Without Wolverine

We just finished watching the season finale of X-Men ’97, a series I’d already blogged about with great enthusiasm. I won’t give away any spoilers for those who haven’t caught up or watched at all, but now that all the current episodes have aired there’s something spoiler-free I want to praise about the show. It may even be one of my favorite things about the series.

Wolverine is barely in it.

I mean no disrespect to Wolverine, nor his voice actor (who does a fine job), but Wolverine was already the most famous of the X-Men and he hasn’t exactly been lacking in representation. He’s been the star of every live-action X-Men movie and Hugh Jackman became an overnight sensation after portraying him. Wolverine has had the spotlight for years, an iconic portrayal by a world-class actor, and could have easily been the focus of X-Men ’97.

Instead, X-Men ’97 chose to give the spotlight to the remainder of the team. There are so many colorful and wonderful mutants that haven’t been given their fair chance to shine, and this show gives them the space and the respect they deserve. I believe I speak for all long-suffering fans of Cyclops when I say it’s been a delight to see the team leader finally treated with respect again.

Moving the focus away from the most famous character (and the most reliable money-maker) was a bold choice, but I believe it was the right one. Wolverine’s popularity won’t suffer because he’s spending some time in the supporting cast. He and Deadpool (another character with an iconic portrayal by a world-class actor) have their own movie coming out in a few months, so he can afford to spend some time out of the spotlight in the animated series.

Now other characters can have their potential tapped, and the world can see that there’s more to a roster than the most popular one.