‘X-Men ’97’ Ending Explained & Finale Recap: Is The Age Of Apocalypse Upon The X-Men?

The ideals inculcated during upbringing shape the course of one’s future, and that stands true for mutants as well. Despite being at the receiving end of vitriolic hate, prejudice, and violence from humans in the worst ways imaginable, the X-Men, the mutant team of heroes mentored by Professor X, chooses to show compassion and kindness even to their worst enemies as the titular team battles for survival against an extinction-level crisis. Especially judging from the harrowing spectacle and bold narrative decisions showcased in the past few episodes, the first season finale of X-Men ’97 comes off as a rather unprecedented and risk-free conclusion to an epic arc, which might result in a divisive reception among fans. 

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Previously, Magneto’s act of declaring a war on humankind by causing a global blackout led Charles and his team to try to reason with him while stopping Bastion once and for all. Taking a landmass and turning it into a habitable asteroid M for mutants, Magneto arrived at X-mansion to lambast Charles for the ineffectiveness of his tolerant approach regarding mutant-human coexistence. As he offered the team a chance to accept his ideology, Rogue and Sunspot defected from the X-Men. After dividing the X-Men into two teams, Scott decided to handle both situations. However, Sinister and Bastion proved too much for the gold team to handle, as Sinister took control over Cable and pitted him against Jean. On the other hand, as the battle between the blue team and Magneto’s allies heats up, Wolverine stabs Magneto, and in response, Erik rips out the adamantium from Logan’s body, shocking every mutant present on asteroid M. Despite having so much at stake, the eventful finale of the first season wraps up the threat of Bastion and Prime Sentinels in a convenient way and teases one of the classic X-Men storylines for the upcoming season.

Spoilers Ahead

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Was Charles Able to Convince Erik to Restore Earth’s Power?

X-Men ’97‘s finale opens in a bar during at an unspecified point in past, as we see two friends, Charles and Erik, sharing drinks over a conversation that soon drifts towards the discussion of mutants. Charles reveals his true identity as a mutant telepath to Erik, who lets him know about his metal manipulation skills in exchange. As a holocaust survivor, Erik, who had the misfortune of witnessing the lowest depths humanity can stoop to, is of the opinion that humanity will not tolerate the difference between mutants and humans, while Charles argues that mutants can make the world a better place through their gifts. Erik respectfully shares his doubts, as his lifelong experience has taught him not to put trust in humanity. 

In the very next scene, it is revealed that this fond memory was being played inside the mind of Erik, as in a last-ditch attempt to convince his dear old friend to undo the global blackout he had caused, Charles has taken the desperate measure of entering his mind and using Erik’s memories to appeal to his senses. Realizing the truth, Erik berates Charles and refuses to cooperate, prompting Charles to warn Erik that he will forcibly take over his mind and restore Earth’s power if he continues to refuse. However, as Erik mentions, an action like this entails the risk of getting both their psyches entangled. Finding no other way to convince Erik, Charles does exactly what he had warned Erik— taking over Magneto’s mind, he restores power all over the world by fixing the magnetic field.

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In a brief montage of cameos, Silver Samurai, Iron Man, Captain America, and Daredevil are shown to have felt the impact of the action. However, as Erik had mentioned, Charles’ psyche remains captive in Erik’s mind, while the effect of the psych invasion leaves Erik’s mind in a temporary dazed state. 


What Happened to the Gold Team?

Seeing bleeding heart Xavier still trying his age-old approach of reason and trust to secure a future for mutants, Bastion mocks the captive gold team of X-Men, stating mutant-kind are bound to suffer the same tragic fate over and over. He also mentions that the Professor didn’t show the same kindness to him when he was young and in a disturbed state due to tech afflictions, and despite his mother trying to convince Xavier to accept him into his mutant school, the Professor refused. This is obviously a lie told by Bastion’s mother to his son, and a single lie left such a far-reaching impact in the future as the act of abandonment fueled the Sentinel-induced deep-seated mutant hatred in Bastion’s heart. Realizing this, Ororo tries to appeal to Bastion’s humanity, to no avail. Bastion commences the final stage of his Operation Zero Tolerance as he sends his Prime Sentinel to various corners of the world. His target has shifted from mere mutants to defenders of the earth, as he sees his directive to save humankind as only being acquired by protecting humanity from itself—similar to Ultron’s motive in the MCU flick “Age of Ultron.” His Prime Sentinel troops take flight and launch their attack on various parts of the world, from devastated Genoa to Wakanda. 

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Eventually, Bastion directs his attention towards a Sinister-controlled Cable, and as he tortures him, viewers learn that he had tried two hundred times to save his mother, Madelyn Pryor, and avert this Prime Sentinel crisis concocted by Bastion—to no avail. As Bastion prepares to take Cable’s life, all of a sudden, Jean is revealed to have tapped into the limitless powers of her Phoenix avatar. Now at her strongest potential, Jean makes quick work of Bastion by forcing the pneumonic scrambler created by Hank and Forge on him, which neutralizes the Prime Sentinels in an instant. In her Phoenix form, Jean reverses Sinister’s genetic enhancements, leaving him in his original feeble, decrepit form.


Was Xavier able to save Magneto’s psyche?

Meanwhile, inside Magneto’s subconscious, past trauma, betrayal, tragedies, and suppressed negative emotions create destructive tidal waves, which threaten to destroy both his and Charles’ psyches at once. To make matters worse, a disillusioned Erik forgets his true self, and despite Charles trying his best to bring his friend back, there seems to be no way to bring things back to normalcy. Waves of past hurt almost drown both the friends, and Charles continues to seek a way to get out of this psychic crisis. 

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On the other hand, Bastion evolves into an edgy 90s getup of enhanced tech armored form, and after releasing some of his frustration by beating Cable to a pulp, he flies off to asteroid M to apprehend the blue team. A vicious battle breaks out between Bastion and the Scott-led blue team, and seeing the fiery action unfold in space, humans start their conspiracy against mutants by provoking the President to launch the Magneto protocol to prevent the horrid fate of total annihilation. Some wise minds like Steve Rogers and King T’Chaka try to warn the President against taking such a horrid decision, but political pressure and prejudice win at the end, and the President decides to initiate the protocol to destroy all the mutants present on asteroid M. 

Despite getting severely injured in the battle, Bastion persists, and as the gold team too joins the battle, a cornered Bastion fiercely holds his position against great odds, resulting in even members of the X-Men getting shocked to witness his temperament. Realizing his mother’s misguidance has caused Bastion, who could have been the first and strongest of the X-Men, to feel dejected and hateful, Scott and Ororo decide to choose the higher road and offer him a chance to make amends by joining them. Professor Bastion’s teachings have truly been realized by his students, as despite everything Bastion has done, the X-Men choose to open their hearts to him. However, Bastion mentions that despite the kindness shown by mutants, humanity will always abhor them, and his statement is proven true as missiles launched as part of the Magneto protocol hit asteroid M, destabilizing it from its orbit and causing it to hurtle towards the earth. 

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As Jean forms a protective shield to guard the X-Men, the team invites Bastion to join, who scoffs at the proposal and meets his end in a fiery core explosion. The decision of the President to launch the Magneto Protocol to annihilate the X-Men has backfired, as the impact of asteroid M crashing on Earth could decimate the human population entirely, poetic justice indeed. However, ultimately, it’s the X-Men who try to stop the asteroid M from making landfall, but even their combined might seems to be falling short to prevent the doomsday. With a final earnest appeal to Erik by mentioning their shared dream of mutant-human coexistence, Charles manages to restore Erik’s psyche to his former self, and an empowered Magneto stops the asteroid M in mid-air, saving humanity from total annihilation.


Is the Age of Apocalypse upon the X-Men?

However, within a few moments, the entire asteroid, along with all the mutants, inexplicably vanishes into thin air. Members like Jubilee, Forge, and Sunspot watch in horror from the earth and wonder about the fate of their fellow mutant brethren. Six months later, an aggrieved Forge laments the loss of the missing X-Men when Bishop pays him a visit. According to Bishop, the X-Men have survived, as they have been sent to different time periods by some unknown entity. 

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We see Rogue, the Professor, Magneto, Beast, and the majority of the X-Men on asteroid M have been transported to 3000 BC Egypt, and on the other hand, Scott and Jean have been sent to the far future of 3960 AD in an undisclosed location. In the past, the X-Men rescue a warrior from advancing enemies, who introduced himself as En-Sabah-Nur, while in the distant future, Scott and Jean are introduced to a tribe leader named Mother Askani. Seeing a young Nathan Summers as a part of the Askani tribe, Scott and Jean get immensely surprised, and the episode ends with the Professor and the rest of the X-Men gazing upon a kingdom built upon the desert.

In X-Men ’97‘s mid-credits scene, from the destruction of Genosha, the mutant god Apocalypse rises, lamenting over the immense loss his children—the mutant kind—suffered at the hands of humanity. Needless to say, this confirms Apocalypse as the antagonist for the upcoming second season of X-Men ’97, and the Genosha massacre will fuel his hatred for humankind. The origin of the first mutant will be explored through the rise of En-Sabah-Nur (the original identity of the Apocalypse), and the ways to stop him will be focused on in the future timeline involving Scott, Jean, and Nathan. Mother Askani, who is an alternate future version of Scott and Jean’s daughter, Rachel Summers, might hold the key to exploring more about the mythos involving the Apocalypse, which stretches through the past, present, and future. As the second season adapts the classic X-Men storyline Age of Apocalypse in its own interpretation, fans can expect to see a number of alternate future variants of their favorite mutants. 

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Siddhartha Das
Siddhartha Das
An avid fan and voracious reader of comic book literature, Siddhartha thinks the ideals accentuated in the superhero genre should be taken as lessons in real life also. A sucker for everything horror and different art styles, Siddhartha likes to spend his time reading subjects. He's always eager to learn more about world fauna, history, geography, crime fiction, sports, and cultures. He also wishes to abolish human egocentrism, which can make the world a better place.

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