Everyone's favorite mutants are coming to TV. The X-Men, Marvel Comics' legendary team of super-powered outcasts, are getting an extreme makeover in a gritty and dynamic new animated series premiering tonight at 11/10c on gaming/geek-themed cable network G4.
Following the success of Iron Man and Wolverine, which premiered this past summer, X-Men is the third in a series of Marvel anime shows on the network. (A fourth show, Blade, starring Lost's Harold Perrineau, launches in January.) Based on story outlines by writer Warren Ellis — who created acclaimed comic books The Authority, Planetary, Transmetropolitan, Global Frequency and Red — the half-hour episodes were animated by Japanese production company Madhouse, the studio behind Supernatural: The Anime Series.
Having already starred in live-action films and traditional animated programs, anime was the next logical step in the franchise's evolution, according to Cort Lane, Marvel Entertainment's vice president of animation development and production. "Our adult fans are always clamoring for shows that speak to them. And partnering with Madhouse seemed like a great way to do that, to create adult-targeted animation," Lane says. "We specifically picked properties that took advantage of the strengths of anime. Anime action is so visceral and with the X-Men you definitely want to deliver that." The action and dialogue are a bit edgier than most superhero cartoons.
X-Men features the fan favorites Wolverine, Storm, Beast, Professor Xavier, Emma Frost and Cyclops, voiced by Friday Night Lights vet (and noted comic-book fan) Scott Porter. The team travels to Japan to rescue a teenage girl named Hisako Ichiki, who will eventually become Armor, a character who first appeared in Joss Whedon's run of the Astonishing X-Men comic book in 2004. Over the course of the 12 episodes, fans can expect nods to classic comic-book stories, including an opening segment based on what is arguably the most famous story, "The Dark Phoenix Saga."
"What I love about this show is, even though it's a new twist [on the X-Men], there are hints at some of the classic late '70s and early '80s stories throughout the season," Lane says. "Fanboys will get a lot of rewarding stuff." And, he teases, the door will be left open for a second season: "There's a little bit of a cliffhanger after the credits of episode 12, which is typical of Marvel."
To give you a taste of the tone of the series, here's an exclusive clip from episode 6:
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