“Pryde of the X-Men”
X-Men cartoon pilot, 1989
Seems hard to fathom today, but Marvel tried twice in the 1980s to launch an X-Men cartoon but couldn’t get past a pilot (or a backdoor pilot, in the case of the “X-Men Adventure” episode of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends).
“Pryde of the X-Men” featured a classic team lineup – Professor X, Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Dazzler, Kitty Pryde – and went on to inspire a 1992 arcade game memorable for its great multiplayer action and bad English dubbing (“X-chickens, welcome to die!”).
In the cartoon, Magneto is freed from a military prison by the White Queen and leads the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants – Juggernaut, Pyro, Blob and Toad – on a mission to steal the magical orb that powers Cerebro so he can enhance his powers and take control of a comet hurtling toward Earth because magnets.
The animation style is reminiscent of G.I. Joe, my favorite cartoon from that decade. And for a 20-minute+ pilot, there are some pretty spot-on X-moments. Kitty, the POV character, is afraid of Nightcrawler at first because of his demonic appearance, but she comes to adore the fuzzy elf fairly quickly. Magneto is his classic Silver Age self, right down to verbally abusing Toad. One could even argue that, while underused, the “Pryde” version of Storm is superior to her ’90s cartoon counterpart, in that she doesn’t make a histrionic speech every time she uses her powers. No one’s gonna meet this goddess AT THE MONORAAAAAAAIIIL!!!!
Is it a perfect toon? Oh, heavens, no. There’s plenty to nitpick, which I won’t do here, but it’d be weird if we didn’t point out that Wolverine, whose Canadian-ness is essential to his character, is voiced with an Australian accent. He even calls Toad a dingo at one point. I might appreciate this more if, through some sort of script mix-up, Pyro, who is actually Australian, had been voiced with a Canadian accent. “Ooh, soory I singed you there, eh? Put a Molson on that, it’ll cool right off.”
Financial troubles allegedly kept this version of X-Men from becoming a series, but just three years later, we got what was for many the definitive X-Men cartoon. “Pryde of the X-Men,” however, was nothing if not valiant in the attempt.