Let me start by saying that the purpose of this is not to bash X-men Evolution again. I did that enough not long ago. This also is not replacing the bonus review for this month. That’ll probably go up next week. Nor do I actually think anyone high up within either Disney or Marvel is going to actually see this. No, this is about the core concept of Evolution. Because I do think the idea of a more light-hearted X-men show about the younger characters coming into their own could have been fantastic. So, here is how I would have handled the concept had I been in charge.
Let’s start with the basic world building elements. First off, I would not have the existence of mutants be a secret. With mutants who have obvious physical symptoms like Nightcrawler or Toad as well as those who would definitely abuse their powers, or those mutants like Cyclops who can’t control theirs, it just doesn’t make sense for ordinary citizens to just be ignorant of them.
In terms of Xavier’s school, I would have it be set up as a dorm for scholarship students at a prestigious private school. The private school would be run by someone familiar to comic fans and close to Xavier, probably Moira MacTaggert since she has shown the inclination for that sort of work in the comics and she’s a well known figure to any X-men fans. There would be rumours that the scholarship students at his dorm were all mutants, but there would be no proof.
Xavier’s dorms would also be the secret home of the adult X-men who would act as trainers and support for the main characters. These characters would not get episodes dedicated to them since the premise does favour the teen characters. The four characters I’d use in this capacity would be Cyclops (Scott Summers), Marvel Girl (Jean Grey), Wolverine (Logan) & Banshee (Sean Cassidy.)
I would portray Scott and Jean as Xavier’s first students and use them as the sort of ideal figures his current students can look up to. Logan would be their toughest trainer who also acts as a father figure when one of them is feeling more vulnerable. Like he did in the comics with Shadowcat, Rogue & Jubilee. There are a couple reasons I’d use Banshee. The first is his connection with Moira & Xavier. The second is that his background as a detective could lead to him having some nice insights for the students. The third I’ll go into when I talk about my main cast. I’ll stick to eight characters since that’s enough to have a good array of abilities and a strong ensemble cast without having so many it’s unwieldy.
As for the main figures, the students, I’d start with Storm (Ororo Munroe). She’d make a strong leader for the group and she was close to the right age when she started in the comics. You could play her up as both a big sister figure and as a bit of a punk since the comics have strong support for both. Hell, there was a point where she actually was acting as team leader, being a “big sister figure” and sporting a mohawk and leather. I wouldn’t actually give her that look since it’s way too 80s, but the mentality could work.
I would put in Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde) as one of the younger members of the main group. Not only does she have a close connection with Storm in the comics that you could adapt but her being a somewhat awkward genius could be used for quite a bit of material.
Next would be Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner). I probably would do the Evolution thing and give him an image inducer. I wouldn’t act like his wearing gloves could disguise the fact that he only has three fingers on each hand, but him having the inducer isn’t a bad idea. Not only does he have a long history with both Ororo & Kitty to draw material from, but you could play up his more swashbuckling side and have a lot of fun with it. It would be a fun element for children and a nice nod to the comics.
My next pick would be Colossus (Piotr Rasputin.) Partly, this is because of his history with the other three. But I also think it would be interesting to have a major character who’s large, powerfully built and also incredibly gentle and artistically inclined.
My next choices would be Wolfsbane (Rahne Sinclair) & Mirage (Danielle Moonstar.) The reason I bring these two up together is that so much of why I would include them, ties into their dynamic. One of the best parts of the New Mutants was Dani & Rahne’s relationship. They had such a close, touching bond. And a very, very gay one. Cause Claremont wanted to make them a couple, but Marvel editorial wouldn’t allow it. And I think it would be interesting to explore their relationship from the start in a more modern era where very few people are going to complain about them being an official couple.
Pick number seven would be Siryn (Theresa Rourke Cassidy.) This is the last reason I’d have Banshee in a supporting role. Because there haven’t been a lot of really good comics that have explored this father/daughter relationship. Any time they get started, Banshee seems to die. Plus, I think it would be interesting to show a teenage Theresa react to her father starting a romance with Moira.
My final choice would be Angel (Warren Worthington III.) First off, his character hasn’t gotten much of a spotlight in cartoons. Secondly, he is an interesting character. He has some of the hallmarks of a rich, play boy but he also has a strong sense of responsibility & justice. Plus, I think it would be interesting to see a religious boy like Kurt to respond to an angelic figure like Warren. Especially when they’ve both got their mischievous sides. I would probably have the two of them become close friends and cause some light mischief.
I’d add in characters like Illyana Rasputin, Gambit & Yukio as occasional supporting figures. Since Illyana is close to both her elder brother and Kitty. Gambit could be played up as a good-hearted scoundrel figure who manages to better himself through encounters with the group. Yukio has a history of bringing out the wildness in Storm in the comics, so I think bringing her in as Ororo’s best friend could be quite interesting.
For some reoccurring antagonists, I would give Mystique her own Brotherhood. I’d basically set it up so that she & Destiny were training some older mutant teenagers for mercenary work. And it would be based on the assumption that they’d be more loyal if she taught them at that age. This would include Pyro, Blob, Avalanche & Phantazia. Rogue would also be seen with this group since her adoptive mothers would be running it. Although Mystique would try to keep her out of harm’s way, considering her too young.
I’d bring Rogue in as a supporting figure for the X-men by having her discover that Nightcrawler is Mystique’s son and decide to get close to her brother. But she wouldn’t tell him that and he’d have no idea why she was so keen on spending time with him. I think you could get a lot of story mileage out of that.
Magneto and his acolytes would be shown as foes the X-men have faced. But the characters you’d mostly see from that group would be his children, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. I’d keep the Maximov surname for them and basically have it be their mother’s maiden name. There would be at least one scene where he’d talk to them about why they can’t use his name and he’d say something like: “Ever since I lost your mother, I learned how dangerous my work can be for those around me. You two are my greatest treasures. If things go wrong and something happens to me, I want you to have long, fulfilling lives. Not be immediate targets for anyone who has a vendetta against me. That’s why you must keep your mother’s name. It’s safer… cleaner for you.”
You would see Exodus being left in charge of watching the twins but there would be a running thing where they ditch him and end up coming into contact with the X-men group.
In terms of how I’d handle their adventures, I’d take a page out of the writing for the New Mutants, since they were also a younger group of mutants who weren’t supposed to fight. The main group would either be going about their business and get caught up in something or they’d catch wind of something and decide that the adult team was too busy or that they could handle it themselves.
I’d avoid threats that were too severe like Apocalypse since it is supposed to be more light-hearted and I’d just have fun with it. Because I think those eight major characters combined with their various supports could provide a lot of potential stories. And some very strong ones. You could also do some that were just a bit silly and fun but made sense for the characters. Like, you could have Quicksilver decide that he needs to find a nice Jewish girl to date in honour of his nationality and try to romance Kitty even though he’s not actually that interested in her. That could be really funny depending on execution.
But that’s the basic outline of how I’d handle a series with that premise. Hell, if there were an X-men cartoon like that on Disney+, I’d watch it. I’d even get a subscription if it was available here. Although I’m sure that’s coming.