INFLUENCES

Writers have influences.  TV animation writers are no different.  A number of X-MEN:TAS stories had precursors, dramatic stories or moments or moods that stuck with us and informed our choices for X-MEN storytelling mood and meaning.  I have mentioned that Mark and Michael Edens and I shared a love for Classical Mythology.  People knew how to write heroes back then, in all their flawed glory.  Decisions had consequences, and the more powerful the character, the more humbling the results.  Gods and heroes had emotions, fine and petty, and their actions changed the world.  Movies have provided our era’s mythology, and there were a few whose influence showed up in X-MEN:TAS.  The easiest “homage” to spot is in the two-part “One Man’s Worth.”  In it, we discover a future world condemned to misery for the lack of one person’s influence.  That was the core idea in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the post-World-War-Two classic (1947) that is often wrongly remembered as an upbeat Christmas movie.  To the contrary, Jimmy Stewart is on the brink of suicide (see image below), believing his life has been worthless.  Then, after seeming to have given up, he is offered the opportunity to see what the world would have been like without him: a miserable, hopeless hell.  While our structure was different (we showed the hell first), the point was the same: If one man, Charles Xavier, was removed from the equation of life, civilization would crumble.  He is “worth” that much.  Similarly, we took the heart-breaking idea of a blind person regaining her sight at the possible cost of losing her affection for her savior from Chaplain’s “City Lights” (1931).  In our story, “Beauty and the Beast,” the problem is mutancy, not class.  But the personal stakes are the same.  Finally there is the fan-noticed “almost cursing” of Wolverine.  Of course we couldn’t have a character curse in a kids’ show.  But Wolverine is a world-weary, crusty old bastard who doesn’t suffer fools at all.  In a contemporary movie or book, he would curse like a sailor.  We had to improvise.  Luckily, we were all fans of classic Western movies, from the ’40s through the ’60s, where hardened men fought and died without an “F***” allowed.  So, fans of Peckinpah’s “The Wild Bunch” (1969) will notice Wolverine’s references to “egg-sucking gutter trash” and smile.  To further quote that movie — and our own Cyclops in X-MEN:TAS episode 13 —  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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