Marvel"s X-Men TV Show Can Finally Fix A Powerful Mutant The Original Series Snubbed

  • Jean Grey's portrayal in the original X-Men series fell short of her Omega-level power status in Marvel Comics.
  • X-Men '97 should correct Jean's weak characterization by showcasing her true potential and strength.
  • X-Men '97 may be hinting at a controversial plot twist involving Jean's pregnancy, mirroring Madelyn Pryor's storyline.
As a revival of X-Men: The Animated series, X-Men '97 doesn't just have the chance to continue the original series but also fix some of its flaws, and it should start with the show's depiction of Jean Grey. Jean Grey's depiction in the original X-Men TV series has become somewhat infamous for the way it portrayed the popular X-Men member, and this depiction has only aged more poorly since the hero has been developed even further in Marvel Comics over the years.
The Jean Grey of the original X-Men series was a far cry from the Omega-level powerhouse that Marvel Comics readers are used to now. Part of this has to do with how Jean was written in the comics originally, but that doesn't mean X-Men is completely blameless in how it depicted her. After all, animated series can often rehab the images of characters, the way Batman: The Animated Series did for Mister Freeze. Given that Jean has grown over the years, X-Men '97 has no excuse not to correct how she was portrayed in the original series.
Jean Grey Wasn't As Powerful As She Should Be In X-Men: The Animated Series Close In Marvel Comics, Jean Grey is what's known as an Omega Level Mutant, which Professor Xavier defined as a mutant whose abilities had unlimited potential in X-Men Forever #3 by Fabian Nicieza, Kevin Maguire, Andrew Pepoy, and Paul Mounts. However, this potential is rarely seen in the original X-Men series outside the Dark Phoenix Saga. In fact, Jean is often seen struggling just to use her powers for relatively minor tasks. Worse still, she often faints from over exerting herself doing things like lifting a pillar, while other characters do the same thing and are completely fine.
Aside from frequent fainting spells, Jean was also frequently targeted by enemies and injured. Not only did this also contribute to the idea that her character was weaker than her other teammates, it also led to her often being used more as a way to motivate characters like Cyclops or Wolverine than it was in the service of telling a story about Jean. This has led audiences on Reddit to go so far as to call her useless in the show, and point out that she often feels more like a plot device or even just a prop than a character in her own right.
Jean's X-Men TV Show Character Mirrors Her Comics Origins Although Jean Grey has become a more well-rounded character in Marvel Comics, she didn't start out that way. In fact, some of her earliest appearances have some similarities to her X-Men: The Animated Series portrayal. Likely because her powers are more difficult to visualize, Jean - initially called Marvel Girl - wasn't shown helping as much during fights in her early appearances. Jean was also frequently objectified, starting almost immediately when she first appeared in X-Men #1 by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.
Jean Grey didn't start becoming a more interesting character until Chris Claremont started writing X-Men comics. Perhaps Claremont's most notable contribution to Jean's character was the "Dark Phoenix Saga", which sought to flesh out just how strong Jean was and also delve further into how such powers would affect the psyche of their wielder.
However, by the time Dark Phoenix happened in the '80s, there had already been about 20 years worth of precedents for Jean Grey's less than flattering characterization. It seems that X-Men: The Animated Series leaned more heavily into the original depiction of her character, but as this limits her characterization, this decision appears to be something of a mistake that X-Men '97 should correct. Seeing as Jean has been a more fleshed out character for decades now, establishing more of her personality and potential shouldn't be too challenging for the follow-up series.
X-Men '97 May Be Setting Up Jean As Another Victim Custom Image by Quinn Levandoski X-Men '97
Cast Jennifer Hale , Chris Potter , Alison Sealy-Smith , Lenore Zann , Cal Dodd , Catherine Disher , Adrian Hough , Ray Chase , Chris Britton , George Buza Release Date March 20, 2024 Franchise(s) X-Men Writers Beau DeMayo Directors Jake Castorena Creator(s) Beau DeMayo Where To Watch Disney Plus Although X-Men '97 will hopefully improve Jean's character, there is speculation that it might be doing the exact opposite. Due to Jean being pregnant in the show, something that never happened in the comics, fans have speculated that Jean Grey has been replaced by Madelyn Pryor, who notably has a storyline involving her pregnancy.
Pryor is a clone of Jean who shows up in the comics after Jean has died, which would allow her to replace Jean without audiences becoming fully aware of the plotline until the show releases, setting up for an effective plot twist. If X-Men '97 is following this storyline, it would mean that Jean is either dead or missing at the beginning of the show. Instead of improving her character, this would go back to making her a plot device.
Hopefully, Jean's pregnancy is just a new route that X-Men '97 is exploring, and not actually an adaptation of the Madelyn Pryor story, in order to allow the character time to shine. Seeing as Pryor is usually Cable's mom in the comics, and Cable has a different origin in X-Men: The Animated Series, it wouldn't be the first time the show used elements of her story while excluding Pryor herself, and it would be well worth avoiding this plot for the time being to give X-Men '97 the change to update Jean's character.


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