. Catch you next time – BB