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X-Men (TV series)

1992 animated television series

Night of the Sentinels (Part 1)Edit

 
We were completely aware of how different X-Men:TAS was regarding women. First, the series existed because Fox Kids Network president Margaret Loesch willed it into being. Second, everyone on the creative side had been working in the TV animation business for years, and we were tired of putting up with its many stupid, constraining rules, one of which was that in “boys’ adventure” series, the audience is almost all boys and they won’t watch female heroes. No one was consciously trying to make stories featuring the female characters, we simply were trying to tell the most intense stories we could – and it happened that half of these featured the women. ~ Eric Lewald
 
We, the creative core group, remembered being children and yearning to be challenged. Many of us had children of our own and were constantly surprised and pleased to discover what they could enjoy and grasp intuitively, even if they didn't understand everything. We knew older audiences would like it and younger audiences would aspire to it. Still, 25 years later, most TV executives don't get this. ~ Eric Lewald
 
We always get crap out here when we’re doing shows, ‘This is for boys. Don’t have any girl characters. Margaret was probably the main reason. It was her show. Storm and Rogue’s toys didn’t sell as well. [Usually] they would tell you no matter how good Storm is in the episode, the toys will sell half as many as the male characters. But it was a time when there were no toys selling well for Marvel. We didn’t have the pressure from the toy companies. ~ Eric Lewald
 
There was incredible pressure to change it around and make it younger, sillier, or give them a pet dog. To dumb it down or make it younger. Luckily, everybody on the creative side banded together and had, "No, you'll have to fire me" moments. [Marvel would say], "Put toys in or give Wolverine some Wolverine curtains." "No we're not going to do that." If you were a 30-something serious defender of right and justice in your world, would you be wearing pajamas of yourself or would you be calling yourself on your Wolverine phone? No, you wouldn't. He's a serious guy. This is not a toy show. Sorry. ~ Eric Lewald
 
...we discovered that she meant so much to each of the characters, was so central to the team, that we tended to use her support and focus on everyone else. Everyone could talk to Jean. ~ Eric Lewald
 
Advertisers and affiliate stations were freaked out at the "adult" storytelling. Stan Lee, of all people, pushed me to take out "all those big words" that Beast was saying. And he was sure that the audience would forget who everybody was and what their powers were, so he pushed to narrate all the episodes so he could tell the kids who and what they were watching. ~ Eric Lewald
 
Thank God for Sentinels, in terms of action, what action we can have,” Julia Lewald says. “If action’s going to be big, it’s going to involve Sentinels getting bits torn off and thrown about. You couldn’t do that with living things on the shows. ~ Julia Lewald
[Gambit throws a handful of charged playing card at a Sentinel]
Jubilee: How did you do that?
Gambit: With style, petite. With style.

[Jubilee tries to "save" Gambit from Wolverine when she sees them training and zaps him]
[Storm, Beast and Morph enter the room]
Storm: Is the child all right?
Wolverine: Not for long!

  • Wolverine: I go where I wanna go!

  • [Beast is mixing chemicals while hanging upside down]
Beast: It would be quite disconcerting if this were to detonate. . . disconcerting, yet provocative.

  • [Morph, Beast, and Wolverine are sneaking up to a fence]
Morph: Can you guys boost me over the fence, Beast?
[Wolverine flashes Beast a thumbs-up, while Beast gives an OK sign. Suddenly Morph screams as he's flung over the fence]
Wolverine: Looks like we can.

Night of the Sentinels (Part 2)Edit

Rogue: You look as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

Rogue: Come on boys, let's go for a little moonlight swim. Don't get a moonburn!

Gambit: Huh huh, you wanna play wit Gambit? Here, take a card. House wins.

Gambit: Life don't get much beddah dan dis!

  • [Wolverine destroys Cyclops's car, and Jean walks in]
Wolverine: Tell Cyclops, I made him a convertible.

Cold VengeanceEdit

Wolverine: Let'em go, Sabretooth! I don't wanna fight you anymore! I don't care who started it. It's time to bury it.

1.4 - Deadly ReunionsEdit

Wolverine: You always did like pushing around people smaller than you. Well I'm smaller; try pushing me!!

Wolverine: You always were second best. And in this business bub (brandishing claws)...second best just don't cut it.

Magneto: When I was a child, my people talked while others prepared for war! They used reason when others used tanks, and they were destroyed for their troubles. I won't stand by and watch it happen again, I WON'T!

Have Yourself a Morlock Little ChristmasEdit

Jean Grey: You did what?!
Gambit: I just gave da ham a little juicin' up.
Jean Grey: I want this... this- this swamp-rat out of my kitchen! Now!

  • [Cyclops zaps the broccoli while Jean Grey is throwing the broccoli at Gambit, and Rogue catches it]
Cyclops: Stop it! You're both acting like children! This is Christmas Eve, remember?

Gambit: What do you mean not eatin'?! Gambit has spent days on dis meal! My oyster loaf! My daube glace!
Jean Grey: We can warm it up tomorrow.
Gambit: Warm it up?! You do not warm up such a meal! Gambit does not make TV dinners.

2.6 - X-Ternally YoursEdit

Wolverine': I don't care which Spirit Ladies did what to which Cajuns; I'm here to stop a wedding.

Gambit: I'm not a thief, I'm not an assassin. I'm an X-Man; I am never coming back.

2.10 - Beauty and the BeastEdit

Beast: Now that you see what my life is like, you’ll understand what I have to tell you.
Carly': Hank, please don’t.
Beast: We have to face it. I am a mutant in a world that fears and despises my kind. I thought for a moment we could live in that world together, but I know now that we cannot. Someday with work and hope the world will change. Until then if you care for me as much as I care for you, you will understand why we must part.
Jubilee: Weird. Wolverine using his head, and Beast going berserk! What's the world coming to?

(More quotes coming soon)

3.7 - Phoenix Saga Part 5 Child of LightEdit

D'Ken: No! You cannot contain the power of the crystal! You cannot! Noooooooo!

4.14 - Love in VainEdit

Wolverine: Play time's over.
Cody: Morning, sleepy head.
Rogue: Mmmm... Morning. Did I sleep all night in the park?
Rogue: I know this is sudden, Professor, but I need some of- uh... personal time off.
Professor X: This isn't the back time, Rogue, Wolverine is in some sort of trouble!
Beast: Rogue, is this gentleman your guest?
Gambit: So that's Cody... Guest is what so personal?
Rogue: It's none of your blame business, Mr. Ladies' Man! Or any of ya!
Professor X: Rogue!
Rogue: Stop being so mysterious.
Cody: Oh you promise to let it be the surprise.
Brood Queen: Remember, do not vanish them.
Wolverine: Let him go, roach, or your head is shish-kabob.
Storm: Be gone, hissing vermin!
Rogue: You brought us here for them!
Cody: They didn't tell me about the others. It's for the best, darling, you'll see!
  • [Rogue suffers an agony]
Cody: They need us, Rogue, just like I need you.
Cody: We will be together!
  • [Cody whips Wolverine with his tail after he turns into the brood roach alien]
Wolverine: You wanna bet, pal?
Rogue: Wolverine, don't hurt him!
Wolverine: The ship's moving! They're leaving. Rogue, we gotta hustle! Out of my way, roaches!
Brood Queen: Secure them!
  • [Wolverine puts down Storm]
Wolverine: Secure this!

About X-Men (TV series)Edit

  • Cal Dodd: I'll never forget one day with Norm Spencer, who was Cyclops. Norm and I decided that when you could get an extra part in an episode, it was great, because when you can get another line as another character, you got an extra half of what they paid for Wolverine. So there was always competition. There's an episode where Wolverine is playing pool and a bunch of punks came in. For one of the voices, the director said, "Does anyone do Jack Nicholson?" Of course Norm puts his hand up right away. And I just looked at him and said, "Really?" So they let him read. Then I said, "Can I read this line, too?" I don't remember the line, but it was like, [doing a Nicholson voice], "I wonder if this is as good as it gets." Norm just went, "bugger off!" I do a great Jack Nicholson and no one knew that. I got the line.
  • Q: What was it like saying goodbye to this show?
Cal Dodd: I hated the fact that it was gone. Then I heard they started a new production in L.A. X-Men: Evolution and I wondered, "Why wouldn't I do that?" It was a younger version, younger X-Men. It was a huge gap in my life. I was doing it for five years and I became him. I created this guy, I created this voice. It was so a part of me that it was unbelievable. I just bought the whole five-year series and I started to watch it bit by bit. It's so good. It was like losing my right arm. I loved the guy. Because it was like me. He was like a brother.
Q: What comes to mind when you think of the show's legacy?
Cal Dodd: [Executive story editor] Eric [Lewald] has this great story in his book he just got finished about the making of X-Men. A fan of the show, who was now maybe in his 30s, sent in this letter explaining his life and what the show meant at the time. He was overweight and was being picked on and he was considering suicide, but he was so in love with the X-Men Saturday morning cartoon and Wolverine. They were mutants and they were picked on and not liked by the general public. He identified totally with that. He was about to jump off this roof, but then he said, "I can't do this, I'm going to miss the Saturday morning X-Men episode." That's the kind of impact it had on kids.
  • Eric Lewald: Haim Saban didn't own any of the property. He was getting a fee. Whether we spent $1 million making an episode or $200,000, he was getting a certain fee. If the budget went up, it came out of his pocket. So, from the beginning, he was looking to economize. Fox wanted the shows to be glorious and Marvel wanted them to be glorious. Saban was going, "I know you want a great show, but I'm not going to lose money on this thing. Let's keep costs down." For years, his reaction to just about any creative decision was, "What's that going to cost?"
  • Will Meugniot: There was merchandise threat that almost shut down the production. They had made a deal with a fast food franchise to do some X-Men giveaway toys in Australia. And whoever had negotiated the deal had promised the Australian food franchisee that those toys would appear in the show. They were some of the most God awful designs possible. So I said no, and the situation festered for a few days. At home one night I got a call from Jim Graziano, who was the head of Graz, the production company I was working for. Jim just said, "Look, Marvel is threatening to pull the show from us if you don't cave on this." He goes, "If you think it's important, we'll back you. But think very carefully, because there will probably be consequences." I said, "We can't cave on this, or we are going to have to cave on everything." And Jim backed me and it was a really tense few days and we prevailed.
Eric Lewald: There was incredible pressure to change it around and make it younger, sillier, or give them a pet dog. To dumb it down or make it younger. Luckily, everybody on the creative side banded together and had, "No, you'll have to fire me" moments. [Marvel would say], "Put toys in or give Wolverine some Wolverine curtains." "No we're not going to do that." If you were a 30-something serious defender of right and justice in your world, would you be wearing pajamas of yourself or would you be calling yourself on your Wolverine phone? No, you wouldn't. He's a serious guy. This is not a toy show. Sorry. "You'll have to fire me to change it."
Sidney Iwanter: Serialized storytelling had never been attempted before on Saturday morning or if it had, certainly not on this level. A story arc that extends over weeks adds all sorts of new wrinkles to the mix. Will the shows be able to run in sequence? What happens if there is a production problem and show five is ready before show two? How would our young demographic deal with an episode that doesn’t clearly end but leaves the viewer in suspense for a week? How does one bring in a viewer who might have missed the first several episodes into the show’s storyline? Hence the now quite ubiquitous invention of the X-Men’s "Previously on…" recap.
  • "X-Men" is different from most animated action adventure shows you may have seen or written. It is more about the lives of our characters -- heroes and villains alike -- than ingenious plots or non-stop, death-defying physical jeopardy. It's not important whether or not a bad guy succeeds in blowing up the Pentagon. What matters most is how Wolverine deals with the pain of losing a friend while trying to stop it. Use plot to showcase character, not the other way around.
    Which is not to say that "X-Men" will lack action, pace, or intensity. We want these shows to move fast and be dense with dramatic crises. Action scenes will play like "Terminator 2" on speed. But more often than not the crisis is personal, not physical. Think of the famous Star Trek scene where Kirk has to let the woman he loves get killed for the sake of future lives. There was matchless dramatic tension created by a man watching a woman slowly walking across a street. The drama was inside the character.
    "X-Men" is a show of grey areas. We understand most of our villains, even sympathize with some. X-Men victories tend to be mixed blessings and are never achieved without a loss of some kind. "Good guys" fight each other, have bad days, and are capable of being petty and intolerant. One might even leave the X-Men in disgust and join the enemy.
    Through it all, however, our X-Men distinguish themselves by maintaining their values of friendship, loyalty, and personal sacrifice. Whatever the cost, they must do what must be done.
  • Executive story producer Eric Lewald, memo to writers, as quoted on Marvel Animated Wikia".
  • We always get crap out here when we're doing shows, 'This is for boys. Don't have any girl characters.' Margaret was probably the main reason. It was her show. Storm and Rogue's toys didn't sell as well. [Usually] they would tell you no matter how good Storm is in the episode, the toys will sell half as many as the male characters. But it was a time when there were no toys selling well for Marvel. We didn't have the pressure from the toy companies.
  • The robots’ destructive power also made it easy for X-Men: The Animated Series to sidestep broadcast censors. “Thank God for Sentinels, in terms of action, what action we can have,” Julia Lewald says. “If action’s going to be big, it’s going to involve Sentinels getting bits torn off and thrown about. You couldn’t do that with living things on the shows.” There were times when the networked tugged on the show’s reigns; When the writing process found itself rubbing shoulders with the L.A. riots, Fox made requests to scale back any script containing city-in-flames set pieces (despite the animation process taking nine months). Eric Lewald adds, “The rules for Saturday morning are so restrictive that to make something intense, with a lot at stake, and people who really wanted to slaughter each other … it was a real balancing act.”
  • Eric: There were no trades. I didn't know about the Phoenix Saga. There was no book compilation of it. The way I handled it, was through the help of Mark Edens and Michael Edens, my two writing partners since college who were a third of the writing staff on the show (20 credits, much more uncredited). They sat down with Julia and me at our dining room table, sometimes with producer-director Larry Houston on the phone (Larry knows the characters inside and out - great guy) and we figured the first season out. We went through all the characters and their relationships. For villains, we focused on sentinels because they were animation friendly and destroyable. Being a kid’s show, we couldn't even scratch actual people.
  • Eric: We had to introduce them, which is hard to imagine now. We had to introduce what a mutant is to an audience between the ages of 4- and 40-year-olds. Why are the people together? What's their problem? Why X-Men? What are they fighting for? Why aren't these other mutants with them? Why are some mutants against them? That's why we chose to focus them on fighting intolerant people and having more human problems than the books, which were much more fighting against super-villain of the week. We were learning it too. We’d highlight what it meant to be a mutant and why they'd chosen to be X-Men and through doing that we kept putting them up against more bad people than bad mutants.
  • Eric: To be honest, Stan wasn't that involved. Marvel told me he hadn’t been involved in the books for 20 years. This was 1992. The books had changed a lot in two decades. Most of the X-Men were different (thanks, Len Wein, and Chris and John). Still, Stan wanted to be more involved, and he was close friends with Margaret Loesch, whose baby this was. Stan loves to be involved creatively. He wants to be part of everything. He's an indefatigable, voracious guy. He never stops. He's 93 (94?) now, and he hasn’t slowed down. He's intense. The problem with us was that when he had done the book in 1963 with Kirby, it was about "extraordinary youngsters!" To us, that was like a Pat Boone record, when we were trying to do metal / rock. I was told that he never liked the direction that the books had gone since 1975, and since we liked the newer books, he fought us on the tone and direction of the show.
Eric: Margaret Loesch wanted a more adult edgy show. The books in the 90's were tough, edgy, and adult. They weren't paddy-cake books. They weren't playing at it. They were intense. So we had that.
  • Eric: There had been dozens of X-Men team members by 1992. Which of them do you pick? People don't understand that some of that evolved as we wrote it. Beast wasn't going to be part of the team. The reason we put him in prison in the beginning was so that we wouldn't see him for seven or eight episodes and there would be a reason for it. And, by the time we got to the end of the first 13, we loved writing for him so much; he became part of the team.
  • Eric: The money and the interest and the people all seemed to balance. As the years went on, from the late 90's into the early 2000's, for whatever reason, the money for shows kept going down. Even X-Men was a low to moderate budget show, half of what Batman was. It was still expensive compared to many of the modern simpler animated shows. To make X-Men look as good as it did took a lot of effort. More and more people stopped doing ambitious shows. We tried to pitch ambitious shows. Production companies would look at the scripts and say, screw this, we're just going to have a couple of close ups and be out of the scene. The money went down. Now it's become more affordable and people are making more spectacular animated shows again. So, there's money again for quality action-adventure shows.
  • Lewald: We were completely aware of how different X-Men:TAS was regarding women. First, the series existed because Fox Kids Network president Margaret Loesch willed it into being. Second, everyone on the creative side had been working in the TV animation business for years, and we were tired of putting up with its many stupid, constraining rules, one of which was that in “boys’ adventure” series, the audience is almost all boys and they won’t watch female heroes. No one was consciously trying to make stories featuring the female characters, we simply were trying to tell the most intense stories we could – and it happened that half of these featured the women. We could have tried making the team eight guys and a girl (as other TV networks probably would have insisted), but that just weakens the stories, limits variety, and is just plain stupid. Looking back, it seems that few series have followed our lead on this. Even the X-Men movies, which I respect and enjoy, have seemed to had trouble featuring the women as action heroes central to the stories. Storm and Rogue were our two most powerful X-Men: not in the movies.
Dar: It’s not unusual to see elements of comic book television to be incorporated into the comics themselves like Harley Quinn from Batman:TAS. Though some specific details changed, the basic premise of the ep “One Man’s Worth” basically inspired the big X-Men “Age of Apocalypse” publishing event. What was it like to see something from animation influence the comics as opposed to the other way around?
Lewald: Of course it was gratifying. “One Man’s Worth” was a story I came up with and one of the ones I was most proud of. But it’s also a reminder – most good stories have been told many times in many different forms. Writers of all ages and all times “borrow” plot points from each other. I “borrowed” from It’s a Wonderful Life and City on the Edge of Forever for the central idea: “What would the world have been like without this one crucial man.” It’s all in the execution. “One Man’s Worth” came out well; so did “Age of Apocalypse.” If we or the comics’ writers had done weaker work, using a good idea wouldn’t have helped us. That’s a reason I never had a prejudice for “original” material over “adaptations.” There are so many hundreds of creative decisions to make in any story, by the end, you’ve made it personal.
  • Dar: I’d be remiss if we didn’t discuss writer Len Wein who recently passed away and not only helped redefine the X-Men but also created everyone’s favorite Canadian mutant, WOLVERINE! What kind of influence did he have on the animated series?
Lewald: Quite simply, X-Men:TAS would not have existed without Len. The 1960s X-Men book was discontinued in 1970 for a reason – it was an interesting idea that wasn’t right yet. When Len was entrusted with reinventing the book in 1975, he and Dave Cockrum and Chris Claremont and the others made it what it is today: international cast, serious, adult. So in that way, his presence was crucial. As to the actual writing of the series, I didn’t speak to Len until after we had done the first season. I simply didn’t know he was in LA doing animation. Almost all comics people were back in New York busy writing comics. We started the first season in a hurry, and I grabbed the best TV animation people I knew, which didn’t include Len.
Dar: I only recently realized that Wein wrote a few episodes of the cartoon, and that the majority of them were Wolverine-centric. Was that intentional? What did Wein think about the cartoon?
Lewald: When the first season was an unexpected success and the series was renewed, writer Bob Skir said: “You ought to call Len Wein. He’s out here.” I owe the intro to Bob. And yes, of course we wanted to have Len as a writer for Wolverine as much as we could.
He told me he liked the cartoon a lot. He appreciated that we respected the original material. You will see in his interview in the book (the longest?) that he above anyone understood the need to adapt characters and storytelling to the medium you are working in – in this case, from comics to TV animation. I never heard a word of dissent from him about how we treated any of his characters – Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus. I believe that he was pleased at most of the efforts, over the past 25 years, to use his characters in movies and TV.
  • Eric & Julia Lewald: While we’re proud of many of the episodes, I think adapting “Days of Future Past” and “The Phoenix Saga” for television were among the biggest challenges, since X-Men fans had preconceived ideas about these classics. The pilot story, “Night of the Sentinels,” was a real challenge, since we had to introduce this strange world to an audience, 90% of whom knew nothing about it. “Nightcrawler” dealt with faith in a way we’d never seen on Saturday Morning TV. And “One Man’s Worth,” my favorite of our dozens of original stories, was so satisfying that Marvel used it later as the basis for “Age of Apocalypse.”
  • AiPT!: I’m curious about Jean Grey’s role on the series. While her Phoenix storylines dominated season 3, she was less prominent in the show’s early episodes. Was there a reason why she took a backseat to other characters early on in the series?
Eric & Julia Lewald: There are a few reasons I can think of. First, Marvel listed her as a “secondary character” (Beast too!), so we didn’t plan big things for her. Second, we discovered that she meant so much to each of the characters, was so central to the team, that we tended to use her support and focus on everyone else. Everyone could talk to Jean. Finally, we were focused on personal and origin stories, which for many of the other characters were more involved and dramatic than hers.
  • Q: I read that you guys were fighting executives about dumbing down and goofing up X-Men: TAS. Can you recall more vividly some of the more ridiculous requests you got, and how you had to defend your vision?
A: Interestingly, the usual source of dumb-it-down pressure, the TV network, was 100 percent behind our vision. Pressure instead came from secondary people with self-interests. A fast-food company with a deal with Marvel insisted that their kids-meal toys of the characters be shown in every episode. Haim Saban [whose Saban Entertainment was contracted to produce the show], who was paid the same fee whether we spent $50,000 or $500,000 per episode making it, suggested on day one that the show be focused on Xavier and Cerebro in a van driving around, Scooby-like, solving mysteries (less to draw).
Advertisers and affiliate stations were freaked out at the "adult" storytelling. Stan Lee, of all people, pushed me to take out "all those big words" that Beast was saying. And he was sure that the audience would forget who everybody was and what their powers were, so he pushed to narrate all the episodes so he could tell the kids who and what they were watching.
Q: How did you know that the Saturday morning cartoon crowd could keep up with more grown-up fare? What did kids understand about X-men that the execs never got?
A: We, the creative core group, remembered being children and yearning to be challenged. Many of us had children of our own and were constantly surprised and pleased to discover what they could enjoy and grasp intuitively, even if they didn't understand everything. We knew older audiences would like it and younger audiences would aspire to it. Still, 25 years later, most TV executives don't get this.

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