Watching X-Men: The Animated Series was a very important part of our week. We all had our favorite heroes, our favorite villains, and our favorite episodes. It didn't matter if we had already seen it five times, because we were absolutely going to watch it again and again.
The thing is, even though we loved watching it, there was actually a lot of drama going on behind the scenes. The popular cartoon had issues with toys, casting, and the network, but as kids we never noticed any of that.
Now that we are all grown up, (technically, we are still kids at heart) we can finally dig deep into the background of our favorite cartoon and see just how hard it was to make.
1. Casting was not easy
Showrunner Eric Lewald, revealed just how bad the casting process was. "Our first casting session was awful. It was just worthless. It was like Scooby Doo X-Men.
The casting directors sent down multiple people for the roles, but none worked. "They were really, really wrong. We tried to convey to them what was different about X-Men, and they didn't hear it. They thought, "They want to do something goofy and childish." They didn’t get it. So we had to send a bunch of people up and completely redo it [the casting] from scratch."
They redid the entire pilot four times before they were satisfied.
2. Fox hated their plan for a serialized show
The creators wanted the show to have a running plot, but Fox hated this idea. They only let them do it for the first 13 episodes, but then after that they wanted the stories completely contained in one singular episode.
"If it's live action, by the end of the day of recording you know if you've got the scenes or not," Lewald explained. "But when you wait three or four months to get the animation back, the problem is it comes back so close to air time. If something is wrong with one of them, the whole schedule is screwed."
He also revealed it was why the premiere date was pushed back. "It was one of the reasons the show was delayed until January for the actual premiere [the pilot showed as a special preview Oct. 31]. Then, [the studio] looked at us and said, 'Do you know how much it cost us to delay this thing? We're not going to do stories in a row again.'"
3. They didn't have as big of a budget to work with
Especially when it was compared to other superhero cartoons, X-Men didn't have the same freedom to spend whatever necessary to get things right.
Former Fox Kids executive Sidney Iwanter revealed that the animated Batman series was far more fortunate when it came to the budget.
"Whereas X-Men had to abide by the Fox license deal for each episode, Batman could go well above that and really not worry too much. It had the deep pockets of Warners to cover any production cost over runs. This enabled the Batman series much more time in both animation production and post production."
"X-Men was basically as ragtag and hurried as any normal Saturday morning boys action adventure production. A single hiccup down the line could cost thousands and send the broadcast schedule over the cliff. X-Men did not have a cushion for too many mishaps. Maybe that attests to its rawness."