Warning! This post contains SPOILERS for X-Men ’97 episodes 1 & 2



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Summary

  • X-Men ’97 brings back beloved characters and introduces new ones like X-Cutioner, continuing the original series’ storyline.
  • X-Cutioner, a mysterious mutant-hunter, removes Storm’s powers, sparking a conflict with Magneto that leads to the latter sparing his life.
  • The show changes X-Cutioner’s background, but there is potential for his character development and redemption as an antihero in future episodes.


The Marvel Animation original X-Men ’97 premiered with two eventful episodes, continuing the premise of X-Men: The Animated Series, but with some new characters like X-Cutioner. The ominous villain was among the many Easter eggs of X-Men ’97’s first two episodes. Building upon Charles Xavier’s death, the revival series revolves around the mutant super team’s adventures, but in a changed world. As anti-mutant hate rises to an extremist level with the resurgence of the militant group Friends of Humanity, the previous series’ overarching antagonist Magneto returns to surprisingly aid the X-Men and contribute to Xavier’s vision of peaceful mutant-human coexistence.


Matters get more complicated when Cyclops and Jean Grey plan to leave the team to raise their newborn child. But perhaps the most shocking moment from X-Men ‘97 episode 2 arises from X-Cutioner’s entry as his attacks de-power Storm. With the Omega-level mutant losing her powers to X-Cutioner’s weaponry, the remainder of the episode finds an angered Magneto planning on killing the mutant-hunting vigilante. However, Magneto spares him later to prove that he has changed his own radical philosophy of punishing humans. While the show doesn’t reveal much about the man behind the mask, X-Cutioner shares a tragic backstory.

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X-Cutioner’s Marvel Comics History Explained

The Ex-FBI Agent Turned Against Mutants After Tragically Losing His Partner


Introduced in The Uncanny X-Men Annual #17 (1993), the X-Cutioner remained a mysterious vigilante who made it his life’s mission to track down mutants who have killed humans. His modus operandi includes assimilating anti-mutant technology and artillery and waging a one-man war against mutants. After faking his death, he returned in Uncanny X-Men #301 (1993) to target White Queen (Emma Frost) because of her pre-X-Men tenure with the villainous Hellfire Club. He broke into the X-Mansion and attempted to kill White Queen, only to be stopped by the efforts of Rogue, Cyclops and his son Nathan Summers aka Cable.

X-Cutioner was created by writer Scott Lobdell and illustrator Jason Pearson. Apart from their Marvel and DC work, Lobdell has also written the 2017 slasher film
Happy Death Day,
while Pearson is known for his hyperviolent Dark Horse Comics series
Body Bags
.


It was two years later that X-Cutioner’s identity was revealed in X-Man #11 (1995). It turned out that X-Cutioner is the alter ego of former FBI Agent Carl Denti, who was partnered up with Fred Duncan, an agent sympathetic to Charles Xavier’s cause for mutant-human coexistence. Duncan’s friendship with Xavier and connections with the mutant supporter network Xavier Underground gave him access to mutant criminal records and weapons of X-Men villains. But when an unnamed mutant mysteriously killed Duncan, Denti took it upon himself to avenge his partner and used the stockpiled weapons to target mutants who have killed others.

X-Cutioner’s Powers Explained

He Has No Superpowers But Enough Mutant-Hunting Machinery

X-Cutioner covering his face with a raised arm in a smoke-filled building in X-Men '97

Carl Denti is adept at hand-to-hand combat and basic firearms operations, thanks to his tenure at the FBI. As X-Cutioner, he doesn’t possess mutant powers but relies on advanced technology and weaponry during combat. X-Cutioner wears a suit of high-tech armor that traces its origins to the extraterrestrial Shi’ar race. The extremely durable armor comes from some of the most dangerous Shi’ar warriors in Marvel history like regular X-Men foe Eric the Red (also a recurring villain in the original X-Men: The Animated Series). His armor is also occasionally shown to possess a mutant DNA-identifying technology, most likely borrowed from Sentinel technology.


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The Sentinel mutant-detection tech is utilized again in X-Men ’97, with Denti and other members of Friends of Humanity revealed to be using discarded Sentinel robot parts like hand blasters for their bidding. In the comics, Denti also devises gadgets out of the Inhibiting Collars that prevent mutants from using their powers. The Disney+ series also puts a spin on such mutant-depowering artillery by arming him with a Neutralizer rifle that can permanently alter mutants’ DNA structures. While he aimed to do so with Magneto in X-Men ‘97, he shot his rifle at Storm instead, taking away her weather-manipulating abilities.


X-Cutioner’s Comics Changes Explained

His Background And Personality Is Altered In X-Men ‘97

A mutant crouching and looking up at the X-Cutioner who is holding a spear and looking down in an X-Men comic

Instead of introducing Carl Denti as a disgruntled FBI operative avenging his partner, X-Cutioner’s backstory is slightly tweaked in X-Men ‘97. In the first episode, Denti is depicted as a member of the radical militant group Friends of Humanity. Sharing the same scorn for mutants as his fellow members, Denti adopts the X-Cutioner identity in the second episode. But this TV version of X-Cutioner is more bigoted, as is evident from his monologue in the UN building. In X-Men ‘97, Denti makes it clear that he hates mutant-kind, dismissing their discrimination and equating their struggles with those of everyday humans.

Know what I hate about your kind? You act like you got it so bad. Normal people have it hard, too. Harder! We just have the dignity not to whine about it. You see? It’s the whining. I hate your whining just as much as I hate you.


In comparison, Carl Denti doesn’t see himself as a mutant-hating bigot in the comics. Instead, his battle is chiefly against mutants who have killed before, even though he gets driven to bloodlust by his self-styled status as the ultimate executioner of mutants. The fact that he doesn’t target any human villains shows his underlying racism, but this is something that he ignores in the comics to justify the fact that he’s doing the right thing. His FBI background might be teased in future X-Men ‘97 episodes, but for now, he is firmly established in the TV canon as a Friends of Humanity soldier.

Can X-Cutioner Appear In Future X-Men ’97 Episodes?

Magneto’s Forgiveness Can Hopefully Help Him Aid The X-Men


While Friends of Humanity was introduced in the original series, X-Cutioner is one of the new characters introduced in X-Men ‘97. He could have had a limited role, but considering that X-Men ‘97 has a more overarching narrative compared to X-Men: The Animated Series, it wouldn’t be surprising to find X-Cutioner returning with the extremist group he belongs to. The X-Men ‘97 action figure lineup also includes X-Cutioner, potentially hinting at a larger role throughout the series. Considering that Magneto spared his life and asked him to change his ways, X-Cutioner can also go through more character evolution as an antihero.

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Carl Denti turning into an antihero could be a possibility, considering he occasionally aided heroes like the Punisher and Gambit in the comics. After a few run-ins with the X-Men made him question his own ethics, he partnered up with the Punisher to protect pro-mutant public defender Reverend William Connover from assassination attempts by the extremist collective Mutant Liberation Front in The Punisher #12 (1995). Similarly, Gambit #17 (1999) had him teaming up with Gambit to take down an X-Cutioner duplicate. Keeping such examples in mind, there is hope for X-Cutioner’s redemption in X-Men ’97 and other Marvel adventures.

X-Men 97 Disney Plus TV Series Poster

X-Men ’97 is the direct continuation of the popular 1990s animated series X-Men: The Animated Series. Taking up where the third season left off, Marvel’s revival brings back famous mutants such as Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Gambit, Cyclops, Beast, Magneto, and Nightcrawler, who fight villains like Mr. Sinister, the Sentinels, and the Hellfire Club.

Cast
Jennifer Hale , Chris Potter , Alison Sealy-Smith , Lenore Zann , Cal Dodd , Catherine Disher , Adrian Hough , Ray Chase , Chris Britton , George Buza

Release Date
March 20, 2024

Directors
Jake Castorena

Seasons
1

Key Release Dates

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