“Girl Power” X-Men: Evolution Episode “Walk on the Wild Side” Has Not Aged Well2e5d7d3c337909dc27078202c9c2c668
X-Men: Evolution is my favorite adaptation of the X-Men franchise. It just edges out the ’90s X-Men animated series because it was able to get better as it went on, without a final season of poor animation and drastic voice acting changes. X-Men: Evolution was able to perfectly blend the teen drama of the characters going through high school with clever uses of their mutant abilities.
I wish so much that the show had gotten that fifth season to do the “Dark Phoenix Saga,” because it set that up masterfully. However, there were some weird episodes. and one of the weirdest was “Walk on the Wild Side” from season two.
“Walk on the Wild Side,” written by Cydne Clark and Steve Granat, starts off with Jean Grey trying to teach Amara (Magma) how to use her powers in dangerous situations. Then, Scott ends up swooping in during training to “save them,” and Jean has to tell him off. This is the setup to Jean, Amara, Tabatha (Boom Boom), Rogue, and Kitty (Shadowcat) all having a massive girl power moment later on and forming a vigilante girl gang called the Bayville Sirens. (It’s always sirens, isn’t it?) Eventually, they stop doing it, just because … vigilantes are bad, which—considering they are already vigilantes anyway—is weird.
I remember watching this episode as it aired, and as a child, it was one of my favorites—the women of the X-Men teaming up together to wear leather outfits and be vigilantes at night, walking dramatically down the hallway like The Craft, and let’s not forget that weird music video interlude. However, I recently rewatched it on Disney+ with a slight cringe, because while the episode has great intentions, it reads as Straw Feminism 101/Girl Power Feminism.
The first issue is the premise. If you look at the episode description on IMDB, it says: “The female X-Men are fed up with playing second fiddle, and form a vigilante crime-fighting group called the Bayville Sirens”—except the female X-Men in this show did not play second fiddle to the guys. In fact, this is one of the series that I felt really understood their powers.
Jean is shown to have a lot of leadership qualities, and there are several episodes that highlight how powerful she is, an episode where Rogue gets completely overwhelmed by all the powers she has absorbed over time, and Kitty gets plenty of character growth. Storm, Mystique, Scarlet Witch, and minor X-Men like Boom Boom and Magma also get interesting story arcs over time and standalone episodes. X-Men: Evolution did justice to the women of this franchise.
Plus, “Walk on the Wild Side” has the messy overall message of showing how, even though they combined some of the most powerful women in the X-Men world, they still need men around to keep them from going too far. Scott gets to play the role of woke bae, keeping a careful eye on the ladies to keep them from accidentally allowing someone to get blown up.
Jean says, at the end, “I guess we took the whole ‘girl power’ thing a little too far,” when all they did was … stop petty crime and stop a crime boss.
It is the very 2000s girl power feminism: all style, but no real substance or message. It’s disappointing because I do remember thinking it was cool as a kid, and it definitely helped make me gay, but it’s just filler, and you know what? I can live with that. Plus, for all the issues with it, I’m glad it does show they don’t need the help of their male counterparts in the end, and they end on their own terms with Professor X telling them to not be Charlie’s Angels.
All that needed to be changed was allowing them to be a female crime-fighting group without having the whole “We don’t need a big strong man to save us” statement at the beginning. It would have been the same episode, but it would have held up much better. But that’s just my thoughts.
I still stand by this music video sequence that makes no sense, though. It slaps.
What’s your favorite X-Men animated series: Evolution, the ’90s series, or Wolverine & the X-Men?
(image: Warner Bros. Television)
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I still stand by that music video sequence that makes no sense, though. It slaps. […]Read More