X-Men ’97 Director Talks Remixing Madelyne Pryor’s Introduction

We’re officially halfway through X-Men ’97, and the Marvel Animation series has become an interesting reflection of Marvel Comics mythos. One of the early surprises of X-Men ’97‘s first season was the introduction of Madelyne Pryor (Jennifer Hale), a genetically-engineered clone of Jean Grey who discovers her true origin and transforms into the powerful Goblin Queen. Madelyne’s role in the show has taken some liberties from the comics, and now we have a bit more insight as to how that became a reality. In a recent interview with ComicBook.com, X-Men ’97 director Emi Yonemura spoke about trying to subvert expectations in the dichotomy between Madelyne and Jean, and also grounding Madelyne’s story in her unique journey of motherhood.

“One reason I was brought on to the show was to make sure that I give a good proper female voice,” Yonemura explained in our interview, which you can check out above. “Now, I do identify as trans, but there was something so important of just understanding this place of femininity. But also, I never wanted it to feel like we were pitting two women against each other, because I hate that trope. And I also feel like, if I met a clone of me, I feel like I would just want to ask so many questions of myself. I would want to get to know me and be like, ‘Okay, let’s actually have a chat.'”

“One thing that I really cherished about that episode was working with my editor Michelle on it, because she was also a recent mom,” Yoneumura continued. “As we were going through it, and kind of finding what is the defining difference between these two women, and ‘How can we kind of find this moment to heal Madelyne?’ It was talking about Nathan and her motherhood. It wasn’t something that I could necessarily relate to as well as Michelle could. So it was great to be able to collaborate with her on it and find ‘What’s that moment?’ Ttalking about how giving birth to her child was one of the hardest things she’s ever done, but it was also one of her favorite memories. I thought that is just so beautiful. I want to bring that in. And now Madelyne is definitely one of my favorite characters. I just think she’s a boss. So, it was a true pleasure to be able to tell a female story without, necessarily, a stereotypical male gaze on it. These are two very accomplished, very powerful women. How do we bring honor to that?”

Who Is Marvel’s Madelyne Pryor?

Created by Chris Claremont and Paul Smith in 1983’s Uncanny X-Men #168, Madelyne Pryor is initially introduced as a cargo pilot in Alaska, who meets and falls in love with Scott Summers / Cyclops. Despite drawing an uncanny resemblance to Jean, who had died and disappeared during the events of The Dark Phoenix Saga, Madelyne quickly made it clear that she was her own woman, eventually marrying Scott and becoming the mother of Nathaniel Summers / Cable. For some time, Madelyne existed as a civilian on the periphery of the X-Men, but she briefly gained superpowers from Loki, becoming Anodyne. After Nathaniel is born, Madelyne and Scott settle in to a quiet life in Alaska, until Scott grows unhappy and leaves to form the X-Factor. Madelyne is then nearly killed by the Marauders, but rescued and brought back into the fold of the X-Men.

Eventually, Madelyne learns that Jean is alive, and is driven to madness by the demon S’ym. She then learns that she is a genetically-engineered clone of Jean, who was created by Mr. Sinister and awakened after Jean’s death. She then participates in Sinister’s Inferno torture of the X-Men and is presumed dead. She eventually returns and becomes a member of the Hellfire Club, eventually becoming the group’s Red Queen. She most recently factored into Marvel’s Hellions and New Mutants titles, as well as the “Dark Web” event.

What Is X-Men ’97 About?

Marvel Animation’s X-Men ’97 revisits the iconic era of the 1990s as The X-Men, a band of mutants who use their uncanny gifts to protect a world that hates and fears them, are challenged like never before, forced to face a dangerous and unexpected new future.

The voice cast of X-Men ’97 includes Ray Chase as Cyclops, Jennifer Hale as Jean Grey, Alison Sealy-Smith as Storm, Cal Dodd as Wolverine, JP Karliak as Morph, Lenore Zann as Rogue, George Buza as Beast, AJ LoCascio as Gambit, Holly Chou as Jubilee, Isaac Robinson-Smith as Bishop, Matthew Waterson as Magneto, and Adrian Hough as Nightcrawler. Beau DeMayo served as head writer; episodes are directed by Jake Castorena, Chase Conley and Emi Yonemura, and the series is executive produced by Brad Winderbaum, Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso and DeMayo.

New episodes of X-Men ’97 debut on Wednesdays exclusively on Disney+. If you haven’t signed up for Disney+ yet, you can try it out here.

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