What’s that? Pryde of the X-Men isn’t a movie? Well, you’re right in the respect that it isn’t a feature length motion picture. No, instead, it’s a scrapped television pilot sent straight to VHS to in efforts to entice kids and pacify man-children clamoring for yet another animated action adventure. Therefore, as the majority of its target audience would refer to it as ‘my X-Men Movie,’ we’re calling this a Movie Review. On June, 4th 1993 on my first day of summer vacation ever, this VHS was the first videotape I ever rented. Commemorating that anniversary along with the various Pride festivals this past weekend (which, as I discovered, are surprisingly NOT X-Men related at all) made this seem topical. Now, on to business.
Pryde of the X-Men was the first animated adventure starring everyone’s favorite mutants. While they had previously made appearances in the 1960s “Sub-Mariner” cartoon and the 1980s “Spiderman and His Amazing Friends” series, this was their opportunity to carry a half-hour and see if the Blackbird would fly on Saturday Mornings. Well, after failing to connect with test audiences in the mid-80s it was relegated to “Special Presentation” status that networks used to run when they want to make a “special event” of something they know would not and will not lead to anything else. It then remained in the Marvel Vaults until the popular 90s “X-Men” show and 2000s movie made the brand hot again, allowing the pilot to be an ever-flowing teat on the mutant cash cow.
Pride of the X-Men focuses on teenage Kitty Pride’s first day with the team as Magneto storms the X-Mansion and steals Professor X’s
iPad valuable supercomputer Cerebro which he needs to redirect a comet to smash into the Earth. The X-Men travel to Magneto’s asteroid and SPOILER ALERT! save the day. Over 20 minutes we get glimpses of potential toys the colorful characters, action and, dare I say, potential conflicts?! Realistically speaking, it’s hard to judge a pilot because, as many forget, most pilots suck. They’re “solid” at absolute best, and even then never really come anywhere near to the level of quality a show can reach. All things considered, I can think of *maybe* two pilot episodes of a show ever that I would consider “good episodes.” That in mind, it’s still just alright.
Watching this for the first time in years, I’m immediately taken aback by how stunning the animation is. This was produced by Toei Animation (most famous for “G.I. Joe” and “Transformers”), and even by their standards the stylization is exceptional. The action is also fluid and the editing is really well done. While the bare-bones story doesn’t allow for much to be done with these tremendous advantages, they really are something special.
The real legacy of Pryde of the X-Men is twofold. Most notably, it’s the basis for the 1992 painfully classic Konami X-Men Six-Person Arcade Game. Yes, the plot was lifted and turned into countless hours of quarter-spending English-butchering action. And by butchered I mean mercilessly slaughtered. Also memorable about the film is the startling revelation that Wolverine is Austrailian. Eerily predicting Hugh Jackman’s involvement with the character by over a decade, legend has it a line of dialogue involving Wolverine mocking an Australian character by calling him a “dingo” went unchanged after the scene was altered to have him addressing a non-Austrailian character. As a result, we have a Canadian character who talks like this:
Overall, the story falling short of the visuals really stands out and make the entire affair somewhat empty. Austrailian Wolverine aside, the voice talent is really well done, and the dialogue so freely using concepts like death and prejudice was pretty ahead of its time, particularly for a Reagan-era cartoon. As a launching point for a series, I can understand the hesitance and its failure is probably for the better with how quickly it would have become dated, as opposed to the timeless far superior 90s incarnation. Still, without factoring nostalgia, it’s a nice artifact of what 80s children’s programming was geared for, with hints of where it was going to go within the next decade.
We give X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men a Three Out of Five.
Oh, and as a bonus, I’ve worked my Catholic magic to put the entire thing up here to watch right now! Hooray internet!
So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!