X-Men ’97 Appoints New Head Writer for Season 3 After Beau DeMayo’s Exit

X-Men ’97 Appoints New Head Writer for Season 3 After Beau DeMayo’s Exit

X-Men ’97, an American animated television series created by Beau DeMayo for Disney+, is a revival of the beloved X-Men: The Animated Series (1992–1997). The show continues the story of the X-Men, who face new challenges following the loss of their leader, Professor X. Produced by Marvel Studios under its Marvel Animation label, the series initially had DeMayo as the head writer for the first two seasons. However, Matthew Chauncey has been appointed as the new head writer for the third season following DeMayo’s exit, with Jake Castorena serving as the supervising director.

The voice cast includes Ray Chase, Jennifer Hale, Alison Sealy-Smith, Cal Dodd, J. P. Karliak, Lenore Zann, George Buza, A. J. LoCascio, Holly Chou, Isaac Robinson-Smith, Matthew Waterson, Ross Marquand, and Adrian Hough. Notably, Sealy-Smith, Dodd, Zann, Buza, and Hough reprise their roles from the original series, along with Christopher Britton. Original series stars Catherine Disher, Chris Potter, Alyson Court, Lawrence Bayne, and Ron Rubin return to voice new characters.

The revival was first discussed in June 2019 and formally announced in November 2021, with DeMayo and Castorena attached. Chase Conley and Emi Yonemura also directed episodes. DeMayo was fired as head writer in March 2024 after completing work on the first two seasons. Chauncey was hired to write the third season in July 2024. The series is the first X-Men project from Marvel Studios since the company regained the film and television rights to the characters. Animation was provided by Studio Mir and Tiger Animation, and is a modernized version of the original series’ style.

X-Men ’97 premiered on March 20, 2024, with its first two episodes. The rest of the ten-episode first season was released weekly until May 15. A second season is in production and a third is in development.

The series continues the story of X-Men: The Animated Series, where mutants are people born with superhuman abilities that generally manifest during puberty. The X-Men are a team of mutant superheroes founded by Professor Charles Xavier to protect mutants and humans alike. At the end of The Animated Series, Xavier nearly dies in an assassination attempt and is taken to space to be healed by the alien Shi’ar Empire. X-Men ’97 begins a year later and sees the X-Men facing new challenges without Xavier, under the leadership of their former adversary Magneto. As with the original series, X-Men ’97 combines action, soap opera-style drama, and exploration of serious topics.

Ray Chase voices Scott Summers / Cyclops, the mutant field leader of the X-Men whose eyes emit powerful beams of concussive energy. Jennifer Hale voices Jean Grey, a powerful telepathic and telekinetic mutant who is married to Cyclops. Alison Sealy-Smith reprises her role as Ororo Munroe / Storm, a powerful mutant who can control the weather. Cal Dodd returns as Logan / Wolverine, a hotheaded mutant with a regenerative healing factor. J. P. Karliak voices Morph, a mutant metamorph who can change their voice and appearance to that of any person. Lenore Zann reprises her role as Rogue, a mutant who absorbs the memories, powers, and energy of those she touches. George Buza returns as Dr. Henry “Hank” McCoy / Beast, a blue-furred mutant genius with superhuman strength and agility. A. J. LoCascio voices Remy LeBeau / Gambit, a mutant and former thief who can charge objects with explosive kinetic energy. Holly Chou voices Jubilation Lee / Jubilee, the youngest member of the X-Men who can create firework-like explosions. Isaac Robinson-Smith voices Lucas Bishop, a mutant from a dystopian future with the ability to absorb kinetic energy and redirect it into concussive blasts. Matthew Waterson voices Erik “Magnus” Lehnsherr / Magneto, a powerful mutant who controls magnetism. Ross Marquand voices Professor Charles Xavier, the founder of the X-Men who was taken to space to be healed by the Shi’ar Empire. Adrian Hough reprises his role as Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler, a Catholic, blue mutant with teleporting abilities.

Recurring guests in the first season include Gui Agustini as Roberto da Costa / Sunspot, Catherine Disher as Dr. Valerie Cooper, Gavin Hammon as Dr. Bolivar Trask, Eric Bauza as the Master Mold supercomputer, Donna Jay Fulks as news reporter Trish Tilby, Christopher Britton as Dr. Nathaniel Essex / Mister Sinister, Gil Birmingham as Forge, Christine Uhebe as Roberto’s mother Nina da Costa, Chris Potter as Nathan Summers / Cable, Theo James as Bastion, and Ron Rubin as U.S. president Robert Kelly.

Actors who voice multiple characters include Todd Haberkorn, who voices Henry Peter Gyrich and Ronan the Accuser, David Errigo Jr. as Leech, Mojo, Sean Cassidy / Banshee, and Gladiator, Courtenay Taylor as Callisto and Illyana Rasputina / Magik / Darkchylde, Martha Marion as Emma Frost and Dr. Moira MacTaggert, and Kari Wahlgren as Sebastian and his mother Rose.

Other guest stars include Lawrence Bayne as Carl Denti / X-Cutioner, Kimberly Woods as a vision of Bishop’s younger sister Shard, Abby Trott as Spiral, Travis Willingham as Sebastian Shaw, Morla Gorrondonna as Lilandra Neramani, Cari Kabinoff as Lilandra’s sister Deathbird, Jeff Bennett as Ford, Anjali Bhimani as Bastion’s assistant Daria, Rama Vallury as Baron Zemo, Gates McFadden as Rachel Summers / Mother Askani, and Adetokumboh M’Cormack as En Sabah Nur.

Additionally, Josh Keaton and Michael Patrick McGill reprise their respective roles as Steve Rogers / Captain America and Thunderbolt Ross from the series What If…?. Lawrence Bayne voiced Captain America in the original series.

In addition to Callisto, Leech, and Tommy, the Morlocks Ape and Erg are seen. Characters that appear in Genosha include Glob Herman, Pixie, Nature Girl, Gentle, Multiple Man, Exodus, Dazzler, Boom Boom, Squidboy, Marrow, Blob, Forearm, Angel Salvadore, Mimic, Psylocke, Cipher, Frenzy, and members of the Savage Land Mutates. Other characters that make non-speaking appearances in the first season include Cyclops’s brother Vulcan, Alpha Flight members Northstar, Puck, and Aurora, Japanese mutant Silver Samurai, the Russian superhero team Winter Guard, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Daredevil, Cloak, and Dagger, and the characters Peter Parker / Spider-Man, Mary Jane Watson, and Flash Thompson from the animated series Spider-Man.

Magneto sees a vision of his children Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch, Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver, and Lorna Dane / Polaris, while alternate versions of Polaris and Rachel Summers are seen in the future that Cable is trying to prevent.

Larry Houston, the producer and director of X-Men: The Animated Series, said in June 2019 that he and the series’ creative team were discussing a potential revival with Disney. They wanted to continue the story from where the original series ended. Disney subsidiary Marvel Studios was developing their first animated series, What If…?, and executives began discussing what their next animated project could be. The first idea considered was a revival of X-Men: The Animated Series, which was suggested by Brad Winderbaum. The head of streaming, television, and animation at Marvel Studios, Winderbaum was a fan of the series, and said several filmmakers who had met with Marvel Studios in the past had cited that series as a touchstone. In November 2020, Beau DeMayo was asked to present a pitch for the revival after working as a writer for Marvel Studios’ live-action Disney+ miniseries Moon Knight.

By June 2021, Marvel Studios Animation was developing a slate of at least three series in addition to What If…? that, as of August 2021, were in various stages of development and not expected to be released until 2023. In November, one of these was announced to be X-Men ’97, a revival and continuation of X-Men: The Animated Series. Dana Vasquez-Eberhardt, VP of animation at Marvel Studios, said many of the people involved with the revival were fans of the 1990s series and “knew exactly” what the continuation should be. DeMayo was announced as head writer and executive producer, with Jake Castorena as supervising director and Charley Feldman as supervising producer. Houston and the original series’ showrunners, Eric and Julia Lewald, were consulting on the revival, assisting with any “red flags” that arose and suggesting things they would like to see. The trio were contacted by Winderbaum shortly after the revival series entered development, and were excited that Marvel chose to make a direct continuation of their series. The Lewalds attributed Disney and Marvel Studios’ fast-tracking of the revival to the success of the original series streaming on Disney+ and the book X-Men: The Art and Making of The Animated Series. Castorena, Chase Conley, and Emi Yonemura directed episodes of the first season. Marvel Studios’ Winderbaum, Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, and Victoria Alonso also served as executive producers.

The series is the first X-Men project from Marvel Studios since they regained the film and television rights to the characters from 20th Century Fox, which put more pressure on DeMayo to get the project right in addition to wanting to respect the original series. X-Men ’97 is not set in the Sacred Timeline of Marvel Studios’ shared universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), though Feige did consider integrating the series with the MCU during development. Instead, X-Men ’97 shares continuity with the original series and several other animated Marvel series that were released in the 1990s, including Iron Man, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Silver Surfer; within Marvel Comics’ multiverse, X-Men: The Animated Series exists on Earth-92131. Winderbaum said X-Men ’97 would continue the original series’ tradition of featuring crossover cameo appearances from the other 1990s series. During Marvel Studios Animation’s panel at the 2022 San Diego Comic-Con, X-Men ’97 and the studio’s other animated series were described as being part of the “Marvel Animated Multiverse”, and Winderbaum acknowledged that there was potential to connect the series with other MCU properties using the MCU’s multiverse.

Work on a second season had begun by July 2022, and writing on the second-season finale started by July 2023. Conley and Yonemura returned as directors for the season. DeMayo had finished writing for the second season and began discussing ideas for a potential third season by March 2024, when he was fired by Marvel Studios ahead of the series’ premiere. He was not involved in further promotion for the series and missed its red carpet premiere, which The Hollywood Reporter said was unusual for someone working on a Marvel Studios project, “even if they’ve been shuffled to the side” or replaced by other creatives. Reportedly, DeMayo was difficult to work with and his use of a non-explicit OnlyFans account was not received well by Disney executives. Winderbaum said the studio parted ways with DeMayo, rather than firing him, and praised his work on the series. He said DeMayo’s departure would not negatively affect work on the third season, which was in development by the end of the month and remained on track to meet its production schedule. The studio was searching for DeMayo’s replacement by then. Matthew Chauncey, a writer on What If…?, was hired in July 2024 to write the third season, replacing DeMayo. The season two scripts had reportedly been revised by then.

By April 2022, the Lewalds had seen premises for all 10 episodes and several completed scripts from the first season, as well as the series’ bible, which confirms that—as with the original series and the comic books—the revival’s central ethos is the X-Men are allegories for people who face prejudice and discrimination. Eric Lewald described X-Men ’97 as an extension of the original series that the Marvel Studios team had made their own, while Vasquez-Eberhardt said the original series “embraced action, soap opera and serious topics”, and the revival would do the same. DeMayo wanted to honor the original series while bringing it into the modern world, hoping to retain its earnestness, emotional sincerity, and focus on found family while updating the social commentary to reflect contemporary society. The new series explores whether Professor Charles Xavier’s dream of mutant/human co-existence and his focus on empathy are still relevant to modern audiences, with DeMayo feeling that issues of social acceptance had become more complicated since the 1990s.

The revival begins a year after the loss of Xavier during the original series’ finale. Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, Wolverine, Rogue, Beast, Gambit, and Jubilee return as members of the X-Men.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, Marvel Studios

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