X-Men: The Final Shows

Written by Rob Allstetter

The X-Men are getting a television makeover.

The FOX Network's X-Men animated series is ending its run at 76 episodes, with the last six episodes tentatively scheduled to air during the May sweeps.  Those final episodes will include a World War II story teaming Captain American and Wolverine, the return of Apocalypse, the origin of Mr. Sinister, the TV introduction of Cannonball, and, in the grand finale, an emotional story with Professor Xavier lying on his deathbed.

But perhaps even more interesting is the fact that those episodes, now being produced directly at Saban Entertainment after Graz Entertainment closed up shop, will have a different look to them: new character designs, backgrounds, and color schemes.

"We're pushing it to the limit to get it to where we want it," said new producer Tom McLaughlin, an animation veteran whose recent credits include Batman, Fantastic Four, and Superman.  "We want to see something different and something cool."

Don't expect Wolverine to start wearing green or anything that radical.  In some ways, it's like a new artist has been brought in.  Think of the show as looking less like Jim Lee's X-Men and more like Joe Madureira's.

"We've simplified certain things," said McLaughlin.  "We've made things a little more graphic and easy to read."

"It's really freshening up the look," said Dan Veesenmeyer, a storyboard artist who has worked on numerous episodes.

Jubilee has the biggest makeover.  She's thinner and taller, more along the lines of her current appearance in the Generation X series.  Like the other female X-Men, she also sports a new hairstyle.  Most of the hairstyles aren't quite as big as before, and they tend to flow straight down.

Cyclops' costume is now blue on the outside and black on the inside, similar to what McLaughlin did to the uniforms on the second season of Fanastic Four.  Wolverine is more stocky, with bigger feet.

McLaughlin is also excited about the types of stories in the final six shows.


"We have three time pieces, and we tried to do the backgrounds to set up a little more atmosphere," he said.  "These stories are not about 8,000 characters trying to blow each other's heads off.  If you watch Batman and Superman, there's pacing, which I think we have here."

"It will be a teary goodbye," McLaughlin promised.

"It's really, really special," added Veesenmeyer.  "If there's one cel to get for the entire series, it would be from the final scene."

These will definitely be the last episodes of the series, but sources have said that the X-Men franchise won't be disappearing from the animation scene.  No deals have been struck yet, but possibilites include a totally retooled X-Men show featuring some different characters, an X-Men spinoff like X-Force or a show spotlighting X-Men characters like Wolverine, Gambit, or Cable in solo adventures.

McLaughlin would be all for doing new X-Men adventures.  "I had a ball doing the last six," he said.  "I wish I could have done more."

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