X-Men ‘97 Just Proved that Forge is Seriously Underrated

With “Lifedeath — Part 1,” the animated series is teasing another trippy backstory.

Storm (voiced by Alison Sealy-Smith) is confronted by The Adversary in X-Men '97
Marvel Animation

Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is not averse to creative liberties, especially in live-action. MCU films tend to fudge or ignore comic book storylines, and it’s rare for the franchise to present a 1:1 adaptation of its source material. That’s not necessarily bad, but it can lead to less-than-satisfactory origin stories for characters that deserve better.

So far, X-Men ’97 has avoided this issue, as the animated series has sped through some of the comics’ most unwieldy storylines in just four episodes. It’s taken a few liberties, particularly where characters like Madelyne Pryor are concerned, but X-Men ’97 is mostly skewing close to the events of the comics. That even extends to its latest addition, Forge, and his complex comic book origins. Spoilers ahead for Episode 4!

“Lifedeath” tells the first chapter of an ambitious origin story.

Marvel Animation

“Lifedeath — Part 1,” catches up with a recently de-powered Storm. Forge approached her at the end of Episode 3, claiming to have the resources to get her weather-wielding powers back. She’s been living with him ever since, going for long horseback rides and enjoying his home-cooked meals.

It’s unclear how long Storm and Forge have been together, but enough time has passed for the pair to develop feelings. Their budding relationship hits a snag, however, when Forge tells Storm about a dark chapter of his past. Throughout “Lifedeath,” Forge speaks vaguely about his role in a war (in the comics, it was the Vietnam War). The conflict clearly took a toll on him: he lost a leg and arm, and saw friends die in battle.

Forge then became a contractor for the U.S. Defense Department, and his designs influenced the weapons that took Storm’s powers. But that’s not the only part of his past that comes back to bite him.

Storm tries to... well, storm off after hearing this, but she’s confronted by a huge demonic owl before she can make an exit. It introduces itself as The Adversary, attacks Forge, and transports Storm into a creepy alternate dimension, laying the groundwork for a trippy altercation in “Lifedeath — Part 2.”

The Adversary plays an interesting role in Forge’s backstory. Will X-Men ‘97 explore all of it?

Marvel Animation

This cliffhanger, while surprising, skews close to the comics. The Adversary is known as the Great Trickster to the Cheyenne tribe, and since Forge was once a Cheyenne shaman, he’s been training to fight beings like the Adversary since childhood. Instead, after the enemy wiped out his squad in Vietnam, he summons the Adversary to get revenge. The entity first appears in Uncanny X-Men #188, and though Forge is able to send him back to his native dimension, the Adversary eventually returns years later to wreak havoc on Earth.

In Uncanny X-Men #220, Forge and Storm find themselves imprisoned by the Adversary. It takes the X-Men’s combined efforts to defeat the Adversary, but they have to sacrifice their own lives to enact the spell that banishes him. They eventually come back to life, and the full story is rather involved. Whether X-Men ’97 will adapt every aspect remains to be seen, but the fact that the series is willing to introduce the Adversary at all speaks to its commitment to the comics.

Forge’s history with the Adversary is a complicated one that involves magic, death, and a heady dose of indigenous folklore. X-Men stories have always been ambitious, and it’s nice to see Marvel try to embrace a major comic storyline as best it can. We won’t get the full scope of Forge’s backstory until “Lifedeath — Part 2” premieres on April 10, but X-Men ’97 has already justified its decision to explore an overlooked hero and his wild origin story.

X-Men ’97 is streaming on Disney+.

Related Tags