X-Men ‘97’s Post Credits Scene Could Redeem The Worst X-Men Movie

The Age of Apocalypse is upon us once again.

Rogue stands with the X-Men in X-Men '97
Marvel Studios

No one expected X-Men ‘97 to go as hard as it did. The animated series felt like yet another excuse to capitalize on some noughties nostalgia and curb some of the superhero fatigue that’s been plaguing Marvel Studios of late. It definitely ended up doing the latter, as ‘97 might be one of the best superhero projects of the past five years — but it largely sheds the safe trappings of nostalgia in favor of something much more radical.

X-Men ‘97 subverted fan’s expectations at every turn, and that rings especially true for its finale. Rather than leaning into familiar comic arcs like “E Is For Extinction” or “Fatal Attractions,” the series delivers a fresh spin on a painfully familiar storyline. The Season 1 finale, “Tolerance Is Extinction,” brings back a villain that most X-Men fans — novice or otherwise — should be familiar with. X-Men ‘97 is circling back to the Age of Apocalypse, but unlike other X-Men adaptations that have come and gone, it could be the best version of the villain yet. Spoilers ahead for all of X-Men ‘97 Season 1.

What happens in X-Men ‘97’s post-credit scene?

X-Men ‘97 sets up a trippy second season... and reintroduces an iconic villain.

Marvel Studios

X-Men ‘97’s three-part finale leaves our team scattered across space and time. The X-Men manage to save the world from the potential destruction of Asteroid M, but are pulled through time immediately after. Cyclops and Jean Grey are sent to the future, where their son Nathan (aka Cable) is growing up, while another splinter of the team — Rogue, Nightcrawler, Beast, Professor X, and Magneto — are pulled back to Egypt, circa 3000 BC. It’s there that the group encounter En Sabah Nur, the world’s very first mutant, destined to become the ruthless villain Apocalypse.

Apocalypse has been a thorn in the X-Men’s side across several eras in history. He was also a recurring villain in the original X-Men series... and X-Men ‘97’s post-credit scene doesn’t let us forget the threat he poses in the present, either. Back in the main timeline, Apocalypse is actually seen in Genosha, picking through the ruins of the fallen city. “So much pain, my children,” he declares, “So much... death.”

Apocalypse’s last words succinctly tease the conflict to come, especially since he’s seen finding one of Gambit’s playing cards out of the dust and rubble. Gambit notably sacrificed himself to stop the massive Sentinel from destroying Genosha in Episode 5, “Remember It,” and the episodes that followed seemed to present that death as permanent. For someone like Apocalypse though, death is just a tool to be embraced. As the villain gears up for yet another attempt at world domination, he might resurrect Gambit to do his bidding.

Apocalypse’s Four Horsemen

With Apocalypse’s appearance in X-Men ‘97’s finale, it’s clear that the series is set to bring Gambit back — though not in a way that anyone expected.

Marvel Studios

Across the years, Apocalypse has tapped a handful of mutants to serve as his “horsemen.” It’s a play on a group of biblical figures from the New Testament: the personifications of death, famine, conquest, and war. In the Marvel Universe, Apocalypse is always assisted by four mutants, each representing one of the four horsemen.

Gambit served Apocalypse as the Horsemen of the Death in “Blood of Apocalypse,” a 2006 storyline by Peter Milligan and Salvador Larroca. Though Apocalypse occasionally coerces mutants through psychic manipulation, Gambit joined his team willingly, hoping to thwart the villain’s latest scheme and save mutant-kind. That plan backfires, however, and Gambit does do a fair bit of damage to the X-Men. He’s later able to break Apocalypse’s psychic hold with the help of Mister Sinister, but his time as Death is a dark chapter for the character.

Gambit might also serve the villain alongside a different member of the X-Men: Wolverine. After losing his adamantium coating in Episode 9, Wolverine’s also headed for a dark storyline. In the comics, his adamantium was restored by Apocalypse himself, and he also briefly served as the Horseman of Death. He could easily represent another horseman, like War or Conquest, but either way, X-Men ‘97 could be adapting a handful of Apocalypse storylines for Season 2.

History repeats

X-Men ‘97 has a chance to redeem the image of Apocalypse, and deliver a story that does the villain justice.

20th Century Studios

Though Apocalypse is one of the X-Men’s most notorious villains, he wasn’t familiar to novices until he popped up in live-action. In 2016, X-Men: Apocalypse brought the immortal mutant center stage... though not in a way that anyone hoped for. Fox’s X-Men saga has produced its fair share of duds, but Apocalypse was a particular low-point. It touched on key comic arcs — like the creation of Archangel, or the rise of the Phoenix Force — without really giving them the space they needed to breathe. Eight years on, it still leaves a bad taste in the mouth, but X-Men ‘97 has the opportunity to redeem the villain and deliver a truly satisfying storyline.

X-Men ‘97 Season 2 will undoubtedly have its hands full: with the eponymous team scattered to the winds, the series is taking a major swing. Fortunately, the creative team seems to be grounding the upcoming storylines with a common enemy. It’s definitely ambitious, but based on what X-Men ‘97 has accomplished with just 10 episodes, Apocalypse seems to be in good hands.

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

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