X-Men ’97 Director Reveals the Shocking Death of Key Character Wasn’t Originally Planned

WARNING! This article contains major spoilers for X-Men ’97, Episode 5.

X-Men ’97 director Jake Castorena revealed that Gambit’s demise in Episode 5 was not originally on the storyboard.

During ComicBook’s Phase Zero podcast, Castorena talked about the decision-making process, explaining that the death of a major character had always been intended to add depth and consequence to the storyline. Initially, Magneto was considered to be the central figure in this plot twist, serving as a consistent element throughout the series’ development. However, the specifics regarding which character would ultimately face their end changed multiple times. Castorena said:

“Yeah, Magneto. Yes, but Gambit wasn’t the…
You know, it was one of those… Was it always Magneto? Yes. Was it always Gambit? Half.
Magneto was always kind of like the staple. The other character, it wasn’t initially Gambit. I dare not say who it was because it changed a few times. Because as you change script and story, and you push things based on what the story needed was. Who got the bucket, you know?”

X-Men '97

X-Men ’97


Release Date
March 20, 2024

Jennifer Hale , Chris Potter , Ray Chase , George Buza , Catherine Disher , JP Karliak


Marvel Studios


Castorena emphasized that the changes were carefully considered to enhance the series’ narrative drive and ensure that each twist served a greater purpose within the story’s arc. This approach to storytelling, according to Castorena, is what initially attracted him to the project. He said:

“That’s one of the things that really, genuinely, intrigued me about coming to this project. It was like, ‘Oh, we’re gonna take some swings, but it’s all gonna be narratively-driven.’
It’s all gonna be pushing the narrative in a way that’s gonna benefit, story and validating why we’re making these changes.
Not doing this stuff for the sake of shock value, but to genuinely challenge and push narrative forward.”

Severe Consequences Have Always Been Part of the Plan for X-Men ’97

According to Castorena, the intention to introduce more severe consequences for the characters has been embedded in the show’s foundation from the start. This narrative depth was a collaborative vision, heavily influenced by writer Beau DeMayo’s commitment to authenticity.

That’s been in the script, that’s been in the mission statement in the Bible from day one was that, at a certain point, we were going to have our characters in the show start to face real consequences on a level that the OG show and the characters haven’t dealt with before.
Full credit to, Beau [DeMayo] and his genuine approach to wanting to do this. That was something that was talked about a lot in the, in the rooms or in our discussions with visually adapting the script.”


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New Realities in a Radically Transformed World for X-Men ’97

Castorena also reflected on the seismic shifts within the X-Men universe. The sudden vacuum of leadership leaves the team grappling with uncertainty and the formidable task of navigating a radically transformed landscape.

“Magneto is kind of not matter right now? It is just that question, right? It is:
How does our team, these characters we know and love, how do they go into this honestly overnight?
It’s a new world and what are the consequences of that? What are the ramifications worldwide of mutant and human coexistence now?”

X-Men ’97 challenges its characters to confront these issues head-on by raising questions about leadership.

the thing that Charles died for, that was sacrificed for, that Magneto ended up carrying the torch, only to be crushed down in his prime. Right? But, that he rose to the occasion of. It’s exactly that. How do you deal with consequences that are just so big?
And also again, speaking of consequences: What are those ramifications? What are those echo effects? How does it affect human relations? What political aspects does that roll into different schools of thought, pro or against. And, neutral people, not even getting into the team aspects of it. All the different derivatives of mutants and superpowered beings, right?”

X-Men ’97
is currently available to stream on Disney+.