27 Years Later, X-Men Will Finally Explain its Biggest Cliffhanger

What happened after Professor X left?

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X-Men '97

The ’90s X-Men are back! On March 20, Disney+ will drop a new series called X-Men ’97, which is essentially not new at all. In terms of both style and continuity, it appears to be a direct sequel to the beloved ’90s animated series that ran from 1992 to 1997. But it seems Marvel is futzing with the fate of Charles Xavier and adding a new layer to the show’s infamous final episode, “Graduation Day.”

Does this mean X-Men ’97 is changing the events of the original series? Maybe. The trailer includes scenes from the final episode of the original cartoon, “Graduation Day.” In it, a dying Professor X left Earth and entrusted the survival of mutants to the remaining X-Men. And, for almost three decades, that was it for animated X-Men.

We’ve obviously had all sorts of X-Men movies and comics since then, but the continuity of the ’90s animated series hasn’t been revisited until now. What makes X-Men ’97 unique is that it isn’t really a reboot, but a clear continuation of what began in 1992. With that in mind, is one important detail finally getting clarified?

Did Professor X survive the X-Men finale?

If you just watch the trailer’s recap footage, then listen to Magneto talk about Professor X’s will at the end, you’d assume Charles Xavier met his end in “Graduation Day.” But technically, he didn’t. Yes, he was on his deathbed. Yes, he said goodbye to his X-Men. But then Professor X was taken to space by Lilandr, an alien who gave Professor X his floating wheelchair and was his low-key girlfriend.

Lilandra took Professor X into space because the Shi’ar Empire she called home could keep him alive. As far as viewers in 1997 knew, Professor X hadn’t met his demise, but was instead in permanent exile. The show pulled its punch: everything about “Graduation Day” felt like a big loss-of-a-major-character episode, even though he’s technically alive at the end.

Professor X tries to puzzle out the timeline.


Now it seems X-Men ’97 is revising this idea. In the new trailer, Magneto reveals that Xavier’s will gives him the right to everything that belonged to Professor X, which seemingly includes the School For Gifted Youngsters. If Professor X is still alive, Magento can’t invoke his will — right?

Charles could, of course, just come back from space, alive and well thanks to Shi’ar technology. But if X-Men ’97 confirms Professor X is actually dead, the series could be something more than just a nostalgia-bait sequel. It might just end up being the X-Men storyline long-time fans have wanted all along: narratively risky, while also really fun.

X-Men ’97 hits Disney+ on March 20, 2024.

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