The X-Men are officially in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as of Ms. Marvel, starring newcomer Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel. The newest Young Avenger was confirmed to be a mutant after the controversy surrounding her power change from the comics, where she lost her Inhuman polymorphic abilities. The reveal came with a riff from one of the greatest theme songs of all time – the theme of the original X-Men: The Animated Series (1992). But many Marvel fans may not realize what it took to get that song into the MCU.
The X-Men theme song is considered one of the most iconic theme songs of all time. X-Men: The Animated Series aired for five seasons from 1992 through 1997, producing a total of 76 episodes. It was confirmed that Marvel Studios will be reviving the series with X-Men ’97 headed to Disney+ in Autumn 2023. It also recently popped up in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) when Sir. Patrick Stewart cameos as Professor Charles Xavier.
However, the rights to the song have been tied up between multiple parties for decades. It was composed by Ron Wasserman, Shuki Levy, Noam Kaniel, and Amotz Plessner. Shuki Levy founded Saban Entertainment with Haim Saban, which worked on many of the most iconic shows of the 1990s, such as Digimon, Power Rangers, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, and of course, X-Men.
Then in 2019, Zoltan Krisko filed suit against Marvel, Disney’s Buena Vista Television, Saban Entertainment, FOX, Apple, Amazon, and other media companies connected to X-Men: The Animated Series on behalf of the estate of Gyorgy Vukan. He claimed that the X-Men: The Animated Series theme song was stolen from his series Linda, a Hungarian police comedy/thriller that aired between 1984 to 1991.
That lawsuit has not yet been resolved, but according to X-Men ’97 consultant Eric Lewald, who spoke recently at Pennsylvania’s Steel City convention, Marvel Studios and Disney have managed to secure the rights to the theme song. He told audiences:
“[The X-Men: The Animated Series theme song] wasn’t a done deal necessarily when they were producing the new show. The rights were all over the place. I think a secondary person had the rights to the music, so it was a negotiation for them. Obviously, you can’t do the new show without that song. […] But the guy selling it knew the same thing, so I’m sure it was a heavy price.”
X-Men ’97 will feature the voice talents of original X-Men: The Animated Series cast members Cal Dodd as James “Logan” Howlett / Wolverine, Lenore Zann as Anna Marie/Rogue, George Buza as Henry Phillip “Hank” McCoy / Beast, Alison Sealy-Smith as Ororo Munroe / Storm, Chris Potter as Remy Etienne LeBeau / Gambit, Catherine Disher as Jean Grey / Phoenix, Adrian Hough as Kurt Wagner/Nightcrawler, and Christopher Britton as Mister Sinister
Norm Spencer, who voiced Scott Summers / Cyclops, passed away in 2010. New cast additions include the voices of Jennifer Hale, Anniwaa Buachie, Ray Chase, Matthew Waterson, JP Karliak, Holly Chou, Jeff Bennett, and AJ LoCascio in undisclosed roles. Marvel’s X-Men ’97 is streaming in fall 2023 on Disney+.
How much do you think Marvel Studios and Disney shelled out for the X-Men theme song, and do you think it was worth it? Let us know in the comments.
You can stream Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Simu Liu’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and the seven series in Marvel’s Phase Four so far — Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany’s WandaVision, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, Marvel’s What If…?, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, Oscar Isaac’s Moon Knight, Iman Vellani’s Ms. Marvel, and Tatiana Maslany’s She-Hulk — on Disney+ anytime