‘I’ve Loved The Reaction We’ve Gotten’: X-Men ’97 Directors Open Up About Latest Episode’s Heartbreaking Death And The Tragedy On Genosha

 Gambit, Magneto and Rogue in X-Men '97's fifth episode.
Gambit, Magneto and Rogue in X-Men '97's fifth episode.

Warning: SPOILERS for the X-Men ’97 episode “Remember It” are ahead!

Are you still thinking about the death and devastation from X-Men ’97’s fifth episode? You’re not alone, as there’s been a lot of chatter surrounding the events of “Remember It,” as its final act saw a Wild Sentinel unleash havoc on Genosha and killing dozens, if not hundreds of mutants, including Magneto. On top of that, Gambit sacrificed his life to destroy the towering robot, leaving Rogue in tears. Voice actors Lenore Zann and A.J LoCascio both felt “devastated” by the tragic twist, and directors Emi Yonemura and Jake Castorena both opened up to CinemaBlend about that and the overall tragedy on Genosha from this Marvel TV show.

During my interview with Yonemura, who helmed both this episode and “Fire Made Flesh,” I brought up how killing Magneto would have been enough to get fans with a Disney+ subscription talking, but adding Gambit on top of that was an extra gut punch. The director responded:

It’s been kind of funny realizing how much people are talking more about Gambit, which we knew was going to be the case. I think Gambit is someone you never really suspect. You suspect, ‘Well, Magneto as leader, what does this mean?’ But I’ve loved the reaction we’ve gotten, and I think it’s important to honor both, but it’s been fun to see how much Gambit really hurts people.

“Remember It,” which former showrunner Beau DeMayo broke his silence about, was already a bad enough episode for Gambit before the Sentinel attack, as Rogue officially ended their unofficial romance after Magneto asked her to rule Genosha alongside him as queen. Because Rogue’s mutant ability prevents her from touching Gambit skin to skin, but Magneto’s own ability makes him immune to her dangerous touch, she felt that it was better to go with the Master go Magnetism rather than the Rain’ Cajun. What Gambit never learned is that during the Genosha inauguration gala, Rogue decided to turn down Magneto’s request and decided to go back to Gambit.

Sadly, Gambit died when he used his ability to generate and manipulate kinetic energy to blow up the Wild Sentinel after he was stabbed by the robot. This occurred mere minutes after the Sentinel blasted Magneto away while he was trying to protect Leech and other members of the Morlocks. When I talked with Jake Castorena, the show’s head director, I asked why it was important for both Magneto and Gambit to die in this X-Men ’97 episode, and here’s what he said:

That is a great question, and luckily that was sort of already figured out before I was more or less brought on board. That’s definitely been in the script from day one. The Magneto, yes, but fans would be surprised that the Gambit of it all was not always the first choice. Like storyboards and edits and revisions, stories go through changes. I dare not say what characters were potentially on the chopping block, but based on where the story needed to go and for what, the character changed for what the consequences would be. But as far why it necessarily needs to be those two, the thing I can say is that audiences will not have to wait long to understand why.

Again though, Magneto and Gambit weren’t the only casualties on Genosha, with Madelyne Pryor also being among the ones killed. What was supposed to be a safe haven for mutants has been massacred, and in fact, setting the nation up as a utopia, and then quickly taking that away, posed a unique challenge for Emi Yonemura, who told me the following when I asked what essential elements needed to be included for this episode to feel as powerful as it did:

The hardest thing to do is to set up a utopia, and then take it away in the same episode. How do we earn that this is a loss? Because audience members will only just be introduced, so you have to given people a connection to this place before you completely take it away and rip it out of people’s hearts. So for me as a director, that was the challenge, is ‘How do we earn this?’ I didn’t just want to earn it simply by, ‘I just want to people cry.’ Because that to me is never going to be successful. So one of my favorite things was collaborating with Cassey Kuo, my assistant director at the time, on this episode, and she helped me bring to life these kids who help introduce Genosha to us, and it was a great way to be able to sell the this is a utopia because there’s children happy here. Leech finally has friends and has found a place where Leech doesn’t have to hide in the sewers anymore. That to me made it an easier way to establish Genosha and how beautiful an island it is before we just completed demolished it.

Now anyone who reads/watches Marvel stories knows that there are plenty of instances where major events like this are erased from history by time travel, magic, etc. Plus, shortly before the Genosha attack, Cable, a.k.a. the adult Nathan Summers appeared before Madelyne, his mother, trying to give a warning about what was going to happen before being taken back to the future. While it remains to be seen if there will be any time travel machinations that affect what happened on Genosha, Jake Castorena assured me that the attack will have lasting ramifications in X-Men ’97, saying:

Absolutely. There is a level of respect, and this is understood from the top down on our show, on this IP, with these characters that we really freakin’ love, if you’re going to take swings like this, you cannot do things for shock value. And again, this is what I love from the scripts from day one, it wasn’t just for shock value; it was real narrative purpose. And to that, what I can say is this was not done just for for shock and awe value. There is a point to this, and I genuinely believe we pay it off for the audience in the season as it progress.

While there are a few plot threads we can expect to be revisited in the coming weeks, including what’s happening between Storm and Forge, as well as the troubles between Cyclops and Jean Grey, it’s hard to say how the aftermath of what happened on Genosha will be explored. However, both Lenore Zann did tease that Rogue is “just at the beginning of her real journey” following these events, and Castorena brought up to me how all the X-Men will have to contend with suddenly being faced with “mass genocide.”

There are five episodes left to go in X-Men ’97 Season 1, but with work on Season 2 well underway and Season 3 in development, fans don’t have to worry about one of the best Disney+ TV shows going anywhere. But if you’re looking for other things to watch, see what’s on now with our 2024 TV schedule.