Why Can’t Our Girl Rogue Catch a Break on ‘X-Men ‘97’?


Editor's Note: The following contains spoilers for X-Men '97 Episode 5.

The big picture

  • X-Men '97
    goes deeper into Rogue's character than
    X-Men: The Animated Series,
    bringing her resilience, heartbreak and self-acceptance to the forefront of the story.
  • While Rogue deserves happiness after a lifetime of trauma, she faces even more devastating losses in Episode 5.
  • Episode 5's purposeful and impactful storytelling highlights Rogue's complexity and moral resolve and sets the stage for her future journey.

The X-Men have tortured pasts. Pain is part of the mutant experience and reinforces the franchise's purpose as sociopolitical allegory. This means that the X-Men also have turbulent lives. Appropriately, X-Men '97 he has not spared in the anguish. Everyone is mourning Charles Xavier (Ross Marquand), his life-changing mentor. Scott Summers (Ray Chase) and Madelyne Pryor (Jennifer Hale) send their sick newborn into the future. Jean Gray (Hale) is recovering from her kidnapping while Storm (Alison Sealy-Smith) navigates a different emotional and physical violation: a world without his powers. However, after episode 5, '97 ensures that no member of the team alive has it worse than our beloved Rogue (Lenore Zann), the best of all the best girls.

A woman beset by lifelong pain, things were looking up for Rogue for a literally hot minute when Magneto (Matthew Waterson), Rogue's ex-boyfriend and an encapsulation of the “stupid sexy Flanders” meme, re-entered her life. (Danger room booked and occupied. Enough is enough.) Episode 5, titled “Remember It,” gives Rogue the much-deserved space to identify her feelings and, in doing so, become to discover herself. It has the high-intensity impact of a soap opera, but centers Rogue's hopes, the lasting effects of her trauma, and her tireless compassion as things crucial to the backbone of the narrative. It's clear that two men are fighting gallantly for their affections, because who can't adore this woman? She loves with all her soul. The Southern Belle with a fist of steel wouldn't hurt a fly unless she had no choice. She dedicates her life to protecting both mutants and humans.

Episode 5 then mercilessly deprives Rogue of her love interests one after the other. Of the three X-Men who visit Genosha, Rogue is the only survivor. Cradling Gambit's (AJ LoCascio) corpse, his breathless sob of “I Can't Hear You” is a couple's agony WandaVision. This is an oddly apt comparison, considering how Rogue and Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) lives are caught in loops of tragedy. Let's be clear: I eat drama with a spoon. X-Men '97 giving Rogue the attention she deserves delights the fan favorite X-Men character for the past 15 years has been (you guessed it) Rogue. But with respect: why so much pain? (Because drama requires conflict, I know. Still.) '97 better restore my girl's happiness. Send her on a trip, but don't metaphorically make me your metaphorical house of toilet paper either.

X-Men '97

A band of mutants use their strange gifts to protect a world that hates and fears them; they are challenged like never before, forced to face a dangerous and unexpected future.

Publication date
March 20, 2024

Jennifer Hale, Cal Dodd, Chris Potter, Catherine Disher, Adrian Hough, Ray Chase, Lenore Zann


Number of episodes

Streaming service(s).

X Men

What is Rogue's past in 'X-Men '97'?

Rogue gets her hair done in X-Men '97
Image via Marvel Entertainment

Before X-Men '97, Rogue's life was a recurring tragedy. His mutant ability to absorb anyone's powers, memories, and knowledge proved both a gift and a curse. Unable to control his power, Rogue is unable to touch anyone without endangering their lives. When a teenage Rogue kissed her first boyfriend, she fell into a coma. Rogue ran away from her abusive father and survived on her own for a while, only to be discovered by the evil Mystique (Jennifer Dale).

To Mystique's credit, she loved Rogue like a daughter. Rogue knew her as “Mama” and the leader of the Brotherhood of Mutants kept her safe. Through Mystique's mentorship (and that of Magneto, who precipitated her romance with Rogue), Rogue grew to understand her abilities. However, Mystique still manipulated Rogue into hurting others, which in turn hurt Rogue: permanently absorbing Ms. Marvel caused Rogue immense psychological suffering. Charles Xavier's intervention helped her heal. Now aware of the Brotherhood's malicious intentions, he abandoned them and joined the X-Men.


'X-Men '97' may have just revealed its big villain

And it's a huge throwback to the original comics.

Although Rogue's fellow X-Men respected her (and, in Gambit's case, adored the ground she flew over), she couldn't escape her physical isolation and the emotional loneliness that came with it . In a moment of desperation, he considered giving up his powers. The event reunited her with Mystique, which gave Rogue catharsis, but worsened her alienation and the deep guilt Rogue carried for unintentionally hurting innocent people.

Every turn, Rogue can't win. He has denied her a first kiss. She lost her teenage love and then Magneto, her first adult love, to their different ideologies. He discovered his true family (the X-Men) only after his biological father and adoptive mother exploited him. Events that the villains could cite as origin stories only cemented Rogue's heroism. Despite having every reason to hate the world, his heart has a galaxy's worth of love.

Rogue takes center stage in 'X-Men '97'

Entering X-Men '97, Rogue seems confident in his identity. The appointment of Magneto as the team's new leader stirs the pot in more ways than one. Rogue craves connection. Erik offers her this physically and emotionally, which functions as another desperately needed emotion: hope. Hope for happiness, contentment, comfort, absolute acceptance – the list goes on. Except that X Men; Rogue's new opportunity for fulfillment breaks Gambit's heart. If Magneto is the one who escaped, Gambit is the one who stays by Rogue's side despite keeping him at arm's length. Rogue accidentally hurts too many people to risk adding Gambit, the man she loves despite her reluctance, to the list. Erik's return helps Rogue overcome these fears and realize that true love transcends mere touch. After four episodes of immense inner conflict, she chooses her Cajun rake, which makes Rogue finally accept herself.

As soon as Rogue's decision leaves her lips, the Sentinels demolish Genosha. She desperately tries to protect Magneto; their efforts are in vain. Their eyes meet, and Rogue watches as she (possibly) dies. Minutes later, Sentinel himself impales Gambito. The first time Rogue and her true love can safely touch skin to skin, she “can't feel him”. This, after earlier stating that even though she knows Gambit's heart beats for her, “I can't feel it,” and minutes after Rogue had decided to love him fearlessly. The questions pile up like a barrel of monkeys: Is there a worse outcome for Rogue? Can this poor woman have even an ounce of lasting happiness? Who do I personally plead my case to?

Comic book character deaths are as common as sneezes. For the animated ones X Men, this personalized destruction is uncharted territory. It is likely '97 it will reverse at least one if not both deaths. There's just as much chance that the series will further subvert our expectations by letting heavy ramifications get stuck. Episodic Director Emi Yonemura told IGN, “It was the thesis statement all along knowing that we have to earn the loss and that it has to mean something and then that has to be taken very gently.” Supervising Director Jake Castorena he added, “Ideally, our goal is not to desensitize the audience to the violence, but to be emotionally consumed by it, to live in this true realm of how our characters live it.” Gambit and Magneto's deaths serve a purpose, and Rogue is the more benevolent and resilient X Men character through which to represent grief.

Can Rogue just have a happy ending, please?

Rogue tearfully cradles Gambit's body in a smoking crevasse in X-Men '97
Image: Disney+

Of course, the intentionality of Episode 5 doesn't make the situation hurt any less. Here's more evidence that Rogue can't win. The truth is that this level of agony is fascinating and cool. X-Men '97 has gone to kill more than X-Men: The Animated Series done for five seasons. Rogue's heartbroken fury, tear-streaked face and hair redder than flames gives birth to a version of her we've never seen on screen before. X-Men '97 intensely draws the interiority of each individual with an intimate and convincing touch. In the best way, the creators' love for the characters bleeds through the frame. So does the heart of the extraordinary Lenore Zann, the actress whose voice guided our childhoods, echoes in our comic-reading minds, and comforts our adulthood as we watch. '97 deploy Zann's tender ferocity is as much a miracle as the excruciating agony she captures with a one-line reading, deserving of every award on the planet.

The actress comforted devastated fans and teased Rogue's future in an interview with the “To me, my X-Men” podcast: “We're all going to heal together,” she said. “I mean, we're going on a big ride now. It's not over yet. Buckle up. Rogue is just getting started.” These statements generate more burning curiosities: will his heartbreak manifest itself in an emotional collapse? Vengeful rage? In the end, their moral resolve will prevail, or I'll eat my hat. But what happens before that? Rogue is a survivor. His heart of gold is constantly melted and reforged through fire. His journey is now as uncharted as the narrative. I'm sure X-Men '97 will weave a story with a remarkable reward, but still: let Rogue be happy, please and thank you. She deserves the world, the world doesn't deserve her selfless work, and few characters deserve more peace. Besides, she's only mine favorite, okay? That's, like, reason enough.

New episodes of X-Men '97 premieres every Wednesday on Disney+.

Watch on Disney+


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *