X-Men '97 Director Addresses Black Panther Questions

X-Men ’97‘s director addressed the decision to have T’Chaka’s Black Panther cameo in the Season 1 finale. While a lot of fans on social media were busy celebrating Spider-Man and Daredevil making it to the party, there were some confused by T’Challa’s absence. Of course, the topic of the Black Panther and his mantle has been a topic of discussion online since Chadwick Boseman‘s passing. In fact, a lot of the speculation about the decisio to roll with T’Chaka in the finale basically kicked up some of the same discussions that surrounded Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. But, director Jake Castorena was kind enough to address the questions.

ComicBook’s Phase Zero podcast interviewed the X-Men ’97 director after the blockbuster conclusion. It seems like there were some conversation about what cameos made their way through. (Deadpool was also curiously absent for the finale too!) But, Castorena wasn’t in the room for that discussion. What he and the creative team did think made sense was using T’Chaka as a visual signifier that we were in the past. Despite some eagle-eyed fans pointing out T’Challa being Black Panther in the old Fantastic Four cartoon. Don’t be so sure this is the exact same timeline or anything. These are all malleable stories and that can be the beauty of the multiverse. Here’s his response to the Black Panther question:

“Sure. I will elaborate on as much of it as I can. Some of the Black Panther of it all are definitely closed doors conversations that I wasn’t privy to. That was definitely in Beau [DeMayo] and the executives’ realm,” the director explained. “But for us, there’s always multiple timelines right there. There’s always a one off. ‘This is exactly how I like it, except for that one thing.’ OK, cool. But, it’s still the thing. So, who’s to say what timeline is the right timeline, the proper timeline? I mean, y’all aren’t ready for how we’re gonna **** you up in season two. At the end, we tease it at the end of 10. We’re gonna have to elaborate on that…”

“So, at least for myself, this is set in the nineties. If T’Challa is the natural successor and is more of our era now, he would have still been a kid at that time. And while it is sort of retcon-y, based on what nineties series you watch, whether it was Fantastic Four… I believe it was just Fantastic Four that even had T’Challa,” Castorena recalled. “And that was before T’Chaka was like assassinated, or if there was a back in time thing, but I remember they did T’Challa. But, that’s the best thing about our sandbox and multiple universes. For us, it just felt right.”

“You know what, I don’t know what the mandates and I can’t speak to whatever the closed door conversations were. But, as a storyteller, I’m like, ‘Oh, this is, this is not the Aughts, this is the mid to late 90s.’ I like the idea that we’re seeing the legacy characters, you know?,” Castorena added. “Just for myself as a creative, it’s reminding the audiences, ‘Oh, this is an earlier time.’ It’s just one of those other things that we could just help remind the audiences ‘We’re not now, we are then.’.. And, so it’s the constant. Just to kind of check that timeline math. If that makes sense visually? Remind the audience that we are in the nineties, right? We are not current.”

As we got into the topic of cameos in our conversation, Castorena had to give credit to X-Men: The Animated Series director Larry Houston for establishing this universe to begin with. As is apparent now, the crew that worked on the Fox Kids favorite in the United States couldn’t have dreamed of the success they would enjoy as a result of this animated series. It’s not that much of a stretch to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it wouldn’t exist if it were not for X-Men: The Animated Series taking off the way it did!

Castroena began, “Well, I mean, like one look we had, we had good scripts to work off of. Cameos and the universe expansion. That again, that’s ingrained in the DNA of the original show. Except when Larry Houston did it, all of those cameos were illegal. So, thanks for all the contingencies we have in place. We can’t do that these days. I love telling that story and I love reminding Larry. Like, ‘Thank you, Larry.’ He just laughs and it’s funny.”

What do you think of the whole T’Challa question? Check out the wild moments down below!


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