How “X-Men '97” embraced the 'Magneto Was Right' slogan-turned-meme

Episode 8, "Tolerance Is Extinction, Pt. 1," delivered the thesis of the entire season.

Warning: This article contains spoilers from X-Men '97 season 1, episode 8, "Tolerance Is Extinction, Pt. 1."

Beau DeMayo, the showrunner of X-Men '97 season 1 who has since parted ways with the project, previously told Entertainment Weekly that he wanted to cast Catherine Disher, the original voice of Jean Grey from X-Men: The Animated Series, as the character Dr. Valerie Cooper in the sequel for a specific reason.

"Val has a very interesting arc in our first season, I will say," he said in a February interview. "I remember when I first met with Catherine. I was like, 'You'll be delivering the thesis of the series in this one particular episode, and we are going to be building it very carefully through these episodes.' To me, she was such the heart of the original series, to have her deliver the thesis felt right to me."

That thesis arrived this week in X-Men '97 episode 8, "Tolerance Is Extinction, Pt. 1."

<p>Disney+</p> Magneto of 'X-Men '97'


Magneto of 'X-Men '97'

Bastion (Theo James), a human-machine hybrid and the ultimate evolution of all the Sentinels that came before him, used the same techno-organic virus Mister Sinister (Chris Britton) exposed to baby Cable earlier in the season to rewrite the DNA of humans and create a new breed of Sentinels to destroy the X-Men: human hybrids capable of reproducing. But Val, once on Bastion's side, releases Magneto (Matthew Waterson) from his prison upon discovering how Bastion has been weaponizing civilians — and not just civilians, but the most radicalized of the anti-mutant zealots. When Bastion learns this, Val delivers a speech that DeMayo confirms is the thesis he was talking about.

"You know, in Genosha, I felt a lot of things: pain, grief, admiration for those who fought despite the odds. But you know what the oddest thing was? No one seemed shocked or surprised — not even me," Val begins. "Yes, I was scared, but really I just had the most profound sense of déjà vu, as if past, present, and future didn't matter and never had, because we always end up in the same ugly place. Thing is, Magneto knows us better than Charles ever did, knows we know better, that most of us experience tragedies like Genosha as a bit of déjà vu before getting on with our day. But the scariest thing about Genosha wasn't the death or the chaos. It was a thought, the only sane thought you can have when being chased by giant robots that were built to crush you: Magneto was right."

The phrase "Magneto was right" was popularized by a 2003 Grant Morrison-penned New X-Men comic, in which a young mutant at Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters by the name of Quentin Quire wore a red t-shirt with the Master of Magnetism's face in the style of Che Guevara, accompanied by the phrase, "Magneto was right." It's since spawned actual t-shirts and similar fan merch, as well as a slew of memes online.

While Professor Charles Xavier (voiced in X-Men '97 by Ross Marquand) always preached tolerance and fought for a world in which mutants and humans could coexist with each other, Magneto never believed this. A survivor of the Holocaust, he had first-hand experience of the darkest sides of humanity.

<p>Marvel</p> 'Magneto: Magneto Was Right'


'Magneto: Magneto Was Right'

Writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Todd Nauck further explored the notion that "Magneto was right" in a 2023 comic book run, which was later released as a collection in 2024 with the three-word phrase as its official subtitle. These comics maintain parallels to the arc of X-Men '97: when Xavier leaves Earth to receive life-saving treatments off world, Magneto takes over as the head of his school and lead the super team known as the New Mutants. Similar events transpire on the show when Magneto becomes the new leader of the X-Men.

In "Tolerance Is Extinction, Pt. 1," Bastion's ultimate plan is revealed. Cable shares that, in his future, Bastion created a utopia for mankind built on the subjugation of mutants. He upgraded humans into his hybrids, while any surviving mutants were put into camps and forced into manual labor. "Xavier's dream came true: mutants ushered in a bright and peaceful future as its backbone." This is the future, it seems, that Magneto always knew could happen.

In the grand tradition of the X-Men being a metaphor for the plight of minority groups, DeMayo and his season 1 writers have expertly used the dueling ideologies of Xavier and Magneto to explore the idea of collective trauma, using references to real-life events like the Pulse nightclub shooting of 2016, the "Unite the Right" rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville in 2017, and even 9/11 in various episodes.

DeMayo live-tweeted episode 8 late Thursday night and released his own "Magneto was right" meme.

The episode ends with a now-freed Magneto flying to one of the northern magnetic pole to manipulate Earth's magnetic field. He not only uses his powers to wipe out the human hybrids, but he also destabilizes humanity's infrastructure. Then, in the final moments, Xavier arrives back on Earth and uses his telepathic abilities to call out to his X-Men.

For what it's worth, DeMayo isn't firmly on the side of Magneto. "It sounds so cheesy to say this, I do subscribe to the Charles Xavier model: Even at our most different, there's a lot we still have in common," he previously told EW. "Ultimately," he added, "you can take all the philosophy of Xavier's dream, but if you boil it down, empathy is the way into the future." It would seem Xavier's arrival back home will offer a foil to Magneto's stance.

X-Men '97 episode 9 will drop on Disney+ on Wednesday, May 8, followed by the season finale a week later.

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