X-Men: The Animated Series Review

X-Men: The Animated Series is a 1992 superhero action animated television series developed by Eric Lewald, Sidney Iwanter, and Mark Edens, starring Norm Spencer, Cathal J. Dodd, Lenore Zann, George Buza, Alyson Court, Catherine Disher, and Cedric Smith.  Based on the Marvel Comics superhero team created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the series follows Professor Charles Xavier and his band of courageous mutants strike back against corrupt and bigoted government agencies as well as mutant extremist Magneto.


Positives:

  • Good animation
  • Great voice performances
  • Great characters
  • Great music
  • Compelling storylines
  • Awesome intro
  • Great villains
  • Talented writing
  • Witty dialogue

Negatives:

  • Censorship affects writing
  • Animation a little date
  • Lip syncing is off sometimes

Plot:  Professor Xavier leads his team of X-Men in the never-ending fight to protect human and mutant-kind from dangers far and wide!  The series features some pretty compelling stories adapted from the comics.  It definitely has more than its share of plot twists that just keeps the stories interesting.  One thing I can give X-Men over shows like Batman and Superman are the seasonal storylines as well as individual arcs which helps keep them complex as many overlap.  Among some of the more standout stories are the Dark Phoenix Sagas, Age of Apocalypse, Days of Future Past, and the Phalanx Covenant Saga.  (4 out of 5)

Characters:  The characters are pretty awesome both the good guys and bad and even the indifferent.  The series follows the mutant group called the X-Men consisting of Cyclops, Wolverine, Rogue, Storm, Beast, Gambit, Jubilee, and Jean Grey who are led by Professor Charles Xavier.  Each of the characters have their own unique personalities, ethnicity, strengths and weaknesses, and interesting backstories.  But aside from them individually, it is their relationships that form the core of the series.  They have a believably relatable dynamic that’s deep, warm, and supportive.  The women are more affectionate while the men tend to have small beefs from time to time.  Hell, despite their relationships they have their share of problems.  Rogue craves physical contact but is unable to do so, Cyclops and Wolverine both have feelings for Wolverine with her reciprocating, Professor X has a love/hate relationship with his best friend-turned-nemesis Magneto.

Even with many of the side characters and villains, there is a lot of depth given to the them which further helps keep the series complex.  Magneto is one of the X-Men’s main antagonist, a mutant who sees humanity as unforgiving and embraces mutant-kind above humans.  Despite his hatred for humanity he has a pretty sad backstory and problems in his own life, to his strained relationships with his son, Pietro, and daughter, Wanda, to even allying with the X-Men on occasion.  There are a whole host of other characters that make an appearance including leader of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard Gladiator, the Catholic Nightcrawler, the unstoppable Juggernaut, world conqueror Apocalypse, former Interpol agent Banshee, the shapeshifter Mystique, Soviet patriot Omega Red, time traveler Cable, vicious assassin Sabretooth, genetically altered Mister Sinister, the virtuous Colossus, and many more.  There are bound to be more than a couple of characters for people to like and identify with. (5 out of 5)

Cast: Loved the cast as well as the great voice performances. The cast includes Norm Spencer (Cyclops/Scott Summers), Cathal J. Dodd (Wolverine/Logan), Lenore Zann (Rogue), Iona Morris and Alison Sealy-Smith (Storm/Ororo Munroe), George Buza (Beast/Hank McCoy), Chris Potter and Tony Daniels (Gamebit/Remy LeBeau), Alyson Court (Jubilee), Catherine Disher (Jean Grey/Phoenix), and Cedric Smith (Charles Xavier). David Hemblen and Christophe Britton are awesome as Magneto and Sinister. The casting choices are pretty damn solid and very enjoyable.  (5 out of 5)

Animation Style:  The animation was done pretty well and thought not as refined in more current shows still holds up pretty well.  The character designs are unique and the models are pretty diverse.  I’ve liked the costumes but never really cared for them much.  Almost none of them seem tactical especially when considering the adventures they go on.  But a big thumbs up to the fact that the characters often change their clothes.  Not all the women are shapely not all the men overly buff.  The backgrounds and settings are pretty well detailed and feel ripped from the comics.  There are moments where the lip syncing is off.  (3 out of 5)

Score: The soundtrack is definitely on point and this is thanks to Ron Wasserman, the guy knows his stuff.  The intro song with that strong guitar solo makes for an intense experience.  The series features some extremely intense music for the action sequences, but can become more subtle for emotional and dramatic sequences. (4 out of 5)

Writing:  Gotta give it up to the writing, because it is just great.  The characterization is written really well with some witty banter between the characters. What makes the characters so great is how balanced the characters scenes are.  Every character has an episode, exposition, or an adventure dedicated to them. The action can be pretty intense though the censorship does tend to make them feel watered down. I absolutely do not like the censorship.  The fact that the characters have lasers instead of bullets doesn’t make it any less violent.  Hell, one episode Storm got shot in the gut with a laser and should’ve died because in several episodes Logan takes the same type of damage and requires his enhanced healing to deal.  Many of the comic adapted stories are presented pretty well.  There is also the dark undertones the series touches on; bigotry, prejudice, and fear, and the writing embraces these rather than introduce them then shy away.  The series is written to be quite deep on more than just the surface. (4 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, X-Men: The Animated Series is a just an awesome show and it’s easy to see why it is one of the cornerstones of comic book shows.  Despite little nitpicks here and there, the show is just awesome.  The series features awesome characters, great voice performances, good animation style, great soundtrack, good action, deep writing, and complex stories. X-Men: The Animated Series is a 4 out of 5.

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