X-Men ‘97’s Runtime is Delightfully Nontraditional

A half-hour cartoon, for real this time.

An animated image featuring a team of diverse superheroes standing ready for action in front of a wa...
Marvel Animation

X-Men ‘97 is meant to replicate the feeling of the original X-Men: The Animated Series, the classic half-hour Saturday morning cartoon. There are only two big issues: it’s not premiering on Saturday mornings, and it’s not a half-hour. Recently leaked runtimes reveal that X-Men ‘97 is deviating from its predecessors’ episode lengths, but this could actually be the show’s smartest move.

According to @Cryptic4KQual on Twitter, a leaker who’s correctly predicted the length of every major Disney+ release, the first three episodes will have runtimes of 28:30, 28:39, and 23:33, respectively. Throw in two minutes of credits, and the first two episodes will stretch past the 30-minute mark.

X-Men ‘97’s first two episodes will both be a little longer than 30 minutes.

Marvel Animation

Each episode is much longer than the original X-Men cartoon, which, once you subtract eight minutes of commercials, only hit 22 minutes, including credits. While this is a deviation from the animation norm, it’s a definite plus for the series overall.

The streaming era has generally made runtime limits a thing of the past. The Mandalorian has had episodes as short as 33 minutes and as long as 59 minutes. Stranger Things started as an hour-long drama, while its Season 4 finale expanded to a staggering 2.5 hours, essentially a movie in all but name. Why not let cartoons stretch their legs a little too?

X-Men ‘97 has the freedom to do what X-Men: The Animated Series never could.

Marvel Animation

By limiting the episodes to 30 minutes, X-Men ‘97 should preserve the short-and-sweet element of the original series. However, with no need to make room for commercials, an extra eight minutes can be devoted to story if necessary. Considering how varied the series’ storylines appear set to be, the runtimes are likely to vary just as much.

The third episode being much shorter than the first two suggests the season will open and close with big event episodes, while telling some simpler stories in the middle. That’s a luxury the original series never had. X-Men ‘97 may be devoted to authenticity, but authenticity doesn’t have to mean sticking to outdated rules. With this new approach, the X-Men can change with the times, and enjoy adventures that have the pacing they deserve.

X-Men ‘97 premieres March 20 on Disney+.

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