GOD IN A SATURDAY MORNING ACTION-ADVENTURE CARTOON

I’d never seen it — focusing on the question of God’s existence in a Saturday morning cartoon.  But I couldn’t help but ask if we could try.  The story for “Nightcrawler” came about in the usual way.  I looked through a list of the major X-MEN characters that we had yet to introduce.  Kurt Wagner, true to character, lept out at me.  Here was a mutant superhero whose major defining trait was that he was a devout Christian!  Exploring that would lead to a unique TAS story.  The challenge was that TV networks live or die by keeping their advertisers and viewers happy.  Parents are particularly sensitive to what is being shown to their children, and religion is the most sensitive topic of all.  The usual kids-TV rule is to not mention of it and to show no images of it, period.  Luckily, my Fox Kids Network supervisor, Sidney Iwanter, is a born troublemaker.  Sid insisted we do it.  So we sent the idea — complete with images of the guest lead character looking like a devil with a tail — to our Broadcast Standards censor, Avery Cobern.  It took her a week or two to get over the shock, but gradually, in her courageous wisdom, she came around to letting us show her that we could do a sensitive job.  We specifically hired a writer who was interested in exploring issues of faith, our old friend Len Uhley, to do the script.  Of course then we pushed it.  Not only did we show Nightcrawler  to be a devout Christian, we introduced him as someone confronting our series star, Wolverine, who had lost his faith.  We set the story in a monastery, which we burn down.  We show Gambit proclaim he’s an unrepentant unbeliever.  Yet in the end, Kurt Wagner’s words resonate with our world-weary star, Logan, and the final images are of an astonished, conflicted Rogue watching Wolverine kneeling in church.  Faith and Saturday Morning superheroes: never before and never again…

nightcrawler-biblewolvie-church

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