|Developed by||Marvel Animation
|Voices of||David Kaye
Maggie Blue O'Hara
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||52 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Rick Ungar
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Marvel Animation
|Original channel||Kids' WB|
|Original run||November 4, 2000– October 25, 2003|
|Preceded by||X-Men (TV series)|
|Followed by||Wolverine and the X-Men|
X-Men: Evolution is an American animated television series about the Marvel Comics superhero team X-Men. In this incarnation, many of the characters are teenagers rather than adults. The series ran for a total of four seasons (52 episodes) from November 2000 until October 2003 on Kids' WB, which has made it the third longest-running Marvel Comics animated series, behind only Fox Kids' X-Men and Spider-Man animated series. The series began running on Disney XD on June 15, 2009.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast and characters
- 3 Music
- 4 Production notes
- 5 Successors
- 6 Awards and nominations
- 7 Analysis
- 8 Releases
- 9 Merchandise
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The first season introduces the core characters and lays the foundations for future story lines. Professor X, Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm and Jean Grey make up the original X-Men. As the season develops, the ranks of the X-Men are bolstered by the appearance of Nightcrawler in the first episode, Shadowcat in the second, Spyke in the fifth and Rogue (who originally joins the Brotherhood in the fourth episode) in the third. In the later episodes of this season, Nightcrawler discovers the identity of his birth mother, Wolverine finds answers to his past, Rogue switches sides to join the X-Men and Xavier's half-brother, Juggernaut, is released from his prison.
Confrontations are typically with the Brotherhood, who vie for new recruits with the X-Men over the course of the season. Toad is the first to be introduced, followed by Avalanche, Blob and Quicksilver. The Brotherhood, led by Mystique, are in fact being directed by a higher power, the identity of whom was "revealed" in the two-part season finale as being Magneto. After Cyclops discovers that his brother Alex actually survived the plane crash that killed their parents, they are both taken by Magneto into his "sanctuary" on Asteroid M. Magneto captures several X-Men and Brotherhood members in an attempt to amplify their mutant abilities and remove their emotions. The brotherhood and X-Men show up leaving Magneto and Mystique trapped on the asteroid. Asteroid M is destroyed by Scott and Alex Summers, but not before two metal spheres fly from the exploding asteroid.
The second season sees the addition of several new mutants, including Beast, who becomes a teacher at the Xavier Institute and an X-Man, as well as a version of the New Mutants: Boom Boom, Sunspot, Iceman, Wolfsbane, Magma, Multiple, Jubilee, Berzerker and Cannonball. During the course of the season, it is revealed that the villains who supposedly perished on Asteroid M are actually alive. Sabretooth continues his pursuit of Wolverine, while Magneto continues to work his own agenda. Mystique poses as Risty Wilde, a high school student at Bayville High who befriends Rogue and breaks into the mansion to steal Xavier's Cerebro files. Using the files, she recovers Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, Magneto's daughter and Quicksilver's sister. The mentally unstable mutant joins the Brotherhood upon Mystique's return, allowing them to defeat the X-Men in a battle at the Bayville Mall. Before the finale, a pivotal episode aired featuring the telepath Mesmero opening one of three doors that would unleash a mutant known as Apocalypse.
In the season finale, Xavier rigorously trains his X-Men to face Magneto, pairing them with the Brotherhood. Cyclops, furious with having to work with his former adversaries, leaves the team. The mansion is later set to self-destruct with Cyclops and several students still inside. Magneto, meanwhile, recruits Sabretooth, Gambit, Pyro and Colossus as his Acolytes to fight the X-Men/Brotherhood team. At the same time, Wolverine is captured by Bolivar Trask to use as a test subject for the anti-mutant weapon, the Sentinel. Magneto continues to manipulate events by unleashing the Sentinel onto the city, forcing the X-Men to use their powers in public. Wanda tracks down Magneto and attacks him while he is trying to deal with the Sentinel that is targeting him. The Sentinel is damaged and apparently crushes Magneto as it falls. When the mutants who have not been captured by the Sentinel return to the remains of the mansion, Cyclops and the students emerge from the explosion with minor injuries. Scott throws Xavier from his wheelchair and blames him for blowing up the mansion. Everyone is shocked as Xavier calmly stands up, transforming into Mystique.
In seasons three and four, the show notably begins to take a much more serious tone. After the battle with the Sentinel, the mutants are no longer a secret and public reaction is one of hostility. The show is brought into more traditional X-Men lore, dealing with themes of prejudice, public misconception, and larger threats. As the season progresses, the real Xavier is found, Mystique is defeated, the mansion is rebuilt and the X-Men allowed back into Bayville High. Wanda continues to search for Magneto (who was saved by his son, Quicksilver, at the last minute) until Magneto uses the telepathic mutant Mastermind to change her childhood memories. Scott and Jean develop a stronger and closer romantic relationship (particularly after Mystique kidnaps Scott and brings him to Mexico), and Spyke leaves the X-Men when his mutant ability becomes uncontrollable, deciding to live with the sewer-dwelling mutants, the Morlocks.
As part of the series arc, Rogue loses control of her powers, leading to her hospitalization. During this time, she learns she was the adoptive daughter of Mystique. Mystique, through the visions of the mutant Destiny, foresaw that the fate of Rogue and herself lay in the hands of an ancient mutant that would be resurrected. Apocalypse emerges in the season's final episodes. Mesmero manipulates Magneto into opening the second door, and uses Mystique and a hypnotized Rogue to open the last, turning Mystique to stone in the process. Now released, Apocalypse easily defeats the combined strength of the X-Men, Magneto, the Acolytes, and the Brotherhood before escaping.
The final season contained only nine episodes. In the season premiere, Apocalypse apparently kills Magneto while Rogue murders Mystique by pushing her petrified figure off a cliff, leaving Nightcrawler without closure. The Brotherhood become temporary do-gooders, Wolverine's teenage girl clone X-23 returns, Spyke and the Morlocks rise to the surface, Shadowcat discovers a mutant ghost who is found in an underground cave, Rogue is kidnapped by Gambit and taken to Louisiana to help free his father, and Xavier travels to Scotland in order to confront his son Lucas. The character Leech is also introduced as a young boy.
In the finale, Apocalypse defeats Xavier and Storm, transforming them, along with Magneto and Mystique, into his Four Horsemen. Apocalypse instructs his Horsemen to protect his three domes and his 'base of operations', which will turn the entire world population into mutants. In the final battle, the Horsemen are returned to normal and Apocalypse is sent through time. Rogue and Nightcrawler refuse the excuses of their mother, Shadowcat and Avalanche find love once again, Magneto is reunited with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, Storm and Spyke are also reunited, and Xavier sees his students reunited as the X-Men.
The series ends with a speech by Charles Xavier, who had caught a glimpse of the future while being controlled by Apocalypse. The following future scenarios were foreseen:
- Continued anti-mutant sentiment.
- A reformed Magneto teaching the New Mutants, including a returned Jubilee and Wolfsbane.
- Jean turning into the Phoenix. Had the series continued, the show's next season would have focused on the "Phoenix/Dark Phoenix Saga".
- The future X-Men team, consisting of Cyclops, Nightcrawler, X-23, Iceman, Beast, Shadowcat, Colossus, Rogue (able to fly and not wearing gloves), and Storm. The uniforms these future X-Men wear look very much like the dark uniforms seen in the Ultimate X-Men comic, as well as that of the live-action feature films.
- The Brotherhood, including the Scarlet Witch and Pyro, standing in front of a S.H.I.E.L.D sign.
- A fleet of Sentinels led by Nimrod.
- The last scene shows the X-Men, the New Mutants, Gambit and Colossus (former Acolytes), Boom Boom, Havok, Angel, X-23, and Spyke.
Cast and characters
- Cyclops (Kirby Morrow) is somewhat toned down from his comic book counterpart; he is less stiff and possesses a more open sense of humor. Contrasting with many other incarnations, Cyclops is not the aloof, doubtful loner, but a handsome and confident leader who exudes natural authority, although he is still somewhat standoffish. While the other students tend to look up to him, his competitive nature and closely held temper will get in the way at times. He is the most officious and rule-abiding of the X-Men and the least likely to fool around.
- Jean Grey (Venus Terzo) was "Miss Popular" of the X-Men: smart, athletic, beautiful, well-liked, and the second-in-command after Cyclops. However, she is more insecure than her comic book counterpart and possesses a jealous streak when it comes to Scott Summers. Unlike many mutants who began as social outcasts and came to find their horizons expanded through their association with the Institute, Jean starts out from a high position of status.
- Nightcrawler (Brad Swaile) is the teleporting humorist of the team. The Evolution Nightcrawler is very similar to his comic version and has a friendly big-brother relationship with Cyclops. During his early days at the institute, he was still feeling very insecure about fitting in and compensated for it with excessive goofiness until the episode "Middleverse." Kurt is the biological son of Mystique, but was raised by kind foster parents in Germany (instead of being abandoned by Mystique, she accidentally dropped him over a bridge while escaping Magneto, and when she saw he had been taken in by foster parents, she decided to let him remain with them).
- Shadowcat (Maggie Blue O'Hara) possesses the mutant ability to become intangible, allowing her to pass or "phase" through solid objects at will. She is the second youngest member of the team; her culinary skills are a constant source of dismay among the others. Kitty led a very sheltered life before joining the X-Men and was initially afraid of Nightcrawler's "demonic" appearance, but she has since grown into a very open-minded and worldly young lady, and she and Kurt Wagner eventually develop a very close brother and sister friendship.
- Spyke (Neil Denis) is Storm's nephew, with the ability to project bonelike spikes from his skin. He is the youngest member of the team. Spyke would much rather play basketball or skateboard than study; he has problems with authority, making him the "rebel" of the main team. Spyke and Quicksilver had an ongoing rivalry since childhood that culminated when Pietro framed Evan for robbery. Later in the series, he joins the Morlocks, but reappears as a protector of mutants.
- Wolverine (Scott McNeil), though similar in most ways to the classic Wolverine, has been seriously toned down in violence, has a slightly different hairstyle, and is designed to be more of a role model for the students and appeared more as a "gruff uncle" type character. He is also in charge of the students combat and survival training and is famous among the students for his apparently difficult and challenging methods, as well as his strict and unyielding teaching manner.
- Storm (Kirsten Williamson), like her codename implies, is able to harness and manipulate the forces of nature. Storm can summon lightning from a benign sky, manifest violent storms, call up freezing blizzards and bring all forms of precipitation to bear. She can even harness the power of wind, allowing her to fly. Ororo is known for her calm personality and regal manner, and she was even worshipped as a Goddess in Africa due to her ability to summon the rains.
- Rogue (Meghan Black)is a reclusive, paranoid goth. She has a great deal of angst with respect to her powers, which keep her from ever safely touching anyone. Due to the machinations of Mystique, Rogue initially distrusted the X-Men, but after learning that Mystique tricked her by attacking her posing as members of the X-Men, she accepted their membership. At first annoyed by Nightcrawler's joking behavior, she becomes close to him after learning that she is his adopted sister, and both renounce Mystique for abusing them. The series established no birth name for Rogue and gave no hints to it after her introductory episode. Rogue's mutant ability allows her to draw upon the aspects of another (memories, habits, speech patterns, powers [if mutant]) through bare skin to skin contact. It is uncontrollable and possibly deadly.
- Beast (Michael Kopsa) joins during the second season. Beast is similar to his comic counterpart in most ways, though the Evolution version speaks more casually. He was originally a gym coach and chemistry teacher at Bayville High before his latent transformation into the apelike Beast could no longer be controlled with the medications he had formulated upon first learning of his mutation. This change of fortune forced him to retire and join the X-Men, where he could continue to teach. It was during the initial discovery of his mutation that he became acquainted with Professor Xavier.
X-Men: Evolution featured several songs that were produced exclusively for the show:
- "Only a Girl (The Bayville Sirens' Theme)" in "Walk on the Wild Side".
- "T-O-A-D (Toad's Theme)" in "The Toad, the Witch and the Wardrobe".
- "Who Am I Now? (Rogue's Theme)" in "Rogue Recruit".
- "Wolverine (Wolverine's Theme)" in a promotional video.
- "Evolution Theme (Theme Song)" in the start of the show.
The theme and score for X-Men Evolution was composed and produced by William Kevin Anderson. Several characters had distinct musical cues, including Avalanche (heavy guitar riffs) and Storm (orchestra piece). Others had special sound effects. These include Jean Grey (light chime noise), Rogue (also has a unique, black and white special effect), Magneto, Gambit, Shadowcat, and Nightcrawler. The main theme song was recorded by William Anderson.
One of the main points of the new X-Men: Evolution concept was the design of the new costumes. Early concept art sketches show the X-Men in classic gold-and-black garb. In these drafts, Spyke wears cornrows, Rogue's outfit exposes her midriff, and Jean Grey's costume is the female version of Cyclops' costume. Both Jean Grey and Shadowcat wear face masks, and Kitty is also wearing an orange miniskirt and Doc Martens over spandex. Early Storm drawings show her wearing white rather than black.
A point of controversy was the design of the blue-skinned villain Mystique. Steven E. Gordon, the character designer and director of various episodes, was never impressed with the Mystique designs for the first season. Mystique was originally to be presented as nude (as in the films), but Warner Brothers did not want this included in a Kids' WB! production. However, a short scene of Mystique drawn to resemble her film counterpart (albeit clothed) appears in the Season 1 finale. Gordon stopped directing after two seasons, but continued to design characters for the show. He is most satisfied with the designs of Rogue and Wanda.
The show also contained various pop culture references: in episode 9 of the first season, one of Wolverine's defensive programs for the Danger Room is referred to as "Logan's Run X13", a clear reference to the novel/film Logan's Run. The Rogue/Kitty dance in "Spykecam" was modeled after a similar dance in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Bad Girls". The play used in the first season episode "Spykecam", Dracula: The Musical, is a real play. The song used, however, is an original song made for the episode. The writers of the show have also admitted that they were fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Using Shadowcat as the catalyst, the two shows appear similar: a teenage girl with superpowers fights powerful villains in order to save her high school. Buffy creator Joss Whedon has openly credited his inspiration for Buffy as Kitty Pryde.
Starting with the first episode of Season 4, "Impact", the episode title was no longer aired on-screen at the beginning of the show, and X-Men: Evolution became the third longest-running Marvel cartoon, behind Spider-Man: The Animated Series (5 seasons, 65 episodes) and X-Men: The Animated Series (5 seasons, 76 episodes). Boyd Kirkland, the show's producer, says his favorite X-Men: Evolution season is Season 3. The monthly budget for X-Men: Evolution was $350,000.
The show gave birth to a new series Wolverine and the X-Men, which began airing in 2008. It was not a continuation of X-Men: Evolution, though the same creative team behind the show: Craig Kyle, Chris Yost, Steven E Gordon, Greg Johnson, Steven Blum, and Boyd Kirkland, all returned to work on the series.
In 2012, Jean Grey and Robert Kelly (voiced by their respective X-Men: Evolution actors) appeared in the Iron Man: Armored Adventures episode "The X-Factor".
Awards and nominations
X-Men: Evolution won the award for Outstanding Sound Mixing – Special Class at the 28th Daytime Emmy Awards, on May 18, 2001 and won the award for Outstanding Sound Editing – Live Action and Animation at the 30th Daytime Emmy Awards, on May 16, 2003.
It also won the Cover of the Year Award in 2004 for best animated figure for Beast. It was nominated for several Golden Reel Awards, as well as other Emmys. Steven E. Gordon, the director of this show, was nominated in the Production Design in an Animated Television Production category for X-Men: Evolution at the 2001 Annie Awards.
Comparison with original comics
The X-Men: Evolution series was targeted at a younger audience and as such portrays the majority of characters as teenagers rather than adults like in X-Men: The Animated Series. In the series, like many animated series based on comics, completely new characters were introduced including Spyke. As much of the cast were teenagers, they are shown regularly attending high school in addition to the Xavier's Institute. At the latter, Professor X, Storm, Wolverine and later Beast also acted as their teachers at the institute. Beast also served as a teacher to the cast at high school prior to his transformation.
X-Men: Evolution is set in Bayville, New York, the state established in the episode "The Beast of Bayville", where Kitty Pryde receives a package addressed to Bayville, NY. Furthermore, in the early part of the series (until the end of season 2) most people are unaware of the existence of mutants. Also, the "Brotherhood" team is not known as the "Brotherhood of Evil Mutants" within the context of this series. They are not a team of terrorists or mutant supremacists. Instead, the Brotherhood is made up of misfit mutants who often oppose the X-Men (in physical, social and philosophical realms).
The series was created as a stark contrast to X-Men: The Animated Series. The Series Bible was written by Robert N. Skir and Marty Isenberg (albeit uncredited), who meant to take The X-Men back to their roots as high school students learning to control their superpowers, as when the comics termed them "The Strangest Teens Of All". Whereas the Fox series reflected the then-current role of X-Men as freedom fighters battling persecution and bigotry against mutantkind, X-Men: Evolution used the theme of mutant powers as a metaphor for the struggles of adolescence.
The look of the series was designed by Producer Boyd Kirkland and artist Frank Paur who created new costumes for the X-Men, replacing the comics-faithful designs of X-Men: The Animated Series with anime-influenced costumes which were much more animation friendly.
The first season mainly concerned the characters' conflict with Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants as well as served as an introductory to many of the characters to allow people to get used to these new teenage versions. Later seasons predominantly featured Apocalypse as an adversary, introduced versions of the New Mutants, Morlocks and Magneto's Acolytes as well as posed the U.S. Government as an adversary to all parties.
The series revealed a detailed knowledge of canon history in a number of small ways. Examples include the evolution of Cerebro from a console device, Shadowcat's initial uneasiness around Nightcrawler and Forge's scientific arrogance along with his devices causing unintended consequences. Rogue is shown to absorb Cyclops' powers in the correct manner. In the Fox series, she also absorbed his lack of control over his beams (which was a result of a brain injury, not inherent in his powers). X-Men: Evolution shows her with full control over them, just as Scott would if he had not sustained a brain injury. In "Survival of the Fittest", Xavier says that Juggernaut acquired his powers through mysticism (but unlike the comic, says that it unlocked a latent mutant power), and in "The Cauldron" Magneto develops his mutant-enhancing technology from that same Jewel of Cyttorak (but says that he has found it to be scientific rather than mystical). In "Day of Recovery", Toad is seen to be quite comfortable with technology and in "Operation Rebirth", the POW camp Magneto is held in as a child is visually similar (in the opening shot) to Auschwitz though it is not identified as such.
In addition Beast's origin is almost identical to that of the comic, despite the change in profession and setting. Mesmero is shown as part of a circus troupe, much like his appearance in the "Phoenix Saga". Aside from this, supporting characters like Bolivar Trask, Nick Fury, Captain America, Destiny, Agatha Harkness, and Amanda Sefton were all taken from the X-Men comic, usually serving to homage to originals without necessarily staying completely faithful to their form.
Another difference between the comic and the show is the name changes. Toad, originally Mortimer Toynbee, is changed to Todd Tolansky, and Avalanche, originally Dominic Petros, is changed to Lance Alvers. Both changed names have similarities to their codenames. Also, their nationalities were changed to American from, respectively, British and Greek.
Evolution characters in the comics and films
X-23, an original character introduced in later seasons, made her comic book debut in the miniseries NYX, where her appearance was slightly altered to more closely resemble Wolverine. She received a self-titled comic miniseries in 2005. Much like Harley Quinn of Batman: The Animated Series, Terry McGinnis of Batman Beyond or Marvel's own Firestar of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, she was a character originally created for an animated series that was incorporated into comic book canon. The character of Dr. Deborah Risman which created X-23, the clone of Wolverine, was also created for the show and was replaced with a similar character named Dr. Sarah Kinney in the miniseries X-23.
The comic book X-Statix featured an African-American mutant with the same codename and abilities as Spyke; however, this version of Spyke was not related to Storm, had a very different personality (modeled after popular gangsta rappers), and is a completely separate character. Another similar character appeared in X-Men: The Last Stand, but as a Caucasian member of the Brotherhood of Mutants. He is listed as Spike in the credits, but is not mentioned by name in the film, and has no dialogue. When Wolverine invades the forest base of the Brotherhood, Spike is one of the characters that attacks him, demonstrating abilities identical to those shown by the Spyke character before he lost control of his mutation. In the canon Storm has a teenaged cousin, not a nephew, named David Evans, but he is apparently too young to display any mutant abilities.
Marvel references and cameos
X-Men: Evolution weaves many references and cameos into its show. One of the masks worn by the vandals in the Season 3 episode "Mainstream", bears a suitable resemblance to the classic Marvel Comics monster, Fin Fang Foom. In the Season 3 episode "Under Lock and Key", circumstances gather a mix of X-Men, junior members, and nonmembers into a mission team that matches the original X-Men team (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Iceman, and Angel)—Iceman mentions that this is "definitely the cool team." In the Season 3 episode "Dark Horizons Part 1" when Rogue enters Kitty's room, Kitty is seen sleeping with a stuffed purple dragon, a reference to Lockheed, her purple dragon companion. Also in "Dark Horizons Part 2", Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Shadowcat are grouped together when the X-Men and the Acolytes are separated, a reference to the Europe-based superhero team Excalibur which included all three mutants in its roster.
Captain America and Nick Fury are the only non-mutant Marvel superheroes to appear on Evolution. There is also, however, a small Iron Man reference in the episode "On Angel's Wings", when a sign reading "Stark Enterprises" is seen during an exterior shot of New York City and a small Spider-Man reference when Angel was reading the Daily Bugle, the newspaper that Peter Parker/Spider-Man normally takes pictures for. In addition, Omega Red mentions Maverick and Kestrel in the episode "Target X", referring to the latter as "Wraith". In "Dark Horizons Part 2" the hieroglyphics translated by Beast refer to the Pharaoh Rama-Tut, one identity of Kang the Conqueror.
All four seasons are available for download in SD format on iTunes (Only available for America), being released in 2009 by Marvel. All 4 seasons immediately broke into the Top 10 Animation charts on iTunes, with season 4 peaking at #3.
The first three seasons have been released on DVD. Season 3 was released as a two disc set, while Seasons 1 & 2 were released in 4 volumes each. The fourth season has not yet been released on DVD as of 2013.
As of July 1st 2013, only Season One is currently available on Netflix Instant in the United States.
All four seasons are currently on YouTube.
All four seasons are currently available on Google Play.
All four seasons are currently available on Hulu.
In January 2002, Marvel Comics began publishing an X-Men: Evolution comic book, partially based on the show. Written by Devin K. Grayson with art by Studio XD, it was abruptly canceled after the ninth issue due to low sales. The series has been reprinted in two trade paperbacks.
The comic introduced the Evolution version of the Morlocks before they appeared on the show, and their appearances and motivations were radically different in both versions. It also featured an appearance from Mimic who never appeared on the show.
An ongoing plot line would have introduced the Evolution version of Mister Sinister, but the comic was canceled before it could be resolved. However, the cover of the unreleased issue 10 does reveal his intended character design.
Toy Biz created a line of action figures. Taco Bell ran the first X-Men: Evolution themed promotion with its Kid's Meals. Burger King also ran a Kid's Meal promotion which included X-Men: Evolution toys. Each toy included a mini-disc with games, screen-savers, and a mini-comic related to the character. The lineup included Rogue, Mystique, Cyclops, Wolverine, Magneto, Quicksilver, Nightcrawler, and Toad.
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- X-Men: Evolution "Under Lock and Key" Talkback (Spoilers) – Toon Zone Forum
- IMDb.com: "X-Men: Evolution" (2000) – Trivia
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- X-Men: Evolution at the Internet Movie Database
- X-Men: Evolution at TV.com
- X-Men: Evolution episodes at Marvel.com
- X-Men Evolution at YouTube