Friday, September 26, 2008

First Impressions: Wolverine and the X-Men

The X-Men are animated again, after the '90s cartoon and the more recent (and, in my opinion, better-executed) "X-Men: Evolution". As I understand it, this new series isn't scheduled to air in the States until next year, so I'm not going to discuss it at length, but I got a chance to see the three-part premiere last week and two things seemed noteworthy.

First, there's no introduction to any of the characters: the show assumes, right from the start, that you know who the X-Men are. In fact, the second episode depends heavily on the viewer knowing that Rogue has links to both the X-Men and the Brotherhood. It's a strange approach given that "Wolverine and the X-Men" doesn't seem to follow anything that's come before: not the Singer/Ratner movies, not "Evolution", not the comics. It's fine for me, but I can easily see this show appealing to a wider audience and the lack of exposition might problematize that.

The other noteworthy aspect is that the series takes its premise from a very unusual starting point: one year ago, the Xavier Institute was destroyed by a mysterious blast, Charles Xavier and Jean Grey disappeared off the face of the Earth, and the X-Men have scattered to the four winds. As all this is going on, Senator Robert Kelly gets the Mutant Registration Act approved, mutants are being targeted and arrested on sight, and the Sentinel program is speeding up.

Broadly speaking, it's the opening act of "Days of Future Past". The X-Men have lost, and they're trying to regroup, with Wolverine leading the charge. I have to admit, it's an incredibly unorthodox way to start the story... which makes it all the more intriguing, no? As of the third episode, the team still isn't fully assembled (with former teammates flat-out refusing to return), so it all feels a bit more open-ended than X-Men adaptations usually go. We'll see where it goes...