We’re not getting through the 12 Days of Christmas Episodes without a superhero cartoon. We’ve checked in with the X-Men before, but this is a different series. It’s the early 2000s reboot X-Men: Evolution. I hope you like floppy hair because everybody but Professor X is sporting some serious emo ‘dos.
X-Men: Evolution – “On Angel’s Wings”
Original airdate: December 15, 2001
I’m not familiar with X-Men: Evolution. From context, I can tell they went back to the “school for mutants” concept, which is what Grant Morrison was doing in the comics at the time. Wolverine and Beast appear to be teachers and there’s an assortment of familiar students, most of whom get nothing to do in this episode. I was really looking forward to Wolverine doing stuff but most of the cast just leaves for Christmas vacation.
I’ll get into specifics after the recap, but this is not a good show. It’s so heavy and joyless. Even the score is moody and pretentious. But then it’s also dumb. I fell asleep halfway through and had to watch it twice. So far I’ve covered four DC animated Christmas episodes and they were all good to great. This is, I think my fourth or fifth Marvel cartoon and none of them have been good. Spider-Man, Hulk, and an earlier incarnation of the X-Men all let us down and this one is not going to break the streak. One day I’ll find a good Marvel Christmas episode. I’m determined to do it before I do another DC entry because there’s a Justice League Action episode that focuses on Plastic Man and I’m obviously on board for that.
It is not clear to me whether this show has introduced Warren Worthington before, but he’s sulking around his penthouse in a trenchcoat and ignoring calls from his mom. There’s a news report about somebody trapped in a burning building so he removes his coat to reveal a pair of big feathered wings on his back and flies out to help. I can’t tell if he’s supposed to have done this before. Also, I’m just going to call him Angel because that’s his name in the comics.
He saves a lady and flies off and she describes him as an angel. This episode keeps trying to bump up against religious symbolism but never commits.
Cut to the X-Men Christmas party. Nightcrawler chases Kitty around with mistletoe for way too long and when she gets away he almost kisses another boy by accident! Gross! There’s an indication that Rogue and Jean Grey are both vying for Cyclops’ affections but since Jean is going to leave this episode in the next scene it doesn’t amount to anything.
Angel sulks in a park and then uses his wings to stop a mugging. A man in a coat watches from afar and you just know he’s going to be Magneto. I’m desperate for him to not be Magneto just to do something interesting, but there’s no way he’s not Magneto. Professor X reads about this Angel in the paper and figures there’s another mutant out there. He sends Cyclops and Rogue to find and recruit him. Should be easy to find a person in New York.
The guy who, after four full minutes of non-suspense, turns out to be Magneto, causes an accident on a bridge. Angel is there, now in a full superhero costume, and saves some people. Magneto uses his powers to make Angel kick a girl off the bridge so he dives into the pink water below to save her. At first it seems like he can’t fly when his wings are wet, but then he can. People are mad that he kicked the girl into the water and chase him off.
Cyclops and Rogue hear people talking about Angel and that encourages them to go to the hospital. Which seems crazy, but Angel is checking in on the girl. He hides his wings under a labcoat and his mask also disappears when he puts on said coat. Cyclops and Rogue spot him and he flies away. Then everybody goes to church because this plot is entirely driven by people overhearing things. Magneto confronts Angel and tries to recruit him. It’s very funny because Magneto talks about how great a gift it is to fly and he himself is flying when he says it. Angel refuses so Magneto attacks him with a lamp and ties him up with a chain.
But then Cyclops and Rogue show up to help! They do everything they can to make sure this isn’t at all exciting. Magneto uses his magnet powers to attack them with a wooden podium and chunks of masonry because the animators don’t care. Angel saves Rogue, who can also fly. Later, he tells our “heroes” that he’s not interested in joining the X-Men. The little girl who fell off the bridge recovers and there’s a montage of the other X-Men enjoying family time. Who knew Nightcrawler, famously a circus freak, had loving parents waiting to see him? Wolverine plays pool in an empty bar. The episode mercifully ends.
This was not good. There’s nothing fun about it. And it’s so lazy – the animation is incredibly glitchy. Angel’s mask appears and disappears when he removes and puts on a coat. The mugging victim is wearing a heavy coat outside and wearing the same coat when we later see him sitting at his office desk. Magneto manipulates mostly non-metal objects and some hurled masonry explodes when it hits a window. The hospital has a sign out front that says “Happy Holidays and New Year” which at least made me laugh. It’s bad.
There’s also the X-Men specific weirdness. They’re introducing Angel in the middle of Season Two when he was actually a founding member of the team. Those original members have pretty basic powers and then it was cool that one of them had wings and could fly. But when you introduce him later, there are so many other people who can also fly and they can also do other things like control weather. The big fight scene involves four people and Cyclops is the only one who can’t fly. There’s no way Magneto is going to try and recruit somebody whose only power is a more cumbersome version of everybody else’s secondary power.
Our streak of disappointing Marvel episodes remains unbroken!
Best Line: “Wings and everything! Wings, I’m telling you!” – Unnamed mugging victim – that’s the best I could do.
Christmas Decorations – The Xavier Institute is decorated nicely. There’s a diner that has a full Christmas tree in the corner, which can’t be safe. Wolverine hangs out at a bar with a neon tree.
Christmas Party – Professor X throws a party at the school.
Gift Exchange – Jean Grey gives out a bunch of lockets, much like Fonzie before her. Rogue gives Cyclops a sweater that is all just shades of gray and it looks like they meant to go back and color it.
Mistletoe – Yep. It’s there.
Hanukkah Shout-Out – We get a shot of Kitty Pryde lighting a menorah with her parents and it’s nice they remembered that.
A Christmas Miracle – The little girl who fell off a bridge is OK! Also people think they saw an angel!
Holiday Cheer-O-Meter – This is one that would be mostly unchanged if it wasn’t set at Christmas. It’s dour and boring and so impressed with itself and I’m giving it a zero out of spite. Do better, X-Men!