X-Men ‘97 Head Director: “I Wouldn’t Get My Hopes Up For Cassandra Nova”

“I don't think people will be disappointed with our choices.”

x-men 97 wild sentinel from episode 5

The fifth episode of X-Men ‘97 has seemingly launched a million fan theories, but the most popular one is apparently wrong. After the episode, titled “Remember It,” ended with a genocidal Sentinel attack against the mutant island nation of Genosha, viewers have wondered how the wild cliffhanger will resolve itself. Will a time-traveling Cable undo the damage? Is the supervillain Apocalypse behind the surprise attack? Or maybe Mystique? But one name in particular seems to be on everyone’s lips: Cassandra Nova.

An iconic X-Men antagonist first introduced to the comics in 2001, Cassandra Nova is basically Charles Xavier’s evil twin (it’s more complicated than that, but we’ll get into it further down). In the comic book plotline that inspired X-Men ‘97 Episode 5, Nova is also the villain behind this deadly attack on Genosha. So it makes sense that fans thought the cartoon would follow the same arc and introduce the character.

But according to X-Men ‘97’s supervising producer/head director Jake Castorena, fans of Cassandra Nova may want to reset their expectations.

“I wouldn't get my hopes up for Cassandra Nova being a huge villain in our show,” Castorena tells Inverse. “But what I will say is, I don't think people will be disappointed with our choices.”

Cassandra Nova in the comics.


Inverse spoke to Castorena, along with X-Men ‘97 episodic directors Emi Yonemura (Episodes 3, 5, 7, and 9) and Chase Conley (episodes 2, 4, and 6), as part of a press junket timed to the show’s explosive mid-season cliffhanger. We’ll have plenty more to share from that interview in the next few days — including a breakdown of the Rogue-Gambit-Magneto love triangle, what’s up with Storm and Forge, and why Marvel should make an X-Men ‘97 movie — but we couldn’t wait to share this particular detail.

While Cassandra Nova may not play a huge role in this season of X-Men ‘97, the show’s creators spoke enthusiastically about the character in general.

“I love her because she is a challenge for Xavier,” Yonemura says.I really love the tensions that she brings, the whole other level that she brings. I love her character design as well. I cannot say where we go, but I think what's so nice about using the original series and the comics for where we start [is that it] gives us so many options with so many rich characters like Cassandra to get to play with.”

“I like Cassandra Nova for what she ultimately boils down to,” Castorena adds.

But what does Cassandra boil down to? In a word: evil.

Who is Cassandra Nova in X-Men?

And when will she join the MCU?


At her core, Cassandra Nova is the evil mirror image of Professor X, and her only goal in life is to ruin Charles Xavier’s. In the comics, she’s most famous for orchestrating the murder of 16 million mutants on Genosha (aka, the thing that just happened in X-Men ‘97), but she’s appeared multiple times since her original introduction. Cassandra also notably made it onto IGN’s ranking of the 100 greatest comic book villains of all time in 2009, where she was the only character on the list who was created during the 21st century.

Cassandra Nova is technically a “Mummudrai.” In the Marvel universe, this is term coined by the alien race the Shi'ar to describe each person’s “anti-self,” which they must fight on the Astral Plane before being born. And in case that wasn’t strange enough, Cassandra’s origin story is about to get even wilder, so allow me to share a paragraph from Wikipedia rather than try to explain it myself:

“Cassandra Nova began life at the same time as Charles Xavier. Conceived without a body, Cassandra improvised one by copying Xavier's DNA to make her own body, effectively becoming his twin sister. She grew with her brother until she had fully formed hands and eyes, when she decided to try to kìll Charles by attempting to strangle him with his own umbilical cord. Charles defended himself by hitting her with a psychic blast, which caused his mother to have a miscarriage, resulting in her physical body being stillborn. Despite this, the creature survived as chaotic cellular matter that clung to a sewer wall for decades, rebuilding its physical form and perfecting its effort to mimic human traits.”

So yeah, that’s Cassandra Nova. She’s a pretty bizarre character and a top-tier supervillain. And hopefully, even if she doesn’t turn out to be the main antagonist of X-Men ‘97, we’ll see her show up somewhere in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before too long.

X-Men ‘97 is streaming now on Disney+.

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