The X-Men are pretty much what got me into comic books. I was a huge X-Men fan as a kid. They've been Marvel's cash cow for decades. They would publish dozens of X-Men titles every month and I used to buy them all. I collected the old Toy Biz action figures and sunk a ton of quarters into the Konami arcade game. The X-Men have made their way onto television screens in multiple incarnations.
The X-Men first appeared in animated form on an episode of the 60's-era "Marvel Superheroes" cartoon. They would make guest appearances on "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends," which starred founding member Iceman. The mutant adventurers would return again in "Pryde of the X-Men," a pilot episode that failed to spinoff into an ongoing series. It wasn't until 1992 that the X-Men would finally become a mainstay of Saturday mornings when their animated series debuted on Fox. The show ended in 1997 and the X-Men wouldn't return to the airwaves until 2000 with "X-Men: Evolution" on Kids' WB. Many of the same creators for that show returned to the X-universe with "Wolverine and the X-Men."
Debuting in the fall of 2008 on Nicktoons, "Wolverine and the X-Men" stayed relatively close to established mythology. The series borrowed from both classic X-Men stories as well as elements from the latest issues. However, the show drifted from Marvel continuity from time to time in order to stand on its own. As you can tell from the title, the biggest change was the focus on Wolverine as the main protagonist and leader of the team. While Wolverine has perennially been one of the most popular members of the X-Men, he's always been more of a loner.
That changes immediately in the pilot episode following a mysterious attack on the Xavier Institute. Professor X and Jean Grey come under psychic attack. Before anyone knows what hit them, an explosion rocks the grounds and leaves the school a shambles. The show picks up a year later with the Professor and Jean still missing and the team disbanded. The X-Men have all gone their separate ways. Colossus and Storm have returned to their homelands. Cyclops hides out in a seedy motel room wallowing in depression. Only Beast remains at the Institute, toiling away in his lab trying to figure out what happened that fateful day.
Anti-mutant sentiment has increased to the point that the government has founded the Mutant Response Division. Spearheaded by Senator Robert Kelly, the MRD is tasked with hunting down and arresting all mutants. Wolverine is forced to reunite the X-Men in order to save mutants being unfairly persecuted. Storm, Beast, and Cyclops come out of retirement and are joined by Shadowcat, Iceman, Nightcrawler, and the reformed villain Emma Frost.
Xavier is eventually found in a coma, but the X-Men are alarmed when they begin receiving telepathic messages from their mentor. The Professor has awoken from his vegetative state twenty years in the future to find a world ravaged by the mutant hunting robots known as Sentinels. Using Cerebro, Professor X is able to communicate with his students in the past to help avert upcoming disasters.
This 3-disc set contains all 26 episodes of the series. The episodes included are:
"Hindsight (Part 1)" – Wolverine puts the band back together after the MRD step up their efforts to round up mutants.
"Hindsight (Part 2)" – The reunited X-Men must stop their former teammate, Rogue, and the Brotherhood in their attempt to assassinate Sen. Robert Kelly.
"Hindsight (Part 3)" – The X-Men battle long-time enemy, Magneto, when they learn Professor X has been found in Genosha.
"Overflow" – The X-Men travel to Africa to prevent its destruction at the hands of Storm who has been possessed by the Shadow King.
"Thieves' Gambit" – The MRD hire Gambit to steal a collar invented by Forge that will neutralize a mutant's powers.
"X-Calibre" – On their way to Genosha, Nightcrawler and some ragtag mutant refugees battle a band of pirates led by Spiral.
"Wolverine vs. the Hulk" – Wolverine is tasked by Nick Fury to tangle with his old sparring partner, the Hulk.
"Time Bomb" – The Brotherhood get their hands on a mutant named Nitro who has the uncontrollable ability to cause massive explosions.
"Future X" – Professor X must free his fellow inmates and retrieve Cerebro before the Sentinels learn how to use its capabilities.
"Greetings from Genosha" – Nightcrawler arrives on Genosha and finds it may not be the mutant paradise it is claimed to be while Mystique attempts to infiltrate the X-Men.
"Past Discretions" – Wolverine tangles with his arch-nemesis, Sabretooth, when he tries to dig up information about his past in the Weapon X program.
"eXcessive Force" – Cyclops goes on a mission of revenge against Mr. Sinister as he desperately searches for Jean Grey.
"Battle Lines" – Magneto sends his Acolytes to free a young mutant girl and unleash her powers to bring her nightmares to life.
"Stolen Lives" – Wolverine reluctantly joins teams up with Mystique to once again delve into the mysteries of Weapon X.
"Hunting Grounds" – Mojo captures Nightcrawler and the Scarlet Witch and pits them against a brainwashed Wolverine.
"Badlands" – Professor X comes across a traumatized Polaris while, in the past, the X-Men infiltrate an MRD facility to learn more about Master Mold.
"Code of Conduct" – Wolverine is forced to duel with the Silver Samurai after he captures the other X-Men.
"Backlash" – The X-Men and the Brotherhood forge an uneasy alliance in order to destroy the Master Mold.
"Guardian Angel" – Angel's wings are torn apart by the MRD and he turns to Mr. Sinister in an attempt to get them back.
"Breakdown" – It's "Eternal Sunshine of the Mutant Mind" when Emma Frost enters Cyclops's mind to erase his memories of Jean Grey.
"Rover" – Professor X and Bishop reprogram a damaged Sentinel to infiltrate their home base.
"Aces and Eights" – Gambit sneaks onto Genosha to steal Magneto's helmet in order to start a war between humans and mutants.
"Shades of Grey" – The X-Men finally locate the missing Jean Grey only to see her snatched away by Mr. Sinister.
"Foresight (Part 1)" – The X-Men are betrayed by Emma Frost as she turns Jean over to the Hellfire Club.
"Foresight (Part 2)" – While the Hellfire Club seeks to extract the Phoenix Force for their own purposes, Magneto reprograms an army of Sentinels to attack the U.S.
"Foresight (Part 3)" – It's war on two fronts as the X-Men and the MRD battle Magneto's Sentinels while Cyclops and Emma try to free Jean of the Phoenix Force.
The video is presented in anamorphic widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The picture quality is clean without any noticeable grain or specks.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Sound comes in crisp and clear.
The DVDs include audio commentary tracks with the series creators for every episode, including two each for the 3-part "Hindsight."
Disc 3 contains the rest of the bonus features. They include two featurettes that aren't as informative as the commentary tracks.
The Inner Circle: Reflections on Wolverine and the X-Men (18:51) is a look at the creation of the show and how it fits within the X-Men mythos.
Making Wolverine and the X-Men (5:15) is a very quick look at the production of the show.
Finally, there's a trailer gallery featuring previews for other Lionsgate releases.
I was a huge fan of the old "X-Men" cartoon, but was disappointed with first couple seasons of "X-Men: Evolution." Therefore, I wasn't expecting much from "Wolverine and the X-Men." Damned if I wasn't pleasantly surprised at how good this show was. The series is faithful to the source material while remaining accessible to newer fans. The animation is well done and every episode is a compelling mix of action and drama. The addition of a parallel storyline with Prof. X in a dystopian future added a new dimension that hadn't been seen before.
Sadly, "Wolverine and the X-Men" did not proceed past the first season. Tentative plans were made for a second season that would have seen the return of Colossus along with the introductions of Jubilee, Apocalypse, and Deadpool. It's a crying shame. Judging by the final episodes, the series looked like it was ready to kick it into another gear.