- Strategy X
- The X Impulse
- Rogue Recruit
- Mutant Crush
- Speed & Spyke
- Turn of the Rogue
- Survival of the Fittest
- Shadowed Past
- Grim Reminder
- The Cauldron, Part I
- The Cauldron, Part II
- Growing Pains
- Power Surge
- Bada Bing Bada Boom
- Fun and Games
- The Beast of Bayville
- On Angel's Wings
- African Storm
- Shadow Dance
- Walk On The Wild Side
- Operation: Rebirth
- HeX Factor
- Day of Reckoning, Part I
- Day of Reckoning, Part II
- Day of Recovery
- Stuff of Heroes
- Stuff of Villains
- Blind Alley
- X-Treme Measures
- The Toad, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
- Self Possessed
- Under Lock and Key
- Dark Horizon, Part I
- Dark Horizon, Part II
- Cruise Control
- No Good Deed
- Target X
- Sins of the Son
- Cajun Spice
- Ghost of a Chance
- Ascension, Part I
- Ascension, Part II
X-Men: Evolution is an American animated television series about the Marvel Comics superhero team X-Men. In this iteration, some 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!, even though Warner Bros. owns Marvel competitor DC Comics. The story is set in an alternate Marvel Universe.
The first season introduced us to the core characters and laid the foundations for future storylines. Cyclops, Professor X, Wolverine, Storm and Jean Grey made up the original X-Men. As the season developed the ranks of the X-Men were bolstered by the appearance of Nightcrawler in the first episode, Shadowcat in the second, Rogue in the third, and Spyke in the fifth. In the thirteen episodes of this season, Nightcrawler discovered the identity of his birth mother, Wolverine found answers to his past, Rogue switched sides to join the X-Men, and Xavier's step-brother Juggernaut is released from his prison.
Confrontations were typically with the Brotherhood, who vied for new recruits with the X-Men over the course of the season. Toad was the first to be introduced, followed by Avalanche, Blob and Quicksilver. The Brotherhood, apparently led by Mystique, were, 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 discovered that his brother, Alex, survived the plane crash that killed their parents, they were both taken by Magneto into his "sanctuary" on Asteroid M. Magneto captured several X-Men and Brotherhood members in an attempt to amplify their mutant abilities and remove their emotions. Asteroid M was destroyed by Scott and Alex Summers, but not before two unidentified metal objects flew from the exploding rock.
The second season saw the addition of several new mutants, including the Beast. During the course of the season it was revealed that the villains who supposedly perished on Asteroid M were, in fact, alive. Sabretooth, meanwhile, continued his pursuit of Wolverine, while Magneto continued to work his own agenda. Mystique posed as Risty Wilde, a high school student at Bayville High who befriends Rogue, and broke into the mansion, stealing Xavier's Cerebro files. Using the files, she recovered Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, Magneto's daughter and Quicksilver's twin sister. The mentally unstable uber-mutant joined 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 trained his X-Men to face Magneto, pairing them with the Brotherhood. Cyclops, furious with having to work with his former adversaries, left the team. The mansion was later set to self-destruct with Cyclops and several students still inside. Magneto, meanwhile, recruited Sabretooth, Gambit, Pyro, and Colossus as his Acolytes to fight the X-Men/Brotherhood team. At the same time, Wolverine was captured by Bolivar Trask for use as a test subject for the anti-mutant weapon, the Sentinel. The Sentinel was unleashed onto the city, forcing the X-Men to use their powers in public. Wanda tracked down Magneto and attempted to crush him with the Sentinel. When the mutants who hadn't been captured by the Sentinel returned to the remains of the mansion, Cyclops and the students emerged from the explosion unharmed. Scott threw Xavier from his wheelchair and blamed him for blowing up the mansion. Xavier calmly stood up, transforming into Mystique.
After the battle with the Sentinel, the mutant race was no longer a secret. The public reaction was one of hostility. As the season progressed, the real Xavier was found, Mystique defeated, the mansion rebuilt, and the X-Men allowed back into Bayville High. Wanda continued to search for Magneto (who was saved by his son, Quicksilver, at the last minute) until Magneto used the telepathic mutant Mastermind to change her childhood memories. Scott and Jean forged a deeper relationship, while the romance between Shadowcat and the Brotherhood member Avalanche ended. Also, Spyke left the X-Men when his power became uncontrollable, deciding to live with the sewer-dwelling deformities, the Morlocks.
As part of the series arc, Rogue loses control of her powers, leading to her hospitalization. During that time, she learned she was the adoptive daughter of Mystique. Mystique, through the visions of the mutant Destiny, foresaw that the fate of Rogue and herself lied in the hands of an ancient mutant that would be resurrected. The return of the long-awaited Apocalypse saga emerged in the season's final episodes. Mesmero manipulated Magneto into opening the second door and used Mystique and Rogue to open the last, turning Mystique to stone in the process. Now released, Apocalypse easily defeated the combined strength of the X-Men, Magneto, the Acolytes, and the Brotherhood before escaping.
The final (and darker) season contained only nine episodes. In the season premiere, Apocalypse killed Magneto while Rogue murdered Mystique by pushing her petrified figure off a cliff, leaving her distraught son, Nightcrawler, without closure. The Brotherhood became temporary do-gooders, Wolverine's teenage girl clone X23 returned, Spyke and the Morlocks rose to the surface, Shadowcat discovered a mutant ghost, Rogue was kidnapped by Gambit and taken to Louisiana to help free his father, and Xavier attempted to defeat his evil son. In the finale, Apocalypse defeated Xavier and Storm, transforming them, along with Magneto and Mystique, as his Four Horsemen. Apocalypse instructed his Horsemen to protect his four domes, which would turn the entire world population into mutants. In the final battle, the Horsemen were returned to normal and Apocalypse was once again entombed. Rogue and Nightcrawler refused the excuses of their mother, Shadowcat and Avalanche found love once again, and Xavier saw 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. Boyd Kirkland confirmed that the unproduced Season 5 would have expanded on several of these plot threads, with Dark Phoenix being the season's main villain. The following future scenarios were foreseen:
- Anti-mutant sentiment continues.
- The Sentinels attack, led by a Super Sentinel hinted to be Nimrod.
- A reformed Magneto becomes the teacher of the New Mutants.
- Jean Grey becomes possessed by the Phoenix Force and turns into the Phoenix (NOTE: it's unknown whether the Phoenix would have been a cosmic entity or a part of Jean's mind; similar to the movies).
- The future X-Men team, consisting of adult versions of Cyclops, X-23, Iceman, Nightcrawler, Beast, Shadowcat, Rogue (able to fly and, curiously, not wearing gloves), plus Storm and Colossus. The uniforms these future X-Men wear look very much like the dark uniforms in the Ultimate X-Men comic. Only X23, who had a dark uniform from the start, looks the same.
- The last scene shows the entire cast, which includes the X-Men, the New Mutants, Gambit and Colossus (former Acolytes), the previously unaligned Boom Boom, Havok, Angel, and X-23; along with the return of Jubilee, Spyke, and Wolfsbane.
- The Brotherhood and Pyro join S.H.I.E.L.D.
Comic book spin-offs
In January 2002, Marvel Comics began publishing an X-Men Evolution Comic, partially based on the show. Written by Devin Grayson with art by Studio XD, it was abruptly canceled after the ninth issue due to low sales.
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. An ongoing plot line would have introduced an 'Evolution' version of Mr. 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.
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 series in 2005. Much like Harley Quinn of Batman: The Animated Series 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 comic book X-Statix featured an African-American mutant with the same codename and abilities as Spyke; however, this "other" Spike was not related to Storm, had a very different personality (modeled after popular gangsta rappers), and is generally interpreted to be a completely separate character. Another similar character appeared in X-Men: The Last Stand as a member of the Brotherhood of Mutants. He is listed as Spike in the credits.
Awards and nominations
X-Men: Evolution won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Live Action and Animation at the 30th Annual 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 for the for Production Design in an Animated Television Production for X-Men: Evolution at the 2001 Annie Awards.
- United States - Kids' WB!, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel
- Australia - Nine Network
- Canada - YTV
- China - Cartoon Network
- Germany - Kabel 1
- Greece - Star Tv
- Italy - Italia 1
- India - Cartoon Network
- Latin America - Cartoon Network
- Philippines - Cartoon Network
- Poland - Cartoon Network
- Romania - Cartoon Network
- Scandinavia - Cartoon Network
- Turkey - Digiturk JoJo
- United Kingdom - CNX, Toonami
- Belgium - VTM
- Mexico - Cartoon Network
Comparison with original comics
The X-Men: Evolution series was targeted at a younger audience, and portrays Cyclops, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Rogue, and Shadowcat from the original comic book series, as well as Spyke, a new character created for the series. These characters are shown as teenagers attending regular high school in addition to the Xavier Institute. At the latter, Professor X, Storm, Wolverine, and later Beast were their teachers. The first season mainly concerned the characters' conflict with Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants. Later seasons predominantly featured Apocalypse as an adversary and introduced versions of the New Mutants and Magneto's Acolytes.
X-Men: Evolution is set in the generic city of Bayville, rather than Salem Center (though both exist in New York State, and a school bus shown in one episode is from the "Westchester School District"). Furthermore, in the early part of the series (until the end of season 2) most people are unaware of the existence of mutants. It is also important to note that 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 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. 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.
X-Men: Evolution featured several songs that were produced exclusively for the show:
- I'm Only a Girl (The 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 writers of the show have 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 and Shadowcat share similar opposition: first with the school principal and then the Mayor. Ironically, Buffy creator Joss Whedon has admitted that his inspiration for Buffy was Kitty Pryde.
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 shows her wearing white rather than black. Also notable was the inclusion of an original character, who had to be male and black. In pre-production, he was called "Armadillo"; later changed to Spyke.
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 didn't 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 some references to other mediums: the Rogue/Kitty dance in "Spykecam" was modeled after a similar dance in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Bad Girls" and the dance Boom Boom does in the episode "A Walk on the Wild Side", seen as Rogue approaches the balcony railing, was mimicked from Jessica Alba's dance in Never Been Kissed. 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.
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.
Marvel references and cameos
X-Men: Evolution weaves a lot of 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", the five X-Men that went to find the other half of the spider (Beast, Angel, Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Iceman) are a reference to the original X-Men that consisted of those five members. In the Season 3 episode "Dark Horizons Part 2", Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Shadowcat are grouped together when the X-Men and the Acolytes are separated. This is 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 where Peter Parker/Spider-Man normally take pictures for. In addition, Omega Red mentions Maverick and Kestrel in the episode "Target X", referring to the latter as "Wraith".
At the beginning of the final scene at the swimming pool and as the Professor speaks just before the credits in the Season 1 episode "Speed and Spyke", the first few notes of background music are taken from the theme tune of the older Fox X-Men animated series.
X-Men: Evolution had its own line of merchandise, but lack of sales forced Marvel to cut back on production.
Toy Biz created a line of action figures which included Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Cyclops, Storm, Sabretooth, Toad, Spyke, Magneto, Juggernaut, and Blob. Hard Hero also released maquettes of Storm, Professor X, Juggernaut, Magneto, Wolverine, Colossus, Cyclops, and the X-Men: Evolution design of Captain America.
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.
- X-Men Evolution Collection collects the following four DVD's:
- UnXpected Changes (Strategy X, The X Impulse, Rogue Recruit)
- Xplosive Days (Mutant Crush, Speed and Spyke, Middleverse)
- X Marks The Spot (Turn of the Rogue, SpykeCam, Survival of the Fittest)
- Xposing The Truth (Shadowed Past, Grim Reminder, The Cauldron Parts 1 & 2)
- Mutant Rising (Growing Pains, Badda Bing Badda Boom, Power Surge, Fun and Games)
- Powers Revealed (The Beast of Bayville, Adrift, On Angel's Wings, African Storm)
- Enemies Unveiled (Joy Ride, Walk on the Wild Side, Operation Rebirth, Mindbender)
- Mystique's Revenge (Shadow Dance, Retreat, The Hex Factor, Day of Reckoning Parts 1 & 2)
- Two-Disc DVD Set (The Day of Recovery, The Stuff of Heroes, Mainstream, The Stuff of Villains, Blind Alley, X-Treme Measures, The Toad, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Self Possessed, Under Lock and Key, Cruise Control, X-23, Dark Horizon Parts 1 & 2)
- ↑ The end of X-Men Evolution
- ↑ Issue #10 cover at universohq.com
- ↑ Awards for X-Men: Evolution at the IMDb
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Forty Questions with Boyd Kirkland
- ↑ Beyond Evolution Image Gallery
- ↑ X-Men: Evolution - Season One, Volumes 1 - 4" DVD Talkback (Spoilers)
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Steven Gordon Talks X-Men: Evolution
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 X-Men: Evolution / Trivia at imdb.com
- ↑ Boyd Kirkland Talks X-Men: Evolution
- Toon Zone's X-Men: Evolution website
- X-Men: Evolution at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- TV.com: X-Men: Evolution episode list
- X-Men: Beyond Evolution hosted by Toon Zone
- X-Men: Evolution Page run by Kataclysm with screenshots for each episode and custom avatars
- The Art of Steven E. Gordon: Drawing tutorials and character design studies for many of the most popular X-Men Evolution characters, provided by the former director and character designer of the series.