‘WE LOST SO BAD’: ‘X-Men ’97’ goes in bold new direction after cloak-and-dagger firing, and Marvel fans are up in arms

‘WE LOST SO BAD’: ‘X-Men ’97’ goes in bold new direction after cloak-and-dagger firing, and Marvel fans are up in arms

Since the moment X-Men ’97 sang the last of its season 1 songs to us on Disney Plus, it’s become increasingly evident that, across the Marvel Studios market past and present, there is nary a competitor to be found for Beau DeMayo’s mutant masterclass.

This is a show that, given its shared canon with the original animated series, could have settled for being cheap nostalgia shenanigans. Instead, X-Men ’97 played host to some of the absolute best storytelling that Marvel Studios has ever put out; pronounced character drama and ruthlessly transparent themes of oppression and tolerance flooded every beat, all while bringing its comic book combat to new heights with some genuinely nuanced fight choreography/teamwork. Indeed, DeMayo cooked, served, ate, and left nary a crumb here.

But now, we’re on course to see if Matthew Chauncey — who Deadline revealed as X-Men ’97‘s new head writer for season 3 — will be able to do the same. Suffice it to say that the denizens of X are not particularly hopeful.


— harv (@harvv) July 10, 2024

WE LOST pic.twitter.com/lLquJW2vn9

— JAY (@Jayhatesports1) July 10, 2024

So after season 2 this show is dead to me.

— Wildface (@Mudkatt) July 10, 2024

X, of course, is designed specifically for reactionary screaming, and while disappointment about this decision is far from unjustified, this whole ordeal merits a closer look.

Matthew Chauncey has a respectable history at Marvel Studios

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

First, Chauncey’s resume; a quick peek at his IMDb page shows involvement in three previous Marvel projects: What If…?, Ms. Marvel, and Thor: Love and Thunder. The scribe is directly responsible for a fair spread of What If…?‘s better episodes (“What If… Nebula Joined the Nova Corps,” “What If… Zombies,” and “What If… Strange Supreme Intervened?”), and while his Love and Thunder credit may be unnerving (no one wants to admit to being the guy who smiled and nodded when Taika Waititi thought screaming goats were funny the second, third, and fourth time), he served as a script doctor on that screenplay, so his involvement with that faceplant was probably quite minimal. He also worked on the teleplay for three episodes of Ms. Marvel and was a staff writer on Guillermo del Toro’s 3Below: Tales of Arcadia, both of which were critically acclaimed.

All things considered, then, Chauncey’s a pretty safe bet for the job; at the very least, he’s not a blatantly unsafe one. Unfortunately, that’s not really the issue; the issue is that Chauncey — and literally everyone else— is a very sharp, very distinct downgrade from DeMayo.

Why Beau DeMayo is irreplaceable

#XMen97 Spoilers ahead: pic.twitter.com/9mZ4uPTfpk

— Beau DeMayo (@BeauDemayo) April 10, 2024

There’s no two ways about it; the first season of X-Men ’97 was next-level, and DeMayo’s vested interest in telling an X-Men story rather than a story with the X-Men (and yes, there’s a massive difference), was apparent not only in the show itself, but in DeMayo’s own commentary on it. The best example of this is his post on X following the premiere of “Remember It” (which is almost universally agreed upon as the best episode of the season).

Simply put, Marvel is not going to find the sort of lived-in passion for these characters and these stories anywhere else; the outrage around Chauncey’s hiring is not rooted in Chauncey himself, but in the non-DeMayoness of the hire.

It’s only made worse by the fact that Marvel Studios has been uncharacteristically coy about the nuances of DeMayo’s exit. The season 1 showrunner was let go just days before the show’s premiere, and while words like “difficult to work with” have tangoed with rumors about his OnlyFans account being the reason for his firing, the actual, concrete reasons behind DeMayo’s exit have yet to be brought to any real light. Could DeMayo have actually been an abusive personality behind the scenes? Yes, it’s entirely possible.

But, is it unusual that a reason for his exit wasn’t given considering how open Marvel has been about past firings (i.e. James Gunn)? Yes, absolutely.

And, is it a good look for Marvel to not have made a palpable statement when DeMayo, a queer Black man, was fired as the showrunner of a television series that was unafraid of being political, and whose high storytelling standards suggest an expected work ethic/approach that could be dubbed “difficult,” or at least the antithesis of data-driven creation? No, it’s not a good look at all.

Meanwhile, the scripts for season 2 (which DeMayo also spearheaded) have reportedly been revised ahead of Chauncey’s hiring, which doesn’t bode well for whatever we have left of DeMayo’s vision for X-Men ’97. Indeed, how can fans have anything but a bad taste in their mouth when looking at all of these patterns?

I’ll be the first person to tip my hat to Marvel if it’s revealed that DeMayo is actually a horrible person whose toxicity makes a workplace uninhabitable. But it’s done no such thing; the studio has given vague answer after vague answer regarding his exit, and all things considered, one really can’t help but wonder if DeMayo’s firing was in good faith.

In the meantime, we can only hope that Chauncey does a good job with season 3, but don’t be surprised if X-Men ’97‘s next couple of rounds are a little bit tamer, a little more formulaic, and a little less… well, a little less X-Men ’97.

The first season of X-Men ’97 is available to stream in full on Disney Plus. Season 2 is in production, and season 3 is in development.

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