Wolverine and The X-Men
Heroes Return Trilogy DVD
Starring Steve Blum, Jim Ward, Tom Kane
Marvel Animation/Lionsgate Films
Release date: April 21, 2009
I have not watched an X-Men cartoon on a regular basis since the early 90’s but since I heard so many good things about Wolverine and the X-Men, I decided to check it out and see for myself.
An explosion rocks the Xavier school, leaving both Professor X and Jean Grey presumed dead. With Xavier gone and Cyclops reeling from Jean’s death, the X-Men are forced to disband. A year passes and with mutant tension rising and the mutant hunting organization Mutant Response Division (MRD) growing, it is lone wolf Wolverine who must reunite the team and he’d better do it fast. A war is coming and it is one that will decimate both mutant and mankind.
From the creators of X-Men Evolution, Craig Kyle, Chris Yost, and Greg Johnson, this is not a continuation of the X-Men cartoon nor does it necessarily follow the storyline from the X-Men comic book. Rather, it appears to be a cartoon that not only stands on its own, but also borrows just enough characters and storylines from both the movies and the comic books to make it feel new and original. It almost feels like an alternate universe version of the X-Men and that has its benefits and disadvantages.
On the positive side, there is no continuity baggage. Fans of X-Men can jump right onto the series and not miss a beat and non-fans can do the same. All they need to know is that Wolverine is a bad-ass, Beast is the brains of the operation, and Nightcrawler is blue and can teleport. With a semi-clean slate, the producers can recreate any of those mutants to their liking. For example, while in many of the cartoons, team leader Cyclops is usually the guy who everyone can count on but not in this universe. He is a basket case after Jean’s death and it is just a mess.
Now personally, I like the idea of having a grief stricken Cyclops. He is usually very one dimensional and could use something to spice up his character a bit. Although three episodes in, I have seen him go from being a one dimensional do-gooder to a one dimensional basket case who misses his girlfriend. Hopefully as the episodes go on, they can actually put into action their plans.
One of the better things about this series is generous use of X-Men characters. Everyone from Storm, Angel, Domino, The White Queen, and Magneto is used with more to come from what I could tell in the featurette that was included in the DVD. With so many characters present, it gives the cartoon a lot more depth and scope. Also, in this new universe, many of the character are slightly altered, giving longtime fans more surprises when they watch the cartoon.
While the cartoon has some pretty lofty goals, I wish the producers would go the extra mile and make the cartoon as dramatic and as unique as they said they would. Not finding the bodies of both Professor X and Jean Grey after the accident is a huge cop-out if I ever saw one. There is not one person watching who would ever believe that those two were dead. The audience is practically expecting them to return. Showing the bodies or at least a funeral would have sent a stronger message to viewers that this cartoon will be different from the others, even if the producers brought back the two characters several episodes later.
Other than that, the cartoon is pretty solid. It is beautifully produced and the dialogue, though it tries a little too hard, is pretty decent, most likely because of the actors providing the voices. I am not a huge fan of any of the voices on this cartoon (I always thought the actors from the 90’s X-Men cartoons nailed the voices of each character), but all of them pull off the voices well enough to be tolerable. The DVD also includes extras like creator commentaries, featurettes, and character profiles.
Wolverine and The X-Men is not the best X-Men cartoon I’ve seen but it sure is a very good start. The action is great, the characterizations of each mutant are pretty faithful to the original comic, and the dialogue is solid. I only wish that there were more than three episodes in this DVD. It is hard to gauge how good a series is by just three episodes but it seems to hit the mark so far.