Set to an iconic main theme and featuring awesome adaptations of some of the most legendary X-Men stories of all time, X-Men stands tall as one of the best superhero cartoons ever made. The fourth episode of the series finds the X-Men dealing not only with Wolverine's former nemesis but also Magneto's attack on a nuclear power plant.
This pairing gives the series its first great ideological clash between the two characters and even more importantly, for Xavier, the sudden realization that not everyone is willing to go on the same path that he is planning. In a way, this episode serves as the introduction to the Magneto/Professor X rivalry that will continue to anchor the show for many seasons, and gives us our first battles between two pairs of friends-cum-rivals: Magneto & Professor X, as well as Wolverine & Sabre tooth.
After Senator Kelly is kidnapped by Magneto, the X-Men struggle to try to keep the peace when humanity starts hatred rallies against mutant kind. By having Master Mold, who's creating Sentinels, rebel against Bolivar Track, the series introduces the theme of artificial intelligence becoming self-aware.
In terms of escalation, this episode really knows how to deliver as the final stand finds the X-Men battling a gigantic army of Sentinels in spectacular fashion. The episode does a great job of actually exploring Wolverine's origin story, all through dream sequences, and it even delves deeper into the relationship between him and Sabre tooth.
It also gives us a lot of great visuals, from the actual Weapon X costume to the portrayal of the adamantine bonding process. Taking place in an alternate timeline (in an obvious nod to the “Age of Apocalypse” storyline) where Professor X is dead and all the remaining mutants are led by Magneto to battle humanity, it's one of the series most ambitious story lines; one that completely reinvents several characters and presents entirely new dynamics for the series.
They beautifully incorporate some of the X-Men's crazier elements like time travel, alternate timelines and many others, while still tackling serious themes like racism. In many ways, “One Man's Worth” demonstrates how crucial and important not just Charles Xavier is to the X-Men universe, but how even one person can shape the flow of history.
He's influencing mutants like Mystique and slowly building his army of four horsemen, capturing his classic insidious tyranny from the comics. It's an insanely dark episode that also includes some pretty terrifying visuals, like that of a Sentinel capturing a powerless Storm or the introduction of Master Mold.
Following the wedding of Jean Grey and Scott Summers in the first episode and a series of betrayals by former X-member Morph, Mr. Sinister is revealed to be the man behind the curtain. Mr. Sinister has always been one of the vestrymen villains and “Reunion” justifies it with a showcase that exemplifies how his philosophical views effectively differ from the rest of Professor X's enemies.
It also effectively ties Morph's story arc into the grander picture set amidst Mr. Sinister's plans. Based on the acclaimed Chris Claremont run and arguably the most popular X-Men story ever told, this series adaptation of the iconic Dark Phoenix Saga remains the best.
Like some best episodes of the series, this popular story arc knows how to escalate tension: what starts out as a small conflict soon grows into an intergalactic one as even the Shi'AR Empire get involved. What this adaptation of the beloved storyline gets right is not only the massive scope, but also the great internal conflict that Jean goes through while battling the all powerful Phoenix.
Having finally acquired his most powerful horseman in Archangel, Apocalypse sets out to destroy humanity and mutant kind by enforcing his Darwinian philosophy onto those he considers too weak to survive. There's a great point that Charles says about Apocalypse in this episode, opining that, unlike Magneto, he can't be reasoned with because his power is his philosophy; something that may be particularly resonant today.
When Apocalypse gains the ability to skip through time, he sets out a chain of events that affects the X-Men universe in unforgettable ways. In many ways, this is the quintessential Apocalypse storyline of the series ; it fearlessly pushes the boundaries of time itself and runs crazy with it in spectacular fashion.
There's something refreshingly simple about this episode in that it solely focuses on Magneto's quest to destroy humans while also telling a bit about how well he and Charles Xavier used to know each other. After Jean is reborn as the Phoenix entity, it leads to a spectacular intergalactic showdown with the Shi'AR Empire to stop D'Ken from having dangerous power thanks to the legendary M'Kraal Crystal.
There's no arguing that this is a loving homage to Claremont's story; a grand space opera with stunning visuals and a great portrayal of Jean's next evolutionary stage in the form of the Phoenix. This series commitment to stay as faithful to the original stories, as well as ramp up great dramatic emotion, are some reasons why this remains the best adaptation of the groundbreaking Phoenix saga to date.
It is through her perspective that we are thrust into the X-Menanimated universe as the episodes establish the tone of the series as a whole; that is to say, true to the comics with heavy allusions to real-world issues. “Night of the Sentinels” actually does a great job of introducing this world to how terrifying it is when you're being hunted by someone who thinks you're different, especially as seen through childlike eyes.
Again, these are hallmark elements of the X-Menseries in any medium, but it was captured and molded beautifully as a Saturday morning cartoon, without making it too childish. Based on the seminal story arc by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, this superb adaptation gets the tone and visuals from the original source material perfectly.
There are even visuals that are incredibly haunting for an animated program, including Bishop's retelling of the future and showing mutants being led into concentration camps. “Days of Future Past” is the type of story that this show excelled at: emotionally powerful, compelling and complex in tone and character interaction.
Throughout the series, there were a number of solo episodes that took time to explore a few members of the X-Men away from the larger adventures of the team. The Cyclops-focused episode followed a powerless Scott Summers as he dealt with an anti-human mutant group known as the Children of the Shadow that had taken over a Midwestern desert town.
The first season of the series is arguably the best, largely due to the successful introduction of the team and its main villains over 13 episodes that are pretty fondly remembered by fans. The animated episodes featured a dark dystopian world ruled by the Sentinels that have hunted down and killed almost all the X-Men while other mutants were put in concentration camps, which was heavy stuff for Saturday morning cartoons.
We could easily be discussing “The Fifth Horsemen” or “Jubilee's Fairy tale Theater” here as well, but “Descent” may take the cake for the worst of these final few. And trying to shoehorn relatives of both Professor Xavier and Jean Grey into Sinister's origins further detracted from the episode.
The two-part episode “One Man's Worth” kicked off the fourth season of X-Men : The AnimatedSeries and partially adapted the incredibly successful comic event Age of Apocalypse, though it blended the premise with the earlier “Days of Future Past” episode and focused on Sentinels instead of Apocalypse. “One Man's Worth” ambitiously explored a world where Professor Charles Xavier had been murdered by time-traveler Trevor Fitzroy, resulting in a new reality where Magneto led the war against the Sentinels, with Wolverine and Storm working with him as lovers.
On top of that horrible representation of the Brood, Rogue's backstory with the first person she kissed was explored here as well, with that also failing to make much sense for either the characters or overall alien invasion storyline. “Beyond Good and Evil” also introduced new characters like Locke as psychics like her, Xavier, and Jean Grey were kidnapped by Apocalypse.
The problem partially lies with the villains of “Savage Land, Strange Heart” as Sauron, Bandanna and Groks aren't really A-list enemies, and the final showdown between giant versions of these characters seems like it would be climactic, but ultimately fizzles like most Savage Land episodes, except “Reunion.” In the comics, the arrival of the extraterrestrial Phalanx featured a huge assemblage of characters and led to the debut of new teams and years of storylines.
The two-part fifth season premiere episodes featured the introduction of the alien New Mutant known as Warlock alongside Beast, Forge, and Mr. Sinister to deal with the threat of the Phalanx, who had lost quite a bit of their menace in the animated adaptation. Scoot Allan (177 Articles Published) Entertainment reporter, writer, and all-around geek, Scoot Allan has written for print and online media sources like Geek Magazine, GeekExchange, GrizzlyBomb, WhatCulture, RoguePlanet.TV and the Urban 30 before joining CBR, Screencast, GameR ant and The Gamer as a staff writer.
Sure, the fifth and final season of the show was a bit crap (to say the least), but during the course of its run X-Men managed to clock up an impressive 76 episodes filled with mutant action! Below I’ve ranked all 76 episodes of X-Men, starting from the worst and running all the way through to the best.
The story focuses on the mutant, Cannonball but everything else about this episode is instantly forgettable. AdvertisementsAnother Season Five episode, this time set during Victorian London where Dr. James Xavier and Dr. Nathaniel Essex come to blows.
Yet again it’s a forgettable episode, only marginally worth watching for the backstory of Mr. Sinister. Fabian Cortez and Apocalypse are the prime focus of The Fifth Horseman, but neither the story nor the animation are anything spectacular.
The story focuses on a submarine, with the X-Men roped in to save the world from nuclear destruction… or something like that. The Lotus and the Steel are marginally better than all the episodes listed above, but please don’t see this as an endorsement.
Professor Xavier takes on the Shadow King in a battle fought on the Astral Plane. In this episode, Forge, the Beast, Warlock and Mr. Sinister team-up to fight a race of techno-organic aliens.
Old Soldiers details Wolverine’s brush with Captain America in a story set during World War II. The first in a two-part Storm-centric tale which sees the weather-controlling mutant hooking up with an alien called Arson.
Gambit takes center stage for an adventure which adds a little backstory to his past, including details about an old family feud. Omega Red is the villain, Colossus is the guest star, Jubilee is the lead X-Man (woman).
On a skiing trip to Germany, Gambit, Rogue and Wolverine cross paths with Nightcrawler. The episode is pretty middle of the road, but it is good to see Nightcrawler finally introduced into the series.
This episode deals with the passing of Jean Grey and introduces the Purple Man into the X-Men series. To be honest, this isn’t an amazing episode, but it wins points for its ability to show a clear depiction of bigotry in a children’s animated series.
The Shadow King is creating no end of problems in Africa, causing Storm and her fellow X-Men to investigate. Storm is once again the focus of this story, which sees the weather-controlling mutant kidnapped, taken to the Savage Land and brainwashed by Sauron.
A creepy episode with an emotional twist in the tale for Rogue. The luck-empowered mutant, Long shot is on the run from Mojo causing him to cross paths with Jubilee.
Cyclops takes center stage in a small-scale episode which sees the leader of the X-Men fighting to free a town caught in the grip of an oppressive mutant group. Wolverine’s past becomes the focus of this episode, as Logan, Silver Fox, Maverick and Sabre tooth all begin to suffer from mental breakdowns.
The Juggernaut… er… returns, only this time he discovers he’s not the only one looking to wield the power of the crimson bands of Littoral. Corsair arrives at Earth while being pursued by the Shi’Ar authorities.
Magneto gives all the mutants on Earth the opportunity to join him on Asteroid M, where they can live a life free from non-mutant interference. Fitzroy is the villain; the time-displaced mutant known as Bishop is the guest star; and the fate of the world depends on one man.
AdvertisementsArchangel returns with one goal in mind: To kill Apocalypse! Obsession is a great episode, which demonstrates just how much Archangel despises Apocalypse and the lengths he will go to for revenge.
Apocalypse is recruiting mutants to become his Horsemen and he will happily add Rogue to the list if he gets the opportunity. Apocalypse has his Horsemen, which includes Angel who is now operating under the guise of Archangel.
The X-Men find themselves back in space, crossing paths with the Streamers in the process. The Phoenix Saga concludes with an epic showdown that culminates in the death of Jean Grey.
A milestone in the X-Men series and in children’s animated shows in general. The second season of X-Men opens with Mr. Sinister, the Nasty Boys and Morph plotting to divide the X-Men.
Rogue’s origin is detailed in a story which explores her connection to Mystique and Ms. Marvel. This episode would feature higher on this list if not for the fact that the series reached even greater heights from here on out.
The first death in X-Men is met with genuine shock, and it becomes clear this is a very different animated series to any show that has come before. A genuine threat to the X-Men is introduced, signalling the arrival of one of Marvel’s greatest villains.
Bishop and Cable have two different and conflicting objectives, which causes the X-Men problems as they battle to secure a future for all mutant kind. X-Men’s second season begins to draw to a close, with the X-Men gearing up for a battle with Mr. Sinister in the Savage Land.
The X-Men, with the help of Magneto and the resurrected Morph, take down Mr. Sinister in a very strong finale to the show’s second season. The Dark Phoenix Saga kicks off with the introduction of Dazzler, the arrival of the Hellfire Club and the return of Jean Grey.
The X-Men Vs. the Hellfire Club, with the psyche of Jean Grey up for grabs. Jean becomes full-on Dark Phoenix in an epic battle which puts her at odds with her former teammates.
Beyond Good and Evil continues with the introduction of Locke and the kidnapping of Liliana. The X-Men travel back in time in order to stop Apocalypse from destroying the future.
Beyond Good and Evil reaches its epic conclusion with the X-Men, Cable, Bishop and Magneto working together to stop Apocalypse once and for all. The iconic time-travelling storyline, Days of Future Past is adapted for the small screen with Bishop taking the spotlight in a plot that involves an assassination attempt and the threat of an apocalyptic future.
The X-Men and Magneto put aside their differences to face-off against Master Mold and the Sentinels to save humanity from enslavement, death and destruction. Disclaimer: I earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.