Rachel here! As you may or may not know, Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men–the podcast, the videos, and everything we do here on the site–is entirely listener supported, via our kickass Patreon subscribers. And last night, while we weren’t looking, they unlocked one hell of a milestone goal:
Starting next week, I’ll be recapping and reviewing not one, not a dozen, but every single episode of animated high-school drama X-Men: Evolution.
It’s no secret that I love this show. I love it a lot. I love the awkward teenagers (and even more awkward early animation); the dubious fashion; the high-school angst; the godawful Season One finale. I love the way it starts terrible and then slowly and subtly gets awesome while you’re not paying attention. I love that there’s an episode where it stops being a superhero show and instead spends 22 minutes doing a straight-up homage to old-school girl-gang movies.
And I love seeing characters and premises I love reinvented and refiltered through very different sensibilities: what shifts and evolves, and what core themes persist through the changes. In a lot of ways, Evolution is the most daring adaptation of X-Men; certainly, it’s the one that moves furthest from any other incarnation of the series and team. Sometimes it succeeds brilliantly. Sometimes it fails spectacularly. But it never stops being fun.
If you want to watch along with me, you can find the full series on Marvel’s YouTube channel, starting here. I’ll be kicking off next week with Season 1, Episode 1: “Strategy X.”
I love this show. I thought Rogue was especially well handled and this show helped rekindle my love of all things X-men which had been guttering for a bit.
X-Men: Evolution is also available on Hulu, for the record.
I love how you said, “I love the way it starts terrible and then slowly and subtly gets awesome while you’re not paying attention.” That NAILS it. Yup; it’s so weird how subtle and unexpected the move from bad to good is. I’m VERY excited for this! Thanks, Rachel, and thanks, Patreon supporters!!!!
Well, kinda. It depends on the platform you’re watching on–for instance, only the first season is available on Hulu via Playstation.
(I’m really excited, too!!!)
Weird. I watched the whole series on Hulu in my browser like a month-and-a-half ago. I just checked, and it is still up in the web browser version.
It is, but for me, having to watch it on my computer pretty much counterbalances any advantages to Hulu.
For me, the series first became interesting as early as the first hints of Rogue’s crush on Scott. It starts showing its potential with “Turn of the Rogue” and has a good run of episodes like “Shadowed Past”, “Grim Reminder”, and “Survival of the Fittest”. I agree, the two-part Season 1 finale is a fountain of WTF. And then with Season 2 and onward, the showrunners have figured out the kind of show they want this to be. By the Season 2 finale, it’s kicking ass and delivering some of the best X-Men stories seen outside of the comics.
The show basically combines the “boarding school hi-jinks” described by Kurt Busiek about the original run of X-Men with the fun of New Mutants and Generation X, as well as the darkness and drama that came along with all of the above. I even think the show managed to be superior to the X-Men comics in a couple of respects: it actually showed Xavier and the X-Men making honest attempts to integrate the mutants into society rather than segregate them, and as dark and serious as the show got, its characters never forgot how to have fun and enjoy themselves.
Oh, and I thought the art style was really neat to look at. As questionable as some of the fashion choices were, I like that the characters weren’t just wearing the same clothes as their comics counterparts. In fact, the clothing seemed to behave like actual fabric, and they actually paid attention to footwear.
As much as I grew up on the ’90s Fox cartoon, and as awesome as Wolverine and the X-Men was, X-Men Evolution still stands as one of my favorite incarnations of the X-Men.
X-Men: Evolution is very dear to my heart, and I’m beyond thrilled that one of my favorite X-Perts will be discussing it: the good, the bad, and the what-on-earth-were-they-thinking?
See you in the first episode!
I remember when this used to play on Saturday mornings and I thought it was better than the first X-Men series. Mainly because of Nightcrawler because he’s just awesome but the way they addressed his relationship with Mystique was pretty fast. I’m going to watch the first few episodes right now.
I checked Google Play here in Canada, but no sign of it. I will be watching along on youtube. Looking forward to it, I’ve never seen a moment of this show.
Aww yeah! I think it might be BECAUSE of how closely the 90s cartoon stuck with the “classic” comic book storylines, that Evolution could completely redo the series and actually make it work. I love Jean Grey, but really, I love Evolution!Jean the best because she actually has a personality. And I loved goth!Rogue too, it just works for me.
Yeah, I really liked how they handled both Jean and Rogue. Jean being the brainy, go-getter honor student was played as both her best and worst quality: best in that she accomplished a lot, but worst in that it led her to be opinionated in a way that tended to annoy her teammates. And her best and worst qualities were treated as part of the character, rather than any judgment about the her.
I think my favorite Jean moment in Evo was during “Survival of the Fittest”: “I just want you to know I’m very proud of you for doing the right thing–”
*Scott drags her by the arm off-screen* “Come ON, Jean!”
And Rogue was the breakout character for the entire show. It was clear (to me at least) that the creative staff was invested in making her a really fascinating, vital character. I didn’t think “Angry Southern Belle Goth” would work for Rogue, but holy hell this show made it work. And this show made her work without the Ms. Marvel power upgrade far better than the movies ever did. Movie Rogue never seemed like she stood on her own two feet; Evolution Rogue was a force to be reckoned with.
AND the fact that the gloves seemed like a fashion statement first of all
So I just watched episode 1, season 1 in preparation for this. It was the first time I’d ever seen any of the show, and wow… what an odd combination of what seems like a really fun setup for a show with an incredibly stupid first episode.
Yeah, that’s like 2/3 of Season 1 in a nutshell. It grows into it, though.
Believe me, it could have been worse.
I’ve never seen any of the episodes of this series, but I’ve wanted to. Thanks for pointing out that they’re on Youtube!
I LOVE this series too! It both acknowledged the X-Men as a soap opera (especially the first seasons and so many relatives popping out of the blue), and made interesting points about how the BIG mutant problems evolved from the tiny ones (actually, it all began because of a mess during graduation), and wasn’t afraid to mention the holocaust.
Besides, Goth Rogue and X-23!
I’ll provide running Toad commentary. I KNOW TOO MUCH.