‘X-Men ’97’ Directors Break Down Season 1 Finale, Cyclops’ Image Rehab and Those Marvel Universe Cameos

Chase Conley digs into Jean Grey and Scott’s “bittersweet” family goodbye to son Cable

x-men-97
Characters from "X-Men '97." (Marvel Studios)

“X-Men ’97” series directors Emi/Emmett Yonemura and Chase Conley never understood why there was so much hate for Cyclops on the internet, but love that the show — which aired its Season 1 finale on Wednesday — has done wonders for the mutant’s image.

“I always liked leader characters and never liked how you’re always looking at that guy who’s trying to keep people alive with a negative lens,” Yonemura told TheWrap. “It’s like, ‘Oh you’re just a Boy Scout.’ No! He’s actually trying to do right by everybody, and that’s hard.”

“He’s one of the best tacticians in the Marvel Universe, you could put him up there with Captain America, and he’s immensely powerful,” Conley added. “I’ve also liked that as he’s matured, he starts to question. Like a father to a son, the things my father has taught me to believe in as I experience the world myself. How does that change me — do I agree with him? As he’s the poster child for Xavier’s ideology.”

Much of that maturity in Cyclops pays off in the finale, an episode Conley directed, when he and Jean appear as a projection to their son Cable before they make a sacrifice play to stop Magneto’s Asteroid M from hitting Earth and causing a real “Armageddon”/”Deep Impact” situation. Cable’s growth after seeing his parents act like the stories he heard about them is short and quick, but that’s what Conley loved about that moment.

“It’s bittersweet,” Conley said. “At first [Cable] doesn’t understand them, but they actually live up to the gravity of these stories that he’s been told. You always kind of straddle the fence with Cable, because if he says too much, it’s not Cable. In this moment of vulnerability, he lets it all off his chest. He says, ‘I’ve heard all these stories of you and you did live up to that, because I didn’t believe you did to this point.”

The three-part finale, titled “Tolerance is Extinction,” mined story from two major ’90s X-Men comic arcs: namely “Operation: Zero Tolerance” and “Fatal Attractions.” There were moments in the final episodes that featured near-recreations of some classic comic panels. Yonemura said it was their way to pay homage.

“The live-action movies will do Stan Lee cameos, I like then that we can do artist cameos,” Yonemura said. “Even though we’re drawing in a different style, I learned from the Kuberts. They’re some of my mentors. The fact that I could then put in a Kubert panel, it just means we’re having cameos in different ways now. It’s really cool to bring back love to the source material.”

Marvel cameos

Season 1’s final episode also featured a wealth of in-universe cameos, from Peter and Mary Jane from the ’90s “Spider-Man” cartoon, to Daredevil, Cloak and Dagger and even Iron Man. Conley said he was excited to include them, but who made it in and where came down to one thing: distraction.

“I have a list, but for any situation it’s really just, is this distracting or not?” Conley said. “We always want to have something serve the story. When we wanted to show this was happening all around the world, what’s a better way than cutting to an exterior and flashing a chyron? We know where we are when we cut to specific characters that are from respective countries.”

That said, he did have a few favorites from the episode.

“Having Psylocke pop up, even though Morph turned into her in [Episode] 102, that’s just a dope moment,” he added. “Going back to Silver Samurai twice I thought was cool, I’ll never complain about that.”

All of “X-Men ’97” Season 1 is available to stream on Disney+.

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