The world of the X-Men, filled with mutants with extraordinary powers, has been the cornerstone of the Marvel Comics universe for decades. With its varied characters and deep plotlines, the franchise has remained a favorite since its launch by the creative mind of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in 1963. Over the years, Marvel ran into some financially tough times and had to find a means to save its struggling company from bankruptcy. Since the company could not afford to create its own superhero films, they sold the rights to the X-Men characters to 20th Century Fox in 1994.
Since then, the X-Men have gained a new audience through numerous animated series and the launch of the live-action X-Men film franchise in 2000. After the debut of the series, Marvel Studios decided to partner with Tribune Entertainment and Fireworks Entertainment to create its own world of mutant superhumans: Mutant X.
However, since its initial pitch and conception, the Mutant X TV series has been bombarded with numerous lawsuits and restrictions. Despite the drama, series creators developed their own unique world where humans had their DNA genetically modified after birth, resulting in 4 main categories of mutants.
Set in a format that tackled a new villain each week, Mutant X soon gained a unique fan base of its own outside of the Marvel world.
In the article, we will explore some of the untold secrets behind the Mutant X show - from the original concept of the show to the fans’ fight to bring back the series.
Here are 21 Crazy Facts About The Forgotten Marvel Show, Mutant X.
21 Mutant X Is Unrelated To The Comic Book Series
When initially announced that a new upcoming program called Mutant X was in productions, Marvel comic book fans were very excited. Initially, they assumed the project would be taking on one of many various projects from the Marvel Universe with the same name. Howard Mackie’s Mutant X series had recently been canceled, so the possibility of it finding life on tv was intriguing.
While it may seem like an adaptation, Mutant X tells its own story regarding mutants.
In addition, the title was similar to the “Weapon X” program found in Marvel that created such heroes as Wolverine and Deadpool. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
Mutant X, as it turned out, had nothing to do with any aspect of the Marvel Universe nor did it exist as any connection to any of the storylines within the comic book universe.20 The Show Creators Forget The Mutant X Comic Series Even Existed
Spawned from a collaboration between Tribune Entertainment and Marvel Comics, the live-action series Mutant X came to exist under another title: Genome X. The series itself came together after the successful release of the 20th Century Fox Studios movie X-Men. Appearing to be a direct connection to the wildly popular film, the project then went through a name change to Mutant X with the “X” remaining as a tribute to the original title.
Although the project came from a collaboration with Marvel Comics, the existence of Mackie’s series and other aspects of the Marvel Universe’s relationship with mutants was all but ignored. According to CBR, Executive Producer Rick Ungar said “they decided on the title without recalling that there had been a comic book with that same name.” Ouch.19 The Many Cut X-Men connections
Although the production team of Mutant X stated there were no connections to the X-Men or Marvel Universe, early conceptions of the show seem to prove otherwise. Although not a direct connection to the Marvel series, certain aspects of the X-Men universe definitely came to play in certain details of the show.
The initial pitch did draw some comparisons to X-Men characters, however that was changed before filming was completed.
In fact, the original pitch for the show appeared to be a carbon copy of X-Men storylines and characters. According to Den of Geek, “The original pitch featured a telepath called ‘Emma’, a villain with the surname Magnus, an antagonist named ‘Senator Kilmartin.’”
Sound familiar? However, since the initial pitch, the creators made major changes to ensure these “X-Men inspirations” did not make it to the final cut.18 20th Century Fox Sued Marvel Entertainment Over It
20th Century Fox had huge plans for the X-Men franchise once it acquired the film rights to the Marvel characters back in 1994. Fox had already found early success with the X-Men: The Animated Series, so the possibility of the same happening with a film was too good to be true. The live-action X-Men movie debuted in 2000 to the delight of Marvel fans everywhere.
Understandably, Fox wanted to protect this franchise from the onslaught of copycat projects. After the announcement of the Mutant X series, 20th Century Fox sued Marvel Entertainment in 2001. Certain aspects of the show that seemed to be direct copies of the film included characters in black costumes and “a wealthy mutant with the surname of Xero (similar to Professor Xavier).”17 Marvel Countersued To Save The Show
After 20th Century Fox initiated the lawsuit against the production of Mutant X, all activities on the series halted immediately. Although the initial lawsuit stated the series violated the X-Men film rights, Marvel disagreed and countersued. Determined to restart the production of the series, Marvel’s countersuit dictated that the series shared no similarities to the X-Men franchise and requested the series to begin production again.
Marvel made sure to change the elements of character that Fox thought were similar to the X-Men comics, to save their show.
According to the Huron Daily Tribune, “A federal judge in New York ruled that the series could proceed as long as no reference was made to the original 'X-Men' comic books, characters or Fox movie.” The show creators then proceed to scrub the show of any element that could be considered even remotely relatable to the X-Men world, resulting in various changes to the show as a whole.16 Superhero Names For the Characters Had To Be Dropped Too
As part of the lawsuit, Mutant X was forced to remove any and all show elements that resembled the X-Men franchise. Major changes made to the show included characters with similar attributes, costume choices and set designs. Also, the characters had to be renamed as part of the lawsuit as well.
According to IMDB, “The code names for the characters of the show before they were dropped because of legal action were 'Fuse' for the electricity throwing Brennan, 'Rapport' for the empath Emma, 'Shadowfox' for the animal-like Shalimar and 'Synergy' for the density changing Jesse.”
Even these small elements were too close to the X-Men franchise and had to be eliminated immediately. Even the “X” in the title bothered 20th Century Fox. However, show creators were able to retain the series’ name.15 They Weren't Born Mutants
The very idea of superheroes with mutant abilities has been a source of fascination for many comic book readers. As in the case of the X-Men, these characters gained their abilities thanks to a genetic mutation of their DNA. This change resulted in the creation of powers and abilities that non-mutants could never achieve. In fact, one of the main focuses of the X-Men was how these mutants came to terms with their powers and learned to use them.
Maybe they weren't born with it, maybe they were experimented on.
While this form of mutants became the norm in comic books, the series Mutant X brought a perspective on the subject. In their series, normal humans were the subject of mutation experiments after birth. Their source of power did not reply on their DNA but, instead, on scientific manipulations.14 Four Types of Mutants On The Show
Given that science had a hand in the creation of the mutants in the Mutant X series, scientists had better control over the type of mutants they could be created as well. As such, the mutants on Mutant X were limited to four different classifications: Feral, Elemental, Molecular, and Psionic. Each type of mutant had powers and abilities specific to their classification.
Feral mutants typically had various animal DNA mixed with their own genetic sequence. Elemental mutants had the ability to control and manipulate the environment or the elements themselves. Molecular mutants had connections to physical sciences with powers that often broke the very laws of nature. The last category, Psionic mutants, controlled the power of the mind and included telepathy and telekinesis.13 Jesse Kilmartin Originally Had Different Powers
Jesse Kilmartin was considered one of the most powerful New Mutants of his class. With the ability to alter his DNA and basic molecular structure, his abilities could deny the very laws of science. His powers included making himself intangible, impenetrable, and manipulating his density. However, early drafts of the series included additional powers that would have made the character even more of a standout.
It's true what they say, three heads are better than one.
In a 2002 interview, actor Forbes March revealed, “When I was first asked to audition Jesse was supposed to split into three different characters and have conversations between ‘himselves’… One personality was supposed to be effeminate, one very macho and the third very logical.”
Even his initial audition required him to demonstrate his ability to play three different characters effectively. He referred to the experience as being “a bit schizophrenic.”12 The wrong season finale
Despite the many hiccups and holdups to its production, Mutant X finally premiered on October 6, 2001. Existing without any connections to the Marvel Universe or the X-Men franchise, the series managed to gain its own fans that continued to tune in each week. As the first season seemingly came to a close in May 2002, the show finished off with the finale “A Breed Apart”.
However, a few weeks later, the episode “Dancing On the Razor” was broadcast in July to conclude the season. Unfortunately, these two episodes ended up being broadcast out of order. It was revealed sometime later that the true season finale for season 1 should have been “A Breed Apart”. Oops!11 The One Issue Tie-In Comic
Although the show itself did its best to steer away from any likeness to the X-Men franchise or any aspect of the Marvel Universe, Marvel did see the profitability of its own comic series. Banking on the initial success of the show’s release, the series received its own spin-off comic book series Mutant x: Origin. The series followed the early life of character Adam Kane.
Imitation is the best form of flattery.
In the story, titled “Once Upon a Time…", Adam and a friend Paul did research on the DNA of the mustard plant in college that drew the attention of the U.S. government, who offered them the Genomex company to work on a cure to genetic diseases. During this story, Eckhart is exposed to radiation, which leads to his vulnerability to diseases. Sadly, the series was limited to this one issue.10 Why Tom McCamus Left The Show
As the series gained in popularity, so did the individual stars and characters of Mutant X. In particular, actor Tom McCamus became quite popular while playing the role of the villainous Mason Eckhart, head of the Genetic Security Agency (GSA).
Although he did enjoy performing on the show, his true acting roots came from the theater. A student of University of Windsor's school of dramatic art, his talent could not be fully displayed on the sci-fi series, and he chose to leave the show instead.
His character was written off of the show at the conclusion of season 1 to allow McCamus to pursue his theater career. He went on to perform in Richard III and The Threepenny Opera at Stratford. He only made occasional appearances on the show in the remaining seasons.9 It Was An Award-Nominated and Winning Series
The growing popularity of Mutant X led to the show gaining another two seasons for the show. The growing Mutant X community expanded well beyond just the existing fans. Critics also took note of the show’s success thanks to its talented actors and writing staff. The series gained the attention of many notable American and Canadian entertainment award shows, resulting in numerous nominations and wins.
The series garnered nominations from the Saturn Awards, Canadian Society of Cinematographers Awards, Directors Guild of Canada, and the Gemini Awards.
The series managed to capture two awards during their initial run. 2002 brought the show’s first win for Best Sound in a Dramatic Series for the episode "The Shock of the New" at the Gemini Awards. In 2003, they won the CSC Award for Best Cinematography in TV Series for the episode "Nothing to Fear".8 Why it was Canceled
Mutant X became quite popular during its initial run and headed for a renewal for a fourth season. However, despite its popularity, the series was abruptly canceled in 2004. News of the cancellation came courtesy of actress Karen Cliché (who played Lexa Pierce) on her personal website. The reason? One of the production companies behind the series, Fireworks Entertainment, had been sold.
IGN reported that “Fireworks was the primary producer for a number of series, mostly action/adventure shows for the U.S. syndication market. As the demand in the U.S. for such programming has declined over the past few years, Fireworks was faced with rising debt.” With the loss of one of its essential companies, producers had no choice but to end the series.7 Fans Campaigned To Bring Back The Show
Dedicated fans of the show were heartbroken at the news of Mutant X’s cancellation. Fans coordinated their efforts to get the series brought back on the air. Fans organized several campaigns and online projects to try to save the series. One of the larger Mutant X fan sites, Pure MX, organized an online petition that collected over 4000 signatures from around the world.
Sometimes the power of fandom can revive a show.
Additionally, the number of online Mutant X fan sites continued to grow in the wake of the show’s cancellation. Fans urged the Sci-Fi Channel to pick up the show since they had recently saved its sister series, Andromeda. In the wake of the failed deal, Tribute decided to air its own version of season 4 called “‘The Best of Mutant X’, a collection of 52 selected reruns from the first three seasons.”6 Forbes March Quit Acting
After starring in Mutant X for three seasons, lead actor Forbes March (who played Jesse Kilmartin) went on to expand his television acting resume. He returned to his daytime soap opera roots again (having previously starred on All My Children) in the years following Mutant X. He went on to play Nash Brennan on One Life to Live and Mason Jarvis on As the World Turns.
In addition, March landed movie roles in Dirty Love and Undone, as well as TV movies like Degrassi Takes Manhattan and Windy City. However, March decided to leave showbiz entirely and official quit acting in 2009. According to an article in The New Yorker, Forbes “moved to Jeffersonville, New York, and established the New York Firewood Company.”5 Kane Was Lex Luthor
Character Adam Kane served an essential role on the series Mutant X. Described as the “the strategist, tactician and moral center of Mutant X,” he helped to lead the team despite not being a New Mutant. Actor John Shea remained in the role for all three seasons of the show. However, this was not Shea’s first role in a hero focused show.
Before taking on the role of Adam Kane, Shea portrayed Lex Luthor.
He played a character with a completely different moral compass than Adam Kane. Shea was Lex Luthor on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman for four seasons, appearing as a guest star in the last three seasons. His role on the series served as his breakthrough part of his career and helped lead him to his part in Mutant X.4 George Buza's X-Men Connections
Although Mutant X “cleaned” itself of any apparent connections to X-Men and the Marvel Universe - despite being a Marvel Studios project - links to the mutant-focused franchise still existed within its cast. For example, actor George Buza, who played the recurring role of Lexa’s Dominion contact, probably sounded very familiar to some fans.
Buza’s most famous part happened to be a voice acting role as Beast on X-Men: The Animated Series. His iconic voice work also appeared in other X-Men properties including the video games X-Men: Children of the Atom, X-Men: Mutant Academy, and its sequel X-Men: Mutant Academy 2. To further add to his X-Men resume, Buza even had a small role as a trucker in 2000 live-action movie X-Men.3 Tribune Entertainment vs Marvel
Though the Marvel vs Fox battle seemed to be resolved, Fox still had unsolved differences with Tribune Entertainment and Fireworks Entertainment. Tribune then decided to sue Marvel for $100 million “for fraud and breach of contract."
There was definitely a blame game going on, between the studio and production company.
Basically, Tribune claimed that the series was supposed to be Marvel based, after all, but backed out of it because of the Fox lawsuit. Marvel then countersued “claiming that it was all Tribune's fault and that in any case, Tribune hadn't even paid them.” The case was eventually settled in 2005,2 Marvel Recognizes Mutant X As An Alternate Universe
Since its original concept, Mutant X failed to be the Marvel Universe show fans had hoped it would be. Because of the various lawsuits, the show was eventually stripped of any elements, characters, and plotlines that even faintly resembled the X-Men universe. Given its outcast state, the events within the Mutant X series will not (and probably will never be) included in the 20th Century Fox’s X-Men universe.
Interestingly enough ,though, Marvel had not turned its back on the series. Though the show did not contain any direct connections to the Marvel Universe, the comic book giant still considers it to be a part of its world. According to TVTropes, “Volume 5 of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z hardcovers, the Mutant X TV series takes place on Earth-704509, making it an Alternate Reality in the Marvel Multiverse.”1 The Series Ended On A Cliffhanger
After its cancellation, even the collective efforts of the Mutant X fans couldn’t bring the show back to life. Fans even had to fight to the series released on DVD. However, Tribune Entertainment took notice of the dedicated fan base and hoped to help them out. Since the series ended on a cliffhanger, the company mentioned the possibility of a two-hour television movie to give the series the ending it deserved.
Fans were close to getting a conclusion to the cliffhanger, but their dreams were dashed.
With this news popping up in 2008, four years after the series had ended, fans gained renewed hope, and a new “Save Mutant X” campaign was formed. However, the project never happened, and fans still lament over the unresolved finale. The fan base, despite having shrunk over the years, still remains dedicated to the show.
Did we miss any crazy facts about Mutant X? Tell us in the comments below!
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