WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN Heroes Return Trilogy DVD Review

     May 6, 2009

Written by Ben Begley

I have been the biggest X-Men fan since I was old enough to read. It was the first comic I ever picked up and I still buy issues monthly. I’ve seen the original 90’s cartoon more times than I can count, all 76 episodes. I couldn’t really get into X-Men Evolution when that came out, so my television has been void of X-Men action for awhile. When I heard they were making a new X-Men cartoon and that Wolverine (my favorite tortured hero of all time!!) was going to be the lead, I nearly crapped my pants with excitement (it’s a nervous habit, doctors are still working on). SO after viewing the opening trilogy of episodes, does this show live up to the biggest X-nerd’s standards?? Hell yes!!

Wolverine and the X-Men starts off with a bang, literally, when Professor Xavier and Jean Grey disappear in a mysterious explosion. Time passes and the X-Men have disbanded bringing Wolverine back to his loner roots, but he can’t ignore the hero inside of him. Enter the MRD (Mutant Response Division), a ruthless government organization spearheaded by Senator Robert Kelley, who have started detaining mutants and making them register their powers (kind of like this season of “Heroes” only better because it’s the X-Men). Wolverine and Beast team up to try and reunite the X-Men in response to the growing threat of Sentinels and fanatic government agencies. Along the way there is an alcoholic Cyclops, an attempted political assassination, Rogue switching to the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and a whole lot of momentum built up for one kick-ass first season. I forgot to mention an awesome scene where the X-Men go to try and rescue Charles from Genosha, where Magneto now offers a safe haven for mutants from the persecution of mankind (Genosha used to be a prison camp filled with mutant hunting Sentinels, now it’s their refuge. I like the twist!). Magneto is still at his likeably antagonistic best, he’s the bad guy, but he also has a good point. Mankind fears mutants and they will destroy what they fear, Magneto chooses the more violent approach to the same issue. The Yin to the X-Men’s Yang, you have to have both sides or the other won’t exist. Enough existential stuff, this show is awesome!!

The animation is top notch, looks a bit like X-Men Evolution, but higher quality, kind of that new wave of American Anime style. The voice acting is great and very reminiscent of the acting in the original series. The stories take from the comics and add their own new twist, while still doing justice to the original source material (unlike a certain movie in theatres right now). It feels like an X-Men comic. Epic and adventurous with really well defined characters. Each episode has just the right mixture of story that moves the plot along on a continued through line and action. There are a ton of actions scenes that are exciting, especially for a cartoon. Marvel and everyone involved have really raised the bar for superhero cartoons and I really think this will be up there with Batman, Justice League, and the 90’s X-Men as one of the best renditions of a comic book to “kids” form. Even though this is a “kid’s” show, it doesn’t feel like one. The issues and plot lines are smart and there is no dumbing down of the stakes involved in the struggle between man and mutant. I really need to see the rest of this season, because I hear Gambit makes an appearance, there’s a Weapon X story, and Wolverine fights Hulk. How awesome does that sound??

I think I have geeked out enough about the first three episodes of this show. One last thing for all you skeptics out there thinking, “how could Wolverine possibly lead the X-Men?” That is one of the main issues of character conflict in this show, Cyclops no longer has the strength to lead and Wolverine is struggling to hold the team together. Dramatic conflict! If you’re an X-Men fan or just a fan of good animated storytelling, check out Wolverine and the X-Men. I’m done rambling now…

Special Features:

Nicktoons Network Going InScene: Featurette about the storyline and characters and what went into creating this show. Short, but entertaining.

Character Profiles: 30 second TV commercials about each character getting people stoked to see the show!

Making of Wolverine and The X-Men: concepts and how it came to be, including interviews with some of the creators and voice talent. Once again, short but good.

2 Audio Commentary with the creators that shed more light on the revamping of a cartoon franchise

Show: A

Features: B

Overall: A

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