Who knew that there was such an X-MEN:TAS-friendly day? Not me. Whose heroes are more super than ours? You can go back to Homer and the Bible, and our team of misfits holds its own. Thousands of superheroes have come and gone over the millennia; the best struggle and suffer great tragedy. Compelling interest in larger-than-life myth and legend endures. A superhero’s gotta do what a superhero’s gotta do. Here’s thanks that the heroic ideal has survived all these years and that, through the X-Men, we were able to participate in the storytelling. Happy National Superheroes Day.
We were pleased to see this morning that the web was buzzing with the news that “The Dark Phoenix Saga” is to become Fox’s tenth X-MEN movie. Among the 76 episodes that we produced for X-Men:TAS, this was one of only three stories we were asked to directly adapt for the screen (along with “Days of Future Past” and “The Phoenix Saga”). There is always a challenge when adapting an admired or beloved story: fans have expectations. For our 88-minute animated version, we greatly streamlined — paring away interweaving stories within the run of books (#129-137) — concentrating on Jean and the X-Men’s effort to save her. I’m curious how the feature folks will tell the story in a 2-1/2 hour movie. It’s funny to look back and realize that on kids TV we couldn’t even call the villains “The Hellfire Club” as the comics did (network censors), and we surely couldn’t have Jean/Phoenix devouring inhabited planets. But we were allowed great spectacle, and, more important, great emotions among the X-Men team as serious sacrifices were contemplated. Here’s hoping the new “Dark Phoenix” takes the story even further.
We were pleased to be two of the guests on a panel this year at WonderCon titled: “The Psychology of Animated Series.” The hosts of the long-running “Arkham Sessions” podcast, Dr. Andrea Letamendi and Brian Ward (pictured left), hosted. We and two other, uh, veteran writers (Henry Gilroy and David Wise) were asked to discuss the psychology of some of the characters for whom we had written. Our hosts specialize in the original Batman:TAS, for which Henry and David have both written. Henry has many credits within the Star Wars animated universe, and David was the heart and soul behind the original Mutant Ninja Turtles. Since the four of us together must have a thousand produced TV credits, there was lots of superhero psychology to discuss. One simple distinction that came up was that writers for Batman:TAS tended to focus on the inner workings of the guest villains (the famous “Rogues’ Gallery”), where on X-MEN:TAS we focused on the psyches of the team members. It makes sense: there only a single Batman to figure out; we had nine X-Men, complete with extended families, old friends, and spurned lovers. Some episodes we had enough going on with our core cast that there wasn’t a villain at all. It is always gratifying to meet fans and answer questions about what went into the making of X-MEN:TAS. Now back to the book….