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X-Men 97 lead director Jake Castorena on the “responsibility” of adapting beloved animated series

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The anticipated animated series X-Men ’97 debuts Wednesday on Disney+.

The original X-Men: The Animated Series from the 1990s introduced a whole new generation to Wolverine, Magneto, Storm and the rest of Professor Xavier’s friends and enemies, and sustained the property long before there was a Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Indeed, the unexpected success of the animated series spurred the creation of the first X-Men movie in 2000, helping open the door for the big screen superhero genre.

“If you are of a certain generation. You can go and hum the theme song in a public place, and you’ll get heads turning around, right?” X-Men ’97’s lead director Jake Castorena laughs to ABC Audio.

The new show takes the fan-favorite characters on new adventures but hews closely to the original, from the theme music to character design, because as Castorena says, you don’t mess with a classic.

He adds, “I have the love for the OG show. I mean, that’s part of the whole reason why I started drawing. You know, it was either Batman [The] Animated Series or X-Men: The Animated Series.”

“We are a revival, not a reboot,” Jake explains. “The OG show straight into our show … should all feel like one cohesive thing.”

The veteran animator enthuses, “You know, getting asked to be on any sort of X-Men anything is like, ‘Hell yeah,’ right? But it’s when it’s this X-Men show and it’s ‘Oh, we want to do that X-Men show’… 5, 6-year-old me would be losing his head right now.” 

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