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Friday, January 29, 2010

An Aimless X-Men Animated Series Hate Rant

I realize that I've been pretty much blogging steadily about X-Men for like close to a month now. I DO intend to blog about other things eventually, but I'm having fun with it. Also, I got to thinking about something:

I hate the 90s X-Men cartoon with a passion.

I mean, I shouldn't. Like many people my age, it was my first exposure to the characters. And I have to admit that they haven't done a terrible job in translating like ten issue long storyarcs to a couple of episodes (though I still say they lost a lot of the nuance/emotion in the process.) And the voice acting was no worse than most 90s shows.

But it made a generation of girls inexplicably adore Gambit and I can't forgive that.

I mean really, most female fans I know who like Gambit like him because they saw him in the cartoon first. And granted, the cartoon version is slightly more tolerable than the comics version, but he's still annoying as get out.

Actually though, what I really hate is what the show did to poor Jean Grey. I was really surprised when I started to read X-comics and realized I actually LIKED Jean. A lot. She's reasonably calm, competent, and generally nice, sure. But she's also got a pretty nasty temper. She's got bitchy moments. She's got self-centered moments (a LOT of them). She's got flaws and she's got fire. And that's awesome!

But the cartoon version was just so BORING. The voice acting didn't help what with the slow, ponderous way she talked, which leeched all personality out of her. She basically was more memorable as a cypher for Scott to have boring dates with and Wolverine to moon over. Even the Dark Phoenix arc, which should have been AWESOME was pretty boring. Yeesh. (Granted: better than the movie!)

Wolverine was also botched. But I can't be too irked about that, because he's botched the same way he always is. Every non-comic medium plays up his sheer and utter badassery, ignoring the fact that in the comics...well, he kind of sucks! He loses more fights than he actually wins! But in every other version, he's a total badass. SCOFF!

Also there was the point in the Morlock episode where he contemplated killing an unconscious Scott, and well. Look. I bitch about the guy a lot. But he's SUPPOSED to be an honorable fellow. It's like one of his core characteristics! It was kind of funny that he decided not to kill him because it'd make Jean cry, but REALLY now.

Though I did like the WWII flashback crossover with Cap. Because holy christ, Wolverine was the WORST SPY EVER. So utterly incompetent. Also, it had an unlabeled Howling Commando cameo and that was awesome.

There WERE some good portrayals though: I can't complain about Jubilee, Beast, Nightcrawler, Rogue (though she was dim enough to give Cyclops CPR. Even granting the energy drain didn't kill him, she ended up with uncontrollable eye beams slowing down her ability to get him to help. Dipshit.)

Cyclops was basically a block of wood, but that IS a legitimate aspect of his personality, so I won't bitch about that. Besides, even as a kid I liked him best. :-) (I like 'em uptight!) And Xavier wasn't enough of a bastard, but it's a kid show, so I'll go with it.

The show also adapted comic arcs in ways that somehow LOST all emotional impact. I mean, take the Morlock story. I don't disapprove of replacing Warren with Scott (as Scott really is the closest to a man-pretty character in the regular animated cast) but so much nuance and triumph in Storm's victory is lost! Or Cyclops's (first, not the one I keep linking) confrontation with Corsair! They took a fairly decently written (if rife with Claremontian dialogue) conflict and reduced it to a half hour of Scott shouting.

And don't get me STARTED on the Phoenix/Dark Phoenix arc. Hmph.

I do suppose it was a good and effective means to intro new fans to the comic series, but I can never forgive a series that makes Jean boring and Gambit actually appealing! Ick!


  • At January 30, 2010 7:48 AM, Blogger notintheface said…

    Ah, I liked the cartoon better than you did. I was impressed that they were able to make some of the more complex time-travel stuff palatable. And later on there were some nice little touches in the art, like making Ben Reilly one of the rebel heroes in one of their "alternate futures".

    People actually found the 90's cartoon Gambit APPEALING? His dialogue was basically "Chere" this and "Chere" that. And he talked in the third person to an annoying degree: "Gambit love you, Chere!" UGH!

    Although she was kind of bland, Jean did have the occasional cool moment, like when she was "referee" in the psychic duel between Rogue and Ms. Marvel and got all giant-sized on their asses.

    As for Scott, he kind of got the short shrift in the 90's cartoon as far as exploring his personal history. We find out everything there is to know about Wolverine's background, but the show never even reveals that Havoc is Scott's brother.

  • At January 30, 2010 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What I always found funny was that the voice actress for Jean was the chick from Forever Knight. I don't know how I'm going to rewatch that show with my kid without yelling "Scott!" every five seconds.

    It's like freakin' Rocky Horror too. "Jean!" "Scott!" "Janet!" "Brad!" "Rocky!" "Bullwinkle!"

  • At January 30, 2010 9:48 AM, Blogger kiragecko said…

    I'm sorry, you give the voice acting far to much credit. I couldn't get into it even though Jubilee was actually an X-Men (I even read about magic pookas/weasels to get my Jubilee fix). Almost every single voice grated terribly, somehow. Also, I can't figure out why they decided to kill Changeling instead of Thunderbird or someone else who makes sense. Just seems weird.

  • At January 30, 2010 10:19 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Ah, the cartoon. I have to admit that I watched every episode, because at the time I was deep in my X-Men love affair. And I liked the voice actress who did Rogue for some reason.

    But yes, Gambit just makes me cringe.

  • At January 30, 2010 11:37 AM, Blogger Menshevik said…

    Maybe the animated series helps to explain it, because I've never been able to fathom what so many fangirls found so appealing in Gambit and his dysfunctional/abusive relationship with Rogue...

  • At January 30, 2010 12:14 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    I TOTALLY AGREE!! the cartoon is awful! i started reading the X-Men comics as a kid a year or two before the cartoon started. when i saw the new show, all i could think of was exactly what you said -- it had similar stories but devoid of all emotional impact. i knwo it's super popular among the 20-and-30-somethings now reading superhero comics but i think it sucks!

  • At January 30, 2010 12:19 PM, Blogger Marshall Ryan Maresca said…

    One thing most other mediums forget with Wolverine is his whole fighting style is one of high acceptable risk. He fights with the full knowledge that he can take more than he needs to dish out, and that he doesn't have to fight defensively at all. He can fight badly because he knows he'll probably be the last man standing regardless. This is why whenever he is without his healing power, he gets totally hosed; he doesn't know how to fight without it.

    But the 90s cartoon, and most other versions, forget this, and have him just kick ass and take names.

  • At January 30, 2010 12:29 PM, Blogger Seangreyson said…

    Well Jean being boring started before any action even started. The cartoon came out during the period when she wasn't going with a code name, so what did we get in the credits.

    Jean Grey (shrug)

    One benefit of the cartoon however was that it gave us Age of Apocalypse in the comics. The show creators came up with that one, and when they asked the Marvel guys their opinion, the Marvel writers loved it.

  • At January 30, 2010 1:47 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Seangrayson: Them's fighting words. Even without a code name in the comics, Jean did QUITE well in that time period, IMO.

    In fact it was something I was very surprised to read later. I'd expected 90s Jean to be a milquetoast like the one in the cartoon. As it turns out, IMO, she isn't. At all. :-)

  • At January 30, 2010 1:48 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    And I had no idea Jean was played by a forever knight chick! That's...kind of mind blowing!

  • At January 30, 2010 3:44 PM, Blogger Rocketlex said…

    I remember not like the X-Men cartoon as a kid just because, for a superhero show, it was really talky. Even compared to other Marvel cartoons of the time, I felt that X-Men spent way too little time on actual superheroics and way too much time on convoluted subplots my 10-year-old brain didn't care about.

    I remember a while back the X-Men cartoon was rated the most violent children's show on television, and at the time I was just amazed the most violent children's show on TV was so boring.

  • At January 30, 2010 4:34 PM, Blogger Maddy said…

    Yeah, I've hardly read any X-Men comics, but that 90s cartoon defined the characters for me. I'm still prejudiced against Jean Grey because of it.

    Every time she'd start using her powers, five seconds later she'd be all, "oh no! I'm losing power! Scott, help me!"

    And yeah, I liked Gambit in it. XD Jubilee, Rogue and Wolverine were definitely my favourites, though.

    I should watch it again sometime, as it's been years since I've seen it.

  • At January 30, 2010 4:43 PM, Blogger Maddy said…

    Also, Storm! I remember her being very cool in the cartoon.

  • At January 30, 2010 6:07 PM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    Man, I feel old. My first animated X-Men were their episodes of Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends. The 90s cartoon was just one of several bad Marvel properties from when I was a teen-ager. Slightly worse than the Spider-Man one but better than the Avengers related ones...

    Still its crappiness made X-Men: Evolution all the better...

  • At January 30, 2010 7:49 PM, Blogger Seangreyson said…


    Sorry, didn't mean Jean was boring in the comics, I meant that her intro at the beginning of the tv series was kind of boring. Just trying to continue off the earlier points. :)

  • At January 30, 2010 8:30 PM, Blogger Tom Foss said…

    I think the thing I liked most about the X-Men cartoon was the Wolverine/Storm romance, which worked strangely well.

    My biggest problem with the show itself was how convoluted its continuity was (so at least one thing translated well from the comics). Besides all the times that Morph was involved in the plot, despite dying in the first episode, there were quite a lot of episodes (mostly Mr. Sinister ones, as I recall) that started with a "Last time on X-Men" recap which then showed clips from several years ago. That really pushes the boundaries of what can reasonably be called "last time."

  • At January 30, 2010 11:08 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Seangrayson: OH, well then you're forgiven. I misunderstood you. :-)

    They could have done something cool with her intro, definitely. Though I admit, as a kid, I was always kind of curious about why she didn't have a code name.

    Come to think of it, does Jubilee really have a code name? It seems more like a nickname than anything else. It's like, if you lined up Scott, Gambit, Wolverine, and company up in civvies, got their names but not their powers, it wouldn't be 100% certain who was who.

    But only an idiot wouldn't look at "Jubilation Lee" and not figure out SHE was "Jubilee"

  • At January 30, 2010 11:41 PM, Blogger Jer said…

    That was a terrible cartoon. At least the Spider-man cartoon that was on in the same time span was only slightly boring and mildly overconvoluted. The X-men cartoon managed to be both incredibly boring AND incredibly overconvoluted. It was like they took everything bad about the early 90s X-Men comics, kicked it up a notch, and forgot to add any of the good bits.

    I'm not so sure about the Gambit/Rogue fangirl thing coming from the cartoon, though. I'm fairly certain that the X-men fangirl I knew at the time was all about the Gamit/Rogue stuff without the cartoon's influence. Granted it's a single data point since I only knew one X-men fangirl at the time. (In High School - I met more X-men fangirls in college but I suppose they might have been influenced by the cartoon. I tend to doubt it - they were more into comics than animation. X-men and Elfquest - now you've got me nostalgic for college...)

  • At January 30, 2010 11:43 PM, Blogger Jer said…

    Forgot to add - my memories of the 90's X-men cartoon may be highly tainted at this point because I recently watched many episodes of X-Men:Evolution again and damn, that was a good show. I found out that they're all online at hulu and I've been wasting far too much time picking through episodes that I'd missed when it was broadcast. (Like, for some reason, the entire last season...)

  • At January 31, 2010 12:20 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I liked Evolution because they weren't afraid to make things different. But still recognizeable where it counted.

    And I firmly believe that the fact that Scott Summers was actually healthy and sane (if uptight) in that universe was because of having mentor figures who were not Xavier.

    If Logan had just joined the X-Men two or three years early, he'd have had proteges instead of a love triangle.

  • At January 31, 2010 2:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    At this point I remember Evolution better than the original. I really liked it when it was on, though in terms in of plotting, scripting, voice acting, etc..., Evolution probably tops it, or at the very worst ties. Looking at the two series side-by-side, the main problem I have with Evolution compared to the original animated series is that *teenagers* were being to sent investigate mall break-ins in the middle of the night; not the police or grown faculty. In the original they generally made an active effort to keep Jubilee out of the most dangerous assignments, focusing more on teaching her to use her powers and allowing her to be as normal a teenager as possible. The few times they did bring her along (as opposed to being ambushed) they tried to keep her away from the most dangerous threats. And when they did something like let her play decoy to get on the shuttle, it felt more like a sop to her to let her feel useful. It's not inconceivable that Storm alone could have caused a distraction that would have gotten them through security (she had to retrieve Jubilee after all,) but looking back it seems like a well-intentioned (though f*'d-up) compromise.

    And STORM!!! That is the one thing I will forever love the original series for. I don't care how over the top or hammy her performance was, she DID shit and she looked badass doing it. Her other incarnations in WatXM and Evolution were just so... bland and passive in comparison. She's almost never involved in the main fights, and if she is, she's kept on the periphery. Her fire, determination, and sheer, unbelievable badassery are given barely a footnote and passing mention, and I find that a crying shame.

    Though here's a question for you- as long as you're doing miscellaneous X-Men posts, do you think you'll get to the other animated series as well?

  • At January 31, 2010 3:57 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Probably, though I have no interest in Wolverine and the X-Men from the little I've seen.

    I'm okay with Evolution in the same way I'm okay with Silver Age regular X-Men though. In both cases teens were sent on missions that really should have been for adults. Granted in SA-X-Men there WEREN'T adults to send.

    But I did think Storm and Logan at least made an effort to keep the kids safe and on an even keel.

    The rest I blame on Xavier.

  • At January 31, 2010 6:02 AM, Blogger LurkerWithout said…

    The half-dozen or so W&X-M 'toons I've caught weren't that bad. I like that shows version of Quicksilver though. Of the three current Marvel 'toons (Ironman & Spidey being the other two) I've caught its probably the least interesting...

    I've only caught the new kids one once and didn't care for it. But other friends think its pretty awesome...

  • At January 31, 2010 6:05 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I didn't like what I saw of their version of Cyclops. Though maybe that was just an off episode. But as I see it, you shouldn't need to make Scott unrecognizable to keep Logan looking cool.

  • At February 01, 2010 7:17 AM, Blogger K. D. Bryan said…

    Hahaha, the X-Men 90's cartoon! Lord. Professor X sounded painfully constipated and Storm was so ridiculously stilted sounding, it killed me. Oh, and whenever Rogue screamed it sounded like it included every vowel and also "y". Also, Jubilee's blasts looked . . . well, not like fireworks. :P

    Still, for all it's faults, I loved it in it's terrible badness. It let me introduce my friends to the X-Men and explain what was wrong, right and totally made up for the show.

  • At September 03, 2010 12:20 PM, Anonymous Viagra Online said…

    I really enjoy that series, in fact I saw all of then, maybe the art and design of the character is not the best, however the series have something special.
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  • At March 21, 2011 10:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Whatever, the cartoon was great and way better than the piece of turd that was Wolverine and the X-Men . . . UGH! Wolverine BLAH! he's he only character I've ever hated with a passion since he first appeared in print as a matter of fact, yet the fanboys and Marvel continue to cream themselves over that one dimensional piece of shit like he was the second coming of Christ or something, the horribly written/ acted movies made IT's overexposure even worse, as for Gambit he is appealing when written well that is and not just as a doormat for the massive fickle Mary Sue bitch Rogue.-Liz-

  • At March 21, 2011 10:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well dated though it may be, the cartoon was great in the voice acting and similarities to the comics storylines of the '90s and in this longtime X fan's opinion way better than the massive piece of turd that was Wolverine and the X-Men . . . UGH! Wolverine BLAH! he's he only character I've ever hated with a passion since he first appeared in print as a matter of fact, yet the fanboys and Marvel continue to cream themselves over that one dimensional piece of shit like he was the second coming of Christ or something, the horribly written/ acted movies made IT's overexposure even worse, as for Gambit he is appealing when written well that is and not just as a doormat for the massive fickle Mary Sue bitch Rogue.-Liz-

  • At March 31, 2011 1:08 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I'll agree it was better than Wolverine and the X-Men (but the adaptations were often terrible.)

    I'll always sympathize more with Rogue than with Gambit in that pairing though. She might have run a bit hot and cold, but he was an utter douche a LOT.

  • At May 21, 2016 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I really have to disagree with you about this cartoon and Gambit for that matter. FYI, most people were introduced to Gambit in the comics, not the cartoon as he was a character in the comics first in the late 80s. Also, Gambit in the comics never speaks in third person and is a far more serious and dark character. The cartoon portrayal of him is just a watered down version. I also don't think it's fair that you just target Gambit and Jean Grey when all the characters had their faults in the series. But guess what? They're not perfect characters, and they don't intend to be.

    I'm baffled at the amount of comments that actually agree with you. You may not have liked this series, but this was one of the best things to ever happen back in the day. The only X-Men adaptations I was really disappointed with were the movies, such as The Last Stand, X-Men Origins and X-Men 2. If anything, you should be complaining about them. This series was a LOT more loyal to the comics than anything else was. And that's a fact.


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