The MCU Moments That Left X-Men ’97’s Director Feeling ‘Shocked’ While Sitting In The Theater

 Avengers Endgame poster.
Avengers Endgame poster.

The 20th Century Fox era of X-Men movies may officially be over, but aspects of it live on over at Marvel Studios. In addition to the upcoming Marvel movie Deadpool & Wolverine kicking down the doors to that franchise again, Patrick Stewart and Kelsey Grammer have recently appeared as alternate versions of their characters Professor X and Beast in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and The Marvels, respectively. These were standout moments in the 28th and 33rd of the Marvel movies in order, and X-Men ’97 supervising director Jake Castorena admitted to CinemaBlend that he felt “shocked” when he saw them in the theater.

Although X-Men ’97 is a revival of X-Men: The Animated Series, and thus not tied to the MCU continuity, I was nonetheless curious to get Castorena’s thoughts on Professor X and Beast showing up in those aforementioned movies when I spoke to him ahead of the show’s premiere to Disney+ subscribers. On the subject of Charles Xavier, here’s what Castorena said when I asked how he and his team reacted when they saw that version of the character was modeled after Professor X’s look from X-Men: The Animated Series:

We were pretty shocked as everybody else. More or less, it was us hearing the theme song in the theater for the first time going *makes surprised expression*. ‘So are we using that one or do we use our own?’ So internally, it helped us go, ‘Alright, cool, let’s talk.’ But at the end of the day, live-action gets to do their own thing and we get to do ours. That’s the fun part, why be one piece of candy? Why not have all the candy, right?

Between the green suit, floating yellow hoverchair and the X-Men: The Animated Series theme music that briefly played, it’s as if Patrick Stewart was bringing to life the Professor X who mentored the mutant team of superheroes on TV from 1992 to 1997. However, this Professor X hailed from Earth-838, where he served as a member of that world’s Illuminati. Unfortunately, he met a gruesome end at the hands of Earth-616’s Wanda Maximoff, who’d been chasing after her world’s version of Stephen Strange and the universe-traversing America Chavez. Still, you can’t blame Jake Castorena and his coworkers for being “shocked” when they saw this in Multiverse of Madness, and it ultimately pushed them to using the original X-Men theme song, though that didn’t come cheap.

Beast in The Marvels and Professor X in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Beast in The Marvels and Professor X in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

As for Beast, a.k.a. Hank McCoy, he was seen in The Marvels’ end-credits scene explaining to Earth-616’s Monica Rambeau how she’d ended up in a parallel universe; one where a version of her mother, Maria, never had a daughter and is the superhero Binary. Because this Beast looked a lot like the one from X-Men: The Animated Series, I wondered whether Castorena and the X-Men ’97 crew had any say in how he looked or was portrayed. He responded:

Honestly, no, because the cool thing is they have their own sandbox, we have ours. We always look forward to what the live-action MCU’s gonna give us, we’re fans just as much as we are constituents. But at the end of the way, we just have our own separate sandbox. The X-Men ’92 universe, that was the MCU before the MCU became the MCU, so we definitely have our own sandbox and our own playing field that we get to live in.

Sandbox is certainly an apt description, and one that will continue being used for a while since X-Men ’97 has already been renewed for Season 2, and Season 3 is in development. This show is also the rare Marvel Studios project that doesn’t have any ties to the MCU, but Jake Castorena is cool with he and his coworkers getting to operate in their own little corner. Besides, after that Spider-Man easter egg from the first episode, perhaps this show will end up being a platform for all the other ‘90s-era Marvel shows to be revisited, thus carving out another corner of the Marvel multiverse to explore.

Be sure to also read Jake Castorena’s thoughts on the positive fan reactions to Gambit charging Wolverine’s claws, which was included in the X-Men ’97 trailer. New episodes of X-Men ’97 premiere Wednesdays on Disney+ on the 2024 TV schedule, and peruse our upcoming Marvel TV shows guide to learn what else Marvel Studios is preparing for the small screen.