X-Men '97 proves Marvel Studios should totally embrace the '90s X-Men aesthetic in the MCU

X-Men '97
(Image credit: Disney Plus)

By all appearances, X-Men '97 is a big hit, both with fans and critics alike, managing to walk the razor's edge of appealing to the nostalgia of adults who grew up on X-Men: The Animated Series as well as fans who are just coming to the X-Men now. 

And that's proof positive of the timeless charm of the '90s X-Men, the era of the venerable Marvel franchise in which the team first managed to crossover from comics into the mainstream, leading to the eventual movie success that made them true household names.

Those big '90s X-Men vibes haven't been confined to the new animated streaming series either. In comics, there's an official X-Men '97 spin-off comic which fills in some of the story gaps with the original series, and the mainstream X-Men line is about to reboot this summer with an aesthetic and status quo that will feel particularly familiar to those who grew up with the '90s team.

And of course, Deadpool & Wolverine has finally put Hugh Jackman in yellow spandex (only 24 years since the original joke) and is shaping up to be a whirlwind tour of the original X-Men film franchise.

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Marvel Studios has been teasing us with that '90s X-Men aesthetic for some time now as well, from the aforementioned blue and yellow Wolverine costume, to the cameos we've seen thus far from Patrick Stewart's Charles Xavier in his classic floating chair to Kelsey Grammar's Beast in a straight up comic book translation of his blue-furred look.

Which is why Marvel Studios should fully embrace the '90s X-Men aesthetic when it brings the team to the MCU. I'm talking about the classic Wolverine we see in Deadpool 3, the beloved Jim Lee Cyclops design, and the rest of the team we grew up loving. Give us Rogue in a bomber jacket. Give us Gambit in pink and blue. Give us a loveable, loquacious Beast, a regal and awe-inspiring Storm, and full-on superhero-style Jean Grey.

If Marvel Studios wants to separate its iteration of the X-Men from the previous film franchise, all it needs to do is pick up on the fan-fervor for the new cinematic Wolverine costume, and even the studio's own upcoming X-Men: The Animated Series revival, and give fans the true X-Men X-Men that so many X-fans across the world still picture as the most iconic incarnations of these heroes.

That extends to the villains too. If Magneto's in the mix, put him in his classic Jack Kirby purple and red costume. Put Sabretooth in a bodysuit with a big fur collar. Put Mister Sinister in his weird red and blue strappy cloak. If Mystique comes back, put her in a white dress.

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

In other words, the only thing Marvel Studios has to do to win fans over for the MCU X-Men is embrace what we already love, and what we've still never seen in action after more than a dozen X-Men franchise films: the X-Men as actual superheroes in the classic, colorful Marvel manner.

The previous Fox X-Men franchise teased viewers with the idea a few times. X-Men: First Class had a final shot of Magneto in a bright purple and red costume alongside a more comic-influenced Brotherhood of Evil Mutants - but by the time X-Men: Days of Future Past came around, it was back to updated versions of the original, darker colored leather style movie suits. 

DoFP's sequel X-Men: Apocalypse likewise teased viewers with a single shot of Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Storm, Mystique, Jean Grey, and Quicksilver in comic book-esque suits in its final scene - but those costumes were also long gone, turned back into black jumpsuits or entirely discarded, by the time the final X-Men film, Dark Phoenix, hit the screen.

Beast in The Marvels

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

So it's time for Marvel Studios to pull the trigger and bring the classic X-Men comic and cartoon aesthetic to the big screen. I smiled ear to ear when I saw Hugh Jackman in a comic-style Wolverine costume, and I popped for Beast's big cameo in The Marvels. If Marvel Studios puts the rest of the X-Men in versions of their '90s comic costumes, for their MCU debuts, I might just stand up and cheer.

Did you catch all these Easter eggs, references, and cameos in X-Men '97?

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)