10 X-Men: The Animated Series Episodes for MCU Fans

The introduction of the X-Men and mutantkind into the MCU was, for a long time, a point of extreme speculation. Now, that reality might not be too far off. This year at SDCC, Marvel confirmed the X-Men ’97 release date will be fall 2023. This show will be a sequel series to the endlessly popular X-Men: The Animated Series.

Back in 1992, X-Men: The Animated Series debuted. For many fans, this was an entry point into the world of Marvel mutants. For others, it was a chance to see their favorites in action long before the MCU existed. More recently, the word “mutation” was said during the finale of Ms. Marvel. Plus, Professor Charles Xavier was part of the Illuminati who confronted Scarlet Witch in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

While the details around these revelations have yet to be fully explored, it certainly gives us an answer about whether mutants will eventually be included in the MCU. In the meantime, let’s look at some of the best X-Men: TAS episodes for fans of the MCU.

“Time Fugitives” (Season 2, Episode 7)

X-Men stories love their time travel, and this episode features Bishop, who has come back from the future to warn the X-Men of a traitor in their midst — Gambit! During this episode we also get to see Nick Fury and War Machine.

“A Rogue’s Tale” (Season 2, Episode 9)

This episode takes a nose dive into Rogue’s tragic past, including the traumatic awakening of her powers as well as her mother Mystique’s manipulation. When Rogue formerly worked with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Mystique coached her into stealing the powers of Carol Danvers, known then as Ms. Marvel. However, this theft would have high-flying consequences for Rogue as well as Carol.

“The Phoenix Saga – Part IV: Starjammers” / “Part V: Child of Light” (Season 3, Episode 6 & 7)

You know we had to. A list of X-Men: TAS episodes without something featuring Jean Grey as Phoenix and plenty of opportunities for Jean and Scott to yell each other’s names is simply impossible. JEEEEaN! SCoTTTTTT!

At the beginning of the Phoenix Saga, however, Jean is not yet the villain. “Starjammers” has Jean even leave Earth so she is not a danger to anyone, though her power is sensed by Emma Frost, Captain Britain, and Doctor Strange. Instead, the immense power of the M’Krann Crystal is threatening the universe, and “Child of Light” shows multiple heroes attempting to protect the planet, including Spider-Man and War Machine.

“The Dark Phoenix, Part III” (Season 3, Episode 16)

Once Jean transitions from Phoenix to Dark Phoenix, the melodrama really begins! As her fiery powers overwhelm the X-Men, Dark Phoenix’s energy signatures are picked up once again by Doctor Strange, Thor, and Uatu the Watcher. They all sense the cosmic energy disturbance from the Phoenix Force — and we all get to enjoy Jean’s deranged Dark Phoenix voice.

“Sanctuary, Part 1 & 2” (Season 4, Episode 4)

When Magneto’s plan to establish a safe haven for mutants, called Asteroid M, fails disastrously, the refuge falls to Earth. Luckily, Asteroid M lands in the ocean. Since the asteroid’s landing is off the coast of Africa, viewers are given a quick flash of Black Panther observing from afar, who also watched when Magneto first sent the asteroid into orbit.

“Xavier Remembers” (Season 4, Episode 5)

Though this episode doesn’t feature any high-profile cameos from MCU favorites, it is an interesting study of the beginnings of the X-Men team (according to the animated series’ universe). Considering we’ve already been introduced to an Xavier in the MCU, it’s possible this sort of telepathically-induced flashback could one day be used to show the team’s origins on the big screen.

“Nightcrawler” (Season 4, Episode 8)

This episode features the very definition of blink-and-you-miss-it cameos for a whole trio of characters. While Rogue and Gambit are canoodling in the ski lodge, Wolverine feels restless on their trip to Germany. He decides to investigate local tales of a demon (who turns out to be Nightcrawler). Near the beginning of the episode, as the focus pans to our X-Men trio, we catch brief glimpses of Mary Jane Watson then Doctor Strange and Clea.

“One Man’s Worth, Part 1 of 2” (Season 4, Episode 9)

This two-episode arc is an adaptation of the Age of Apocalypse comics, in which an alternate reality shows Apocalypse’s reign. The X-Men sport completely different looks from their regular costumes but they’re not the only ones with makeovers. An alternate version of the Avengers also briefly shows up for a fight. This roster includes the familiar lineup of Captain America, Iron Man, Wasp, Giant Man, and Black Widow plus Hercules, Daredevil, and Scarlet Spider.

“Family Ties” (Season 4, Episode 13)

In the comics and on the screen, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff’s family is always a bit of a mess. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are always twins but over the years their parental lineage as well as Wanda’s children have been stuck in some chaotic storytelling. This episode shows Wanda and Pietro learning that Magneto is their father as they all struggle to break free from the High Evolutionary in Wundagore.

“Old Soldiers” (Season 5, Episode 3)

In a flashback episode, Wolverine revisits his past. During World War II, before he had taken part in the Weapon X Program, Logan went on a covert mission with none other than Captain America. Both heroes poke fun at themselves and we see Logan using claw gloves for the first time — it’s a good thing he likes the “can openers” because he’ll be spending a whole lot of time with them in the future.

Many of these non-mutant appearances in X-Men: The Animated Series were cameos. Their brief features in montages or flashbacks could even be called Easter eggs, like when Morph shifts into Deadpool in “Whatever It Takes” or when the Punisher shows up in “Mojovision.” The Hulk is even part of a Danger Room simulation in “The Juggernaut Returns” — now that would be a smashing standoff!

Hopefully, the future of the MCU will be free of all those pesky licensing agreements from the ’90s to the ’00s. And with that, we’ll get even more epic, super-powered showdowns of our favorite comic characters.

What (or who) do you hope to see happen in X-Men ’97? Keep the conversation going over at side.show/geekgroup, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!