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Boyd Kirkland Talks X-Men: Evolution

Marvel Animation Age's Jim Harvey managed to sit down with X-Men: Evolution Producer Boyd Kirkland to discuss the final four episodes of the animated show's acclaimed third season.

"'X23' is an exciting, poignant episode, ably directed by Curt Geda and beautifully animated by Mook," says Kirkland. "It's a Wolverine story, and also features Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D."

X23 The title of the episode gets it's name from a new character, created by Craig Kyle. "X23 turns out to be a Wolverine clone," says Kirkland. "She's extremely bitter about her terrible treatment by her creators and blames Wolverine for her unhappy existence. She escapes and goes to the X-Mansion seeking revenge."

One thing about the "X23" episode, that fans will notice immediately is the more gritty atmosphere of the episode. Driven by revenge, the viewers will see most of the episodes through the eyes of a dark character, which will be emphasized in the episode's tone.

"Many of our stories are lighter and have more comedy, but others have been pretty dark and dramatic," says Kirkland. "'X23' just happens to fall into the latter category. Wolverine has always been very popular with fans and with kids, so it's always great to find ways to center a story around him.

"I don't know that our series has a 'usual' tone. We've intentionally tried to vary it to keep it entertaining and interesting."

But once "X23" has aired, don't expect X-Men: Evolution to take a breather. The two part season finale "Dark Horizons," scheduled to air on August 9th and August 16th at 10:30am (ET), will thrust the X-Men into a dramatic confrontation with a new enemy.

"Our two part season finale features the X-Men working together with Magneto's men to prevent the release of Apocalypse," says Kirkland. "Mesmero, under Apocalypse's control, has found the final key needed to release his master."

"The subplot revolving around Apocalypse and the various keys was thought up by story editor Greg Johnson, who introduced the subplot in the 'Mindbender' episode. "Normally, the network prefers stand-alone stories, so we've usually introduced the threads of this plot in such a way that they're not the main story requiring a 'to be continued' tag-line," says Kirkland. "Ultimately, these story threads will culminate in a much larger tale."

Kirkland states that the characters and storylines had to evolve to keep the drama fresh and interesting. "A certain amount of continuity will occur in a series like this even if the stories themselves are self-contained," he says. "As the number and powers of our cast continued to increase, we needed to introduce bigger challenges and threats for them to deal with. However, I don't think any of us anticipated just how big this Apocalypse storyline would eventually become. These things just sometimes just take on a life of their own!"

"Dark Horizons" will delve into the origin of Apocalypse and his plan to escape and take over the world. Hinted at for countless episodes, Apocalypse will finally come face to face with the X-Men. Kirkland says that this season finale will take daring steps, much like the previous finales.

"The network allows us to get more ambitious with bigger, continued storylines in our season finales," says Kirkland. "That's great, because it gives us room to construct more elaborate plots, involving more of our ever-increasing cast. We've also tried to raise the stakes in these stories, introducing changes that will dramatically affect the lives of our characters and the direction of the series."

Dark "Dark Horizons" is no exception, according to Kirkland. "Fans will learn much more about the origin and nature of Apocalypse in our show than I believe was explored in the old X-Men series. The comics provided us with a lot of good ideas, and we're pretty true to that source material."

Kirkland says that the two-part episode climaxes in one of the most visually exciting dramatic sequences that the series has ever featured and will leave fans anticipating the fourth season.

The two-part finale will also leave some plotlines open, to be addressed in the fourth season. One plotline, revolving around the mystery of Magneto's Brotherhood, will be explored further. Expect to see episodes focusing on Colossus and Gambit and why they are working with Magneto in the finale.

"Some of that will be revealed in season four, and X23 will return as well," says Kirkland. "Humanity became aware of the existence of mutants at the end of season two, and in season three there has been a kind of uneasy truce between them. However, Apocalypse will present a threat that humanity cannot ignore, thus escalating their fear of mutants in season four."

"Life just continues to get more complicated and exciting for our X-Men," says Kirkland, "So stay tuned!"