Thursday, April 4, 2024

WonderCon 2024: X-Men Fandom Panel

By Jonathan Bilski

You could feel a build-up as chairs started to fill up at the X-Men Fandom Panel. WonderCon had the
right idea putting this panel up as the show has just started coming out. Some fans were too late to the party and got stuck outside. And soon, some garbed X-Men enthusiasts, watchers of the old series and new viewers were just waiting for the new voice cast to show up.

Then, the room burst with applause for the original series voice Lenore Zann (Rogue) with new voices AJ LoCascio (Gambit), Holly Chou (Jubilee), Matthew Waterson (Magneto), JP Karliak (Morph), Isaac Robinson-Smith (Bishop), Gui Agustini (Sunspot), and (because someone got booted from their own show) supervising producer Jake Castorena took their seats. X-Reads Podcast hosts Chandler Poling and Chris Riley hosted the event and made it the whole thing possible.

What follows is a breakdown and some highlights from the panel. First, the cast was asked about how they were introduced to X-Men and what it was like being asked to be join the show. Many of cast, of course, brought up the 90's cartoon, Pizza Hut promos, the video games with a "Berzerker Barrage" line from Wolverine & the comics (out of order). It turns our Matthew Waterson (Magneto) went to boarding school as a child and the only X-Men education he got was from other students bringing in random issues.

Holly Chou (Jubilee) as seen on the picture to left loved Storm the most as a kid. She did check, by pausing a video, to see a Sentinel's data, if in fact Jubilee was Asian. And, was happy to see she was Chinese.

She of course, loved the first episode of the original series, Night of Ascension. So, when Chou got the
script with no info on who she'd be voicing she instantly knew what character she was going for. They just took Jubilee's lines from that episode for her to read. That seemed to be the story for most of the voice actors. They were given scripts without identifying the characters and basically figured out on their own who'd they be voicing before it was revealed to them. Disney secrecy seems very real though and in some cases months went by before confirmations.

Sadly, Disney didn't allow any new footage to be shown, much to the tears of the fans in attendance. However, everyone was treated to a reading of the classic line,"Previously, on the X-Men," by all voice over actors in attendance when asked to do it in the Q&A section.

Playing to the crowd and a new love triangle dynamic in the show Lenore Zann (Rogue), sat between AJ LoCascio (Gambit) and Matthew Waterson (Magneto). LoCascio kept up with it spouting how he didn't like how her and Waterson (Magneto) were sharing a mic and what characters should be shipped together. He said, " What only Rogue and Gambit."

Lenore Zann's (Rogue) story was a bit different for how she joined the show initially as X-Men wasn't as big a property before her and the rest of the original cast made it.


"I walked into the studio in 1992 and I saw a picture
of this character who was standing there with an attitude and she had  red hair with a white stripe down the middle. And, she had her hand on her hip and she was saucy. And, I had been told they were looking for somebody who had a deep husky, sexy, tomboy voice. And, so I went into the booth and opened my mouth and I said, 'My Daddy would kill himself if he found out I was a mutant." In Los Angeles, they were grinning like little girls and over the phone they were saying, "Don't let her leave!"

When asked to come back, she hardly believed it and needed convincing it was real and not just some online nonsense.

The audience got to ask questions a few questions at the end. One was to supervising producer Jake Castorena on if the 90's Spider-Man cartoon could be brought back. He's response was essentially go ask Sony, not in a bitter way, there just the rights holder, so Marvel Animation would have to get their permission and other legal loopholes. He mainly said, if you want it, keep bringing it up and telling Sony and Disney.

JP Karliak (Morph) was asked a question about Wolverine which led to a nice thought he had about his character having a platonic friendship in the show and it was just a good thing to show that in such a well known animated series a nonbinary/gay character could just have a good friend. He was probably one of the best speakers at the event. When asked who he wanted his character shipped with, it was everybody.

Finally, we learned none of the X-Men voice actors wanted their character's powers. Mainly, teleportation for travel, flight and Wolverine's power for healing because good medical.

 X-Men '97 is out on Disney+ with new episodes out every Wednesday for a ten episode 1st season.

Before the crowd came, someone watching the original show