X-Men ‘97’s Biggest Cameo Resolved a Huge Spider-Man Cliffhanger

Anyone up for Spider-Man ‘98?

Rogue, Jubilee, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Storm, and Morph in X-Men '97
Marvel Studios

Well before Marvel started building its Cinematic Universe around them, cameos were common in its properties. Back in the ‘90s, however, they were a casual occurrence. While Marvel’s modern movies use cameos to tease new projects, it was once common for Marvel’s heroes to pop up with zero expectations for the future.

That was especially the case for X-Men. Heroes and villains made cameos across all five seasons of the animated series, and their appearances rarely continued beyond a one-off storyline. Cameos weren’t used to gauge interest in a series or character... but nearly 30 years later, that may no longer be the case.

X-Men ‘97 picks up right where the final episode of X-Men left off, continuing the ‘90s cartoon and resolving some of its biggest questions. Its first season has renewed interest in the team, and with the help of some surprising cameos, it also managed to stoke interest in another Marvel series from the ‘90s: Spider-Man.

X-Men ‘97 reintroduced a handful of beloved Marvel heroes. Could this mean more to come?

Marvel Studios

Though X-Men ‘97 started as a self-contained affair, the series ultimately expanded to reflect a world teeming with superheroes. As the half-Sentinel villain Bastion unleashed an attack against mutants all over the world — and Magneto plunged the world into chaos to stop him — ‘97 showed us how the rest of the superhero population was affected. Ground-level heroes like Spider-Man, Daredevil, and even Cloak and Dagger made appearances, along with Avengers like Iron Man and Black Panther.

But the most surprising cameo of all came in the form of a civilian: Mary Jane Watson. She appears during the climax of the Season 1 finale, “Tolerance Is Extinction - Part 3,” looking on as the X-Men fight to stop an asteroid from hitting Earth. It’s a brief cameo, but given MJ’s last appearance in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, it might be the most important.

In 1998, Spider-Man’s fifth and final season dropped a bombshell on its friendly neighborhood wallcrawler. Peter Parker learned that the Mary Jane he’d fallen in love with was not, in fact, the real MJ, but a clone created by the geneticist Miles Warren. When clone-MJ evaporates in a tragic (but much-memed) scene, Peter teams up with Madame Web to find the real MJ, who was lost somewhere in the multiverse.

Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, and even Flash Thompson appeared in X-Men ‘97.

Marvel Studios

Unfortunately, fans never got to see those adventures or Peter’s reunion with Mary Jane, as Spider-Man was then canceled. But 26 years later, X-Men ‘97 has actually resolved Spider-Man’s big cliffhanger. Former showrunner Beau De Mayo confirmed as much on Twitter, telling fans that Peter had succeeded in finding his universe’s MJ.

That doesn’t make sense chronologically, as Spider-Man aired until 1998 and the X-Men revival takes place in 1997. Still, it’s a satisfying bit of fan service that ties up a loose end that’s been dangling for decades. Unfortunately, there’s no telling whether the cameo is setting the stage for another revival, although fans have been holding out for a new Spider-Man series since it became clear X-Men ‘97 was a hit. The idea of Spider-Man ‘98 might be too tempting for Marvel Animation to pass up — and if it’s anything like the studio’s latest effort, Spidey fans could be in for a treat.

X-Men ‘97 Season 1 is now streaming on Disney+.

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