Joshua Fine, Director of Development for Marvel Animation and Associate Producer for the first season of Wolverine and The X-Men, knew how the inaugural season of the new X-Men animated series was going to end from the very beginning. Before a single frame was animated, he and the rest of the creative team behind the acclaimed Wolverine and The X-Men knew exactly how that final first season episode, those final minutes, would play out. But no matter how meticulously planned and prepped the show was, the creative team still came across plenty of surprises along the way.
“We had much of the finale mapped out from the start,” says Fine, “But as with any 26 episode season there are always some twists and turns that you wouldn’t expect when you get started.”
“Sometimes you get into the last episodes of the season and realize that a character has evolved to a slightly different place than you expected,” Fine continues. “In order for the story to feel organic, you really have to be attentive to that and not try to force your preconceived plans into place.”
Fine says that the fundamental building blocks were in place when creating the storyline for the first season of Wolverine and the X-Men. The creative team knew the majority of Magneto’s plan, knew that The Inner Circle was after Jean and that Emma was a mole the entire time. These concepts were put into place early on by Greg Johnson and Craig Kyle, the creators behind the new animated series. Wolverine and the X-Men was then essentially constructed backwards to aid in creating and maintaining the show’s assorted mysteries throughout the first season.
“There were some unexpected turns though,” Fine adds. “Emma’s death was probably the biggest for us.”
Given Emma’s role in the series, as a mole strategically placed by The Inner Circle in the X-Men to uncover the Phoenix, it only seemed natural that her time with the team would eventually crack her façade.
“Once we started revealing and exploring Emma’s motivation and her interactions with The Inner Circle in 'Foresight, Part 1,' it started to become clear that there needed to be tension within that group,” recalls Fine. “Given everything that Emma had learned and experienced as one of the X-Men, we realized that the completion of her character journey for the season required some kind of redemption.”
“As soon as we hit upon how that redemption would play out, with Emma absorbing the Phoenix and shattering, we immediately knew it was right,” continues Fine. “It was the emotional hook that we needed to really end the season with impact, on top of just being a really powerful and mournfully beautiful image.”
Fine mentions that the redemption of Emma, and her tragic fate, also nicely brought Cyclops’s arc for the season to a close.
Another twist that happened late in the game was Magneto’s kidnapping of Kelly, according to Fine. Up until that point, the plan was for Magneto to simply goad Kelly into attacking Genosha and then to retaliate accordingly. Those plans changed though as soon as the episode “Aces and Eights” came together.
“We realized that Xavier and Wolverine would be acting irresponsibly if they didn’t at least make the effort to show Magneto and Kelly what was coming,” Fine says. “They needed to have one last ditch effort to lay all the cards on the table.”
Looking back at the first season of Wolverine and the X-Men, Fine is proud of how everything came together to provide an epic season finale, one that he believes paid off in spades. An admittedly daunting task, Fine says the creative team put themselves under a lot of pressure to make sure the first season, and its finale, delivered in a big way.
“We had lots of story threads that we had been building up for 23 episodes and we needed to find a seamless way to intertwine them in a one big, epic finale,” says Fine. “It had to wrap up a lot of storytelling but still feel bigger and more action-packed than anything up until that point.”
“…and I hope fans enjoyed it!”