X-Men ‘97 Could Introduce — and Even Fix — A Controversial Comic Villain

Are we witnessing the coming of Onslaught?

Beast (voiced by George Buza) in X-Men '97
Marvel Studios

There’s been no shortage of horrifying villains causing mayhem in X-Men ‘97 — but believe it or not, the new animated series has yet to introduce its biggest threat. With just one episode left in its first season — and a second already in development — X-Men ‘97 isn’t shy about what’s coming around the corner.

Based on what’s going down in its three-part finale, “Tolerance Is Extinction,” it seems like an even bigger, and very divisive Marvel villain is making a comeback. And in doing so, it’s possible that X-Men ‘97’s Season 1 finale is setting up the Season 2 big bad with shocking ramifications. Spoilers ahead for X-Men ‘97 episodes 1-9.

X-Men ‘97’s latest arc has been adapting a handful of X-Men comic arcs, but “Tolerance Is Extinction” leans hard into its “Fatal Attractions” inspirations, bringing Wolverine’s conflict with Magneto to a definitive head. X-Men ‘97’s penultimate episode sees Magneto removing the adamantium coating from Wolverine’s very skeleton. In the comics, this act inspires two notable developments: the introduction of Feral Wolverine, and the creation of the villain Onslaught.

The comics’ origin of Onslaught

After “Tolerance Is Extinction,” Magneto might be the least of the X-Men’s worries.

Marvel Studios

Onslaught’s origins are as wiggy as they come. He is essentially a psychic hybrid between Magneto and Professor Charles Xavier; a byproduct of Xavier’s own choice to wipe Magneto’s memory. In X-Men (Vol. 2) #25, after the Master of Magnetism forcibly removes the metal from Wolverine’s body, Professor X decides he’s had enough of his old friend’s cycle of violence. When he wipes Magneto’s mind, he ends up “infected” by a portion of Magneto’s evil. That plants the seed for the introduction of Onslaught, but the villain wouldn’t manifest for another two years, with 1995’s Uncanny X-Men #322.

Onslaught is essentially created when Magneto’s psyche bonds with the dark side of Xavier’s. Once he finds a way to manifest a physical form, he wastes no time wreaking havoc. He punches Juggernaut (y’know, the unstoppable force) so hard he crosses state lines — and while Magneto is out of commission, he takes up his quest for mutant supremacy.

The X-Men have fought their fair share of impossible battles before, but Onslaught is simply too powerful for the team to take on alone. They’re forced to team up with members of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, especially after Onslaught captures Franklin Richards, the mutant son of Reed Richards and Sue Storm. With the power the entity amasses, Onslaught becomes immune to mutant attacks. A handful of human heroes make the ultimate sacrifice, weakening Onslaught long enough for the X-Men to destroy him.

Not everyone’s favorite Marvel villain

Onslaught is virtually unstoppable, which presents the X-Men and its writers with a considerable challenge.


The age of Onslaught is one of the least popular arcs in X-Men history, particularly because of the casualties it sired. Key members of the Avengers and even the Fantastic Four are seemingly killed trying to stop Onslaught but are later transported in a pocket dimension thanks to Franklin’s reality-warping abilities. Onslaught paved the way for the Heroes Reborn crossover in 1996, an infamous (and messy) reboot that most comic readers would rather forget. The event would be reversed just a year later, with The Return, which brought Marvel’s Universe right back to the status quo.

For the X-Men, life after Onslaught was just as bleak. The unstoppable psychic entity only worsened anti-mutant sentiment around the world: in the comics, it actually paved the way for Bastion to enact Operation Zero Tolerance. X-Men ‘97 introduces the villain with this plan already underway, so it’ll be interesting to see how Bastion will fit into the ongoing story... especially if the series actually plans to bring Onslaught into the fold.

The X-Men could face their scariest villain yet in Onslaught... but can X-Men ‘97 avoid the pitfalls of the comics?

Marvel Studios

X-Men ‘97 hasn’t been afraid to embrace every corner of the team’s comic history, even the stories that have been poorly received. With “Tolerance Is Extinction - Part 2,” the coming of Onslaught is all but inevitable. That might cause some fans to groan, but there’s a sense that the villain might serve a better purpose in the context of the series.

Onslaught was essentially used to reboot the Marvel Universe; he was as much a villain for the Avengers as he was for the X-Men. What role does he play in a storyline that belongs almost exclusively to the mutant team? We likely won’t find out until Season 2, but given X-Men ‘97’s track record, this could be the most exciting storyline yet.

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

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