The original 1990s X-Men is hot shit. I remember tuning into Fox for my dose of Saturday morning cartoons (do they still have those?) and being super stoked to see what was going on with my favorite mutants. Remember how Gambit was always trying to creep up Rogue’s knickers? She would be all, “No, dude. I cannot be touched. Touching me will KILL you.” Then Gambit would be all, whatevz and kiss her. Then he would be all, “ARGH! The pain!” It was so good. Sucks to be Rogue, Gambit was the resident mutant hottie. He was dangerous. He gambled. He was a ginger. That’s cray.
More than the sordid love affairs I loved what X-Men stood for. Cartoons in the ’90s were more than just children’s entertainment, they were really artistic mediums that were used to convey complex ideas to young viewers. X-Men not only stood for diversity, but was very feminist. All of the women were much more powerful than their male counterparts. Rogue was physically strong, could snatch up anyone’s power, and was lethal to the touch. Storm was always quick to save the day by controlling MOTHER NATURE – hello! And of course we all know how mighty Jean Grey/Phoenix was. She was essentially the most powerful character in the show’s history.
The men, Wolverine, Cyclops and Gambit, were hotheads and pushovers. Cyclops who was “the leader” just told people what to do and then they were like, “LOL STFU” and did the opposite of what he said. Wolverine and Gambit were essentially poop-stirrers that made every situation worse. Then the women and Professor X would have to clean up their mess. Beast, however, was awesome. If you pay attention throughout the series you’ll find him reading classic literature and quoting Shakespeare. All of those tiny allusions to the works of theorist and writers help make X-Men the complexly beautiful show that it was.
On top of all this wonderfulness, X-Men was a metaphor for the sordid human history of racism, genocide, and racial oppression. Magneto, a survivor of anti-semitism in Nazi Germany often represents a militant Malcom-X approach to reconciling the struggle of how marginalized groups of people seek justice, while Professor X is inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. who looked toward a peaceful resolution. Watching X-Men you’ll notice a diverse group of people with different nationalities, struggles and religions. The mutants, who are routinely shunned from society, are often degraded as non-human. Similar views were held about Jewish and African American people who were regarded as subhuman – this screwed up thinking resulted in genocide and slavery. X-Men was willing to tackle these complicated issues by using superheroes as metaphors.
X-Men ultimately conveys the beautiful message: Yeah people may not understand you, they may even hate you, but it’s because they’ve failed to realize that you’re a human too.
Check out the very first episode below and watch the rest on Youtube.
[Image Via. Fan Pop]