X-Men ‘97 Executive Producer Shares Which Death From The Original Show Was More ‘Impactful’ For Him Than Game Of Thrones’ Ned Stark

 Sean Bean on Game of Thrones.
Sean Bean on Game of Thrones.

When it comes to surprise TV killings, Ned Stark on Game of Thrones ranks pretty high. After arguably being positioned as Season 1’s main protagonist, Sean Bean’s character was beheaded on King Joffrey’s orders, making “Baelor” one of the Game of Thrones episodes with the most meaningful deaths. However, for Brad Winderbaum, X-Men ’97 producer and Marvel Studios’ Head of TV, Streaming, and Animation, Morph’s death on X-Men: The Animated Series, one of the best animated TV shows of all time, was more “impactful”: Morph’s.

During my interview with Winderbaum about X-Men ’97, which has finally premiered to Disney+ subscribers, after he talked about the two things that were “needed” to make the revival happen, I asked if changes in small screen censorship since the 1990s allowed X-Men ’97’s creative team to get a bit more intense with the material. Here’s what he had to say:

There was an ability to, I think, fulfill the promise of the X-Men. The X-Men is a story about characters that live in a complicated world like our own. And thematically, to tell any X-Men story is to honor that aspect of it, in my opinion. But the truth is, it’s no more tense than the original show. I remember very clearly Morph dying onscreen in the original series and how impactful that was. People talk about Ned Stark on Game of Thrones; to me, Morph was the more impactful death. And there was something about that original series on Fox Kids after school that it felt like it met the audience where it was at. It wasn’t a kids show that talked down to you, it was a kids show that honored you as a human and honored the way you saw the world outside your window and let you know that other people saw it too. Even though you’re a kid still finding your voice, you’re not alone. And if there’s one thing the new show could revive, I hope it’s that.

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Originally known as Changeling in the comics, Morph (real name Kevin Sydney) appeared in X-Men: The Animated Series’ opening two-parter “Night of the Sentinels” as an established member of the team, and was shown to be particularly close to Wolverine. However, in the show’s second episode, Morph was killed by Sentinels as the team was trying to flee after destroying files about mutants at the Mutant Registration Program’s headquarters. So as someone who was watching X-Men: The Animated Series at a young age, it’s understandable why Morph’s death has stuck with Brad Winderbaum for all this time. As he sees it, it was just one of the ways the show didn’t talk down to its core audience.

There’s just one thing: unlike Ned Stark, Morph didn’t stay dead in X-Men: The Animated Series. In Season 2, it was revealed that Mister Sinister resurrected the shapeshifting mutant and brainwashed him into one of his minions. This resulted in Morph developing two personalities: the one who still cared for his teammates, and the one who wanted to see them destroyed. The good news is that Morph was eventually able to break from Sinister’s control and mentally recover over time, although he suffered PTSD from the experience.

In even better news, Morph is back to being a regular team member in X-Men ’97, with the character’s standard appearance now more closely resembling his pale, hairless look from the comics, and he also identifies as non-binary. We’ll see what other threats he and the X-Men have to face as new episodes premiere Wednesdays on Disney+, and in addition to Season 2 already being greenlit, Season 3 is being planned. You can also look over the upcoming Marvel TV shows that are coming down the creative pipeline.