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Exclusive: Marvel’s Brad Winderbaum on ‘X-Men ’97’ Crossover with Live-Action, a Feature Film and New X-Teams

Exclusive: Marvel’s Brad Winderbaum on ‘X-Men ’97’ Crossover with Live-Action, a Feature Film and New X-Teams

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X-Men ‘97 is Disney+’s most-watched animated series premiere with four million views in its first five days. The series favored well with both fans and critics alike, and now that the X-Men ‘97 has ended, many are hungry for season 2 to begin.  

Especially with the season finale mid-credit scene ending!

In an exclusive interview with Brad Winderbaum, Executive Producer and Marvel Studios Head of TV, Streaming, and Animation he spoke with Black Girl Nerds about the success of X-Men ‘97 as well as what plans are in store for the future. 

The last time we spoke you gave us a nice exclusive confirming that there will be other X-teams. And I see that we’ve laid the groundwork for these teams to coalesce. It looks like there could be some room for X-Force with the partnership of Forge and Bishop as mutant cops that are going to be doing some investigating.  We also have Cable established. Will there be a formation of these X-teams in season two?

You know, I don’t want to spoil anything for you. But if you’re a fan of the X-Men franchise, you know in general, all the teams that collide with the X-Men and all the off-shoots in the comics like X-Force, X-Factor and then there’s so many to list… 

90s era Excalibur team (Chris Claremont/Alan Davis)

Excalibur maybe? 

Who knows?  But you will be happy. It will make you happy.

Thank you for that. This has been a wildly successful season with fans. Will season 2 order more episodes? We’ve seen that with X Men: The Animated Series. And will we also expect to see longer episodes?

Yeah, it’s a different world than the Saturday morning world now. The tech’s different, the pipeline’s different, the streaming is different. But we are well on our way down the creative road of season three, that will have less lag time between the seasons in season one and two. And in terms of the episode runtime, we set out to make a show that was like, under 25 minutes per episode. The story kind of led the way and we were able to pull together resources to make episodes over 30, to make some that are over 40. So we’ll see where we land.

Kevin Feige is a named producer on this series, and I’m sure he has witnessed how the show has resonated with fans and critics alike. Have there been conversations about bringing the animation team into the live action universe?

Marvel’s always been a very collaborative place. I never worked anywhere else. It’s just always been what I’ve known. We’re a tight knit group. We always collaborate on each other’s projects. And every project we make influences every other one. In that sense, I don’t think you can make a live action X-Men without taking into account X Men ‘97. Just like I don’t think you can make an animated X-Men without taking into account the comics. In that Marvel way, I think a lot of collaborations have been developed.

Would you ever be interested in creating an animated feature film like a one-shot of X-Men ‘97?

Animated features feel a bit untapped for us as a studio. There’s a lot of fun directions to go there and we talk about it behind the scenes all the time. Anything’s possible. Time will tell there’s worse ideas than making an X-Men ‘97 feature, that’s for sure. So, we’ll see.

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You handle streaming for Marvel Studios and you also oversee some of the new shows that are coming to Disney plus, will we see some crossover with  X-Men ‘97 in some of these new shows that are dropping in the future, which we just heard during the Disney upfronts that just took place?

One of the things that makes it so exciting and allows us to go down these amazing roads, both from a storytelling perspective and a mythology perspective, is that it is in the 90s. That we’re emulating this particular time and place so that’s gonna stay the focus. That being said, we live in a multiverse so who knows what’s around the corner.

Episode 2 “Mutant Liberation Begins”

Is there an episode that is a favorite of yours that still resonates with you? And why is that the episode that you enjoy the most?

Episode Five is really a triumph. And Episode Five only hits that hard because of the episodes that come before it. And that it’s been built up and that pot is simmering for four episodes and four weeks. That’s a month of fandom and your imagination is running wild in between episodes brings you to the doorstep of Episode Five. But I really love episode 2, the trial of Magneto. That episode has a lot of great things to say. Particularly a character like Magneto who’s challenged by the world he sees around him and wants to react, but holds himself back ultimately. There’s a lot of lessons in that. At the heart of X-Men is this idea of empathy and putting yourself in the shoes of your enemy. And I think that resonates throughout the first season, but particularly in that episode.

Is season 2 done?

Season two is in the animatic phase which is actually there’s a lot of storytelling that goes into that. It still happens in that phase. It’s where you do a lot of the fine tuning, because it’s transitioning from concept to fully realized animation. There is a significant amount of work still being done in the second season. But the roadmap is pretty clear and it’s very exciting. I feel about season two the way I did about season one. I hope the fans embrace it the way we kind of feel about it on the inside.

Is it safe to say that we’ll get a release date soon for that?

It might take a second. One of the factors of animation is that the studio likes to see how successful the first season is before they greenlight the second and it takes so long. So that’s why you often see delays between the first and second seasons of animated shows, especially ones that are as intricate as X-Men. We did get the green light before we aired thankfully, which gives us a little bit of advantage but there will be more lag time than what I think the fans want or what I want. But you know, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

This interview was edited and condensed for clarity. An audio version of this interview will be available on an upcoming episode of the BGN Podcast.

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