X-Men ’97 fans left reeling after brutal episode – but what does ‘Magneto was right’ mean?

Magneto X-Men '97

Episode eight of animated revival X-Men: ’97 featured a famous phrase: “Magneto was right.” But what does it mean?

X-Men: ’97 was released in March, to critical acclaim and rapturous applause from the gays after every episode – not least because of the sexy voice actor behind Gambit. It’s a continuation of the much-loved animated 90s show featuring Marvel’s merry band of mutants and has breathed new life into the X-Men.

The central themes of the franchise – primarily, how minorities live in a world that hates them – are as present in the series as they have been since the very first iteration of the heroes flew/teleported/crawled their way on to comic book pages, then into cinemas for live-action films (of varying success).

Throughout the franchise’s lore, friends-to-enemies Charles Xavier/Professor X and Erik Lehnsherr/Max Eisenhardt/Magneto, have represented two sides of the same coin when it comes to mutant acceptance. And yes, when we say “mutant acceptance”, you’d be right to note the parallels between the queer community and the X-Men.

Charles’ ethos has always been that peaceful cohabitation between mutants and humans is possible, but Erik, who in X-Men ’97 becomes the leader of the group, recognises that the oppressor (humans) will always exert their power over those they view as “less than” (mutants). It follows, therefore, that they have no choice but to fight back.

Fans of the show will recognise the phrase “Magneto was right” as a reference to his view being the correct one, and that humans will continue to exercise dominance over mutants unless strongly warned otherwise.

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“Tolerance is Extinction” is the first of the three-part finale to the series, and features the phrase in a key moment of the episode. Faced with new baddie Bastion’s plan to turn humans into weapons to use against mutants, government official Val Cooper frees Magneto from prison.

As Magneto flees his cell in a pair of skimpy black briefs, Val muses on events, including the fact that the genocide in mutant oasis Genosha is viewed as a mere blip in the day of most humans, and says: “Magneto was right”: i.e. humans and mutants cannot co-exist.

As she says this, Magneto uses his powers to cripple humanity’s global infrastructure, sending a stark warning to humankind, namely: do not f**k with mutants.

Echoed by other X-Men, such as Beast, later in the episode, the attitudes of mutants in the series mimic those of frustrated minorities in real life.

“Perhaps the professor’s vision for the future was too near-sighted,” Beast says. “And begging for tolerance was our first mistake.”

Fans reacting to the recent episode applauded the inclusion of Magneto’s phrase, with it striking a particular note for queer viewers.

“Magneto in ’97 ep 8 omg…” one wrote.

X-Men ’97 is the first project from Marvel Studios featuring the mutants since the company regained the film and television rights to the characters with the acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney, and was created by Beau DeMayo, who left the project days before it dropped.

X-Men ’97 is available to stream on Disney+.