X-Men:TAS

WOLVERINE GRIEVES FOR MORPH: The Art of Collaboration

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The single most important creative decision we made was killing Morph in the opening two-part story.  Mark Edens and I insisted that we show the audience that what the X-Men do isn’t a game — it has consequences.  Larry Houston and Will Meugniot backed us up.  The only problem was, you just can’t do that on Saturday morning kids shows.  Luckily, Fox Exec Sidney Iwanter lived to make kids shows more real.  He was on board.  Now the tough part.  No TV network censor (Broadcast Standards & Practices department) had ever allowed such a thing.  Luckily for us, we had as our censor an enlightened, comics-loving, story-respecting executive named Avery Cobern.  My first notes from her were what we expected: you can’t do that!  But, as would prove to be the case for four years, she listened.  I meant it when I said the killing was all about the X-Men’s grief, not some fun at seeing Morph die.  We had it happen off-screen.  We experienced it through the eyes of Morph’s friends.  Many cried.  Wolverine punched somebody (another no-no).  But a shared loss brought them together.

The most important moment for me was Wolverine driving off to be alone in his grief.  As Mark and I originally wrote it (see script page and storyboard page below), a story act ended with Wolverine quietly alone, his head lowered.  scr 2, end act 1

scr 2, Wolv alone

Someone — Larry and/or Will — suggested one more image and a line from Wolverine.  They put it in a draft of the storyboard.  As you can see by my red marking below, I didn’t like it as well that way.  As I remember it, we compromised: We would animate and record the final image.  If it didn’t work, we’d end on the quiet shot.  Well, it was just my luck that Cal Dodd, who voiced Wolverine, nailed the quiet, emotional last lines: “I’ll avenge you, Morph.  I swear it.”  So, a combination of director’s eye and actor’s voice won that one (It didn’t happen that often.).  I’m still not sure which I prefer.

I'll Avenge You board

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We’re Eric Lewald & Julia Lewald, two members of the creative force behind the animated X-Men series of the ’90s looking to celebrate and share our appreciation for it with the fan base that made this show the culture-changing mega-hit it is today.

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