‘X-Men ‘97’ Is Fully Leaning Into the “If Evil, Why Hot” Trope

Movies


Editor’s note: The below contains spoilers for X-Men ’97.


The Big Picture

  • X-Men ’97
    ‘s villains like Magneto and Madelyne Pryor are attractive, which makes their ideologies more appealing.
  • Magneto’s physical transformation adds legitimacy to his role leading the X-Men.
  • Madelyne Pryor’s seductive appearance as the Goblin Queen adds depth to her tragic story.

“If evil, why hot?” It’s a legitimate question. How can a villain be so attractive when their actions are extremely dark and often deadly? The best villains are the ones where you understand and agree with their motivations for their actions, deftly easing you into their ideology without raising alarm bells before the execution of their perspective turns violent. An added layer of beauty somehow makes a villain’s plans more palatable — and as appealing as they are.


Marvel is no stranger to casting their villains with attractive actors and actresses. From the Black Panther movies alone, both Erik Kilmonger (Michael B. Jordan) and Namor (Tenoch Huerta) are extremely handsome, yet go about seeking vengeance through destruction. It makes the case that morally, their motivations are understandable — but the means of seeking that justice is less than peaceful. The latest series from Marvel Animation, X-Men ‘97, is also keeping the hot villain train rolling with Magneto, voiced by Matthew Waterson, and most recently, the Goblin Queen herself, Madelyne Pryor, voiced by Jennifer Hale. Magneto and Madelyne are objectively very attractive — for being animated characters, that is — and because of this, we can’t help but be drawn into their causes, even questioning whose side we’re really rooting for.


X-Men ’97

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

Release Date
March 20, 2024

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

Seasons
2

Number of Episodes
10

Streaming Service(s)
Disney+

Franchise(s)
X-Men


Magneto’s Physical Magnetism Adds Legitimacy to His Ideology

Magneto’s self-appointed title as the “master of magnetism” doesn’t just apply to his mutant abilities. On the heels of previous iterations in the live-action X-Men movies by Sir Ian McKellan and Michael Fassbender, X-Men ‘97‘s Magneto is given an animated makeover that renders him lethal in an entirely new way. His broad, muscular physique paired with his shoulder-length gray hair makes him enticing in a way that, frankly, audiences haven’t seen before. His baby blue eyes pierce through any defenses or doubts you’d find about his motivations. Gone are the long-sleeved costume and iconic helmet hiding Erik Lehnsherr’s sculpted body and luscious locks, respectively (and respectfully).


As a reflection of his physical transformation, audiences are also witnessing a change in mindset for the infamous mutant terrorist. After the will of Charles Xavier (Ross Marquand) is recovered, it is revealed that Magneto has inherited the Institute and has been entrusted with leading the X-Men. Right out of the gate in X-Men ‘97, the Magneto we’re treated to is trying to honor his frenemy (and perhaps previous lover?) by committing to the mission of the X-Men — to save mutants and humans alike, in order to foster peace with each other.

When he’s pushed to his breaking point in Episode 2’s “Mutant Liberation Begins,” it looks like Erik will fall back to his villainous ways, just as Cyclops (Ray Chase) has suspected. Instead, Magneto refrains from executing judgment on a bigoted group of bureaucrats. Xavier’s dream has always been bigger than the small-minded view of hatred; yet, it’s the way Magneto shows them mercy that’s equally threatening. Everything Magneto says to the UN council is right, but there’s an undercurrent of violence that can switch to deadly in an instant. His cold demeanor and authoritative speech while holding the UN council hovered in the atmosphere are sinister.


Even though Erik has seemingly turned over a new leaf with the X-Men, there is always something else going on below the surface with Magneto and his plans. He continues to integrate himself with the X-Men team, even rekindling his alliance with Rogue (Lenore Zann). However, it’s only a matter of time before it’s made clear why he so willingly decided to play the role of hero. Once his plans are revealed, it might be difficult to disagree with his perspective — since he’s won over the X-Men, and by extension the audience, earning their trust and arguing for the legitimacy of his violence against the anti-mutant movement.

Related

Excuse Me, ‘X-Men ’97,’ You Didn’t Have To Make Magneto That Hot

But I’m grateful you did.


Madelyne Pryor’s Transformation Into the Goblin Queen Is Seductive

Madelyne Pryor as the Goblin Queen in 'X-Men '97'
Image via Disney+

Magneto isn’t the only villain whose message is being strengthened in part by their looks. Let’s look at Jean Grey’s clone, Madelyne Pryor. While both she and Jean Gray are identical in appearance, the way Madelyne is portrayed as a villain adds to her overall appeal. In Episode 3, “Fire Made Flesh,” Madelyne becomes the Goblin Queen, donning a green bodysuit, thigh-high green boots, and a cape that even Edna Mode (Brad Bird) from The Incredibles would find fashionable. The way Madelyne moves is downright seductive, luring Scott and the others at the behest of Mister Sinister (Chris Britton). Because of her uncanny resemblance to Jean, she’s able to lure Jean’s friends in before she strikes.


However, there’s a tragic aspect to Madelyne’s character, given that both Jean and Madelyne have no clue which of them is the original Jean Grey. The memories they have are in fragments, with neither having the full picture of their lives. They don’t know which of them actually fell in love and married Scott Summers. Madelyne seems to remember her time as the Phoenix, while Jean can replay the moment when she first met Charles Xavier as a little girl. It takes Madelyne recalling the memory of holding her son, Nathan, for the first time for her to break free of Mr. Sinister’s control.

Madelyne’s story doesn’t end with Mr. Sinister’s escape. To save Nathan’s life, he’s taken by Bishop (Isaac Robinson-Smith) to the future, separating him from his parents. Nathan is Madelyne’s connection to love, and with him gone, she decides to leave to start a new beginning for herself — without her ties to Jean. All Madelyne and Jean have are their futures and what they decide to do with them. If Madelyne were to resurface again in another villainous way, it wouldn’t be surprising, considering all the pain she and Jean have carried with them. But we can’t help but sympathize with Madelyne as she tries to make sense of her memories and the world around her.


X-Men ’97 carries the tradition from the original X-Men: The Animated Series of approaching relevant topics and themes that audiences of all ages can digest. There’s nuance to the villains introduced thus far, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that both Magneto and Madelyne are exceptionally good-looking. If the two of them were to join forces later down the road, you’d have a hard time convincing the audience to root against villains as hot as they are.

X-Men ’97 is available to stream on Disney+ in the U.S.

WATCH ON DISNEY+



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