According to Producer/Writer/Director Boyd Kirkland, the Acolytes provided new, bigger challenges for the heroes to face. The theme of the series was growth, beginning with these guys first discovering their powers, and then learning how to use them while still trying to get along with the "normal" world. According to Kirkland, by season 3, they knew they had to up the stakes. The Brotherhood hadn't really developed into the kind of team Magneto wanted, so he recruited Gambit, Colossus and Pyro. The first two were very popular X-Men characters in the comics, and Kirkland and co. wanted them in their series. But we already had many more heroes than villains, so the writers and producers thought it would be fun and more surprising to break with convention and introduce Gambit and Colossus as bad guys. However, these two would be conflicted about what they were doing, and would eventually join the X-Men. According to Kirkland this is one of the stories that never got to be told.
The writers of the show have admitted that they were big Buffy fans. Using Shadowcat as the catalyst, the two shows, Buffy and Evolution, are uncannily similar. A teenage girl with super powers fights bad guys at high school, while she attends classes. Buffy/Shadowcat have opposition against her with first the school principal and then the city mayor. Coincidentally, Joss Whedon, creator of all things Buffy, admits that he is a fan of X-Men, and based the character of Buffy on Shadowcat, even giving her the surname of Shadowcat's team leader: Summers.
In the third season, a new original character, X-23 debuted. X-23 was the brainchild of Craig Kyle, Marvel's producer over the show. One day he told the producers and writers about his idea, and asked them to work her into the series. Like many other characters originating in comic book media adaptions, X-23 would later be adapted into the mainstream X-Men comics.
The first season was very restrictive. The network felt that action shows like Batman: The Animated Series (1992), etc, had gotten too dark and mature for the kid audience they were trying to reach, so they really kept a tight lid on this show. Once the first season aired and proved to be a big success, the network loosened the reigns a little more with each succeeding season. The good side of this, according to Producer/Writer/Director Boyd Kirkland, is that he had always wanted the show to be more character driven than big action-story driven, so the restrictions actually helped play into that. The high-stakes epochs later in the series really became more meaningful and poignant because of how much time creators allowed the audience to get to know and empathize with the characters.
When the X-Men and Acolytes are separated in the beginning, there was a reason why the writers had Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Shadowcat as a group. In Marvel Comics, they were members of a Europe-based team called Excalibur (episode 3.12 "Dark Horizon Part 2").
One story that Producer/Writer/Director Boyd Kirkland always wanted to tell but couldn't interest the network in, was how Professor X lost the use of his legs, and how he came to know Magneto - to kind of give the back-story of these two characters. Kirkland thought the comics version of Xavier's story wasn't that great, and thought he could come up with something better.
In the original comics, the five founding X-Men were first shown as teenagers similar to how the show portrayed most of the X-Men as teenagers. While Cyclops, Iceman, and Jean Grey are shown as teenagers in the show, Angel and Beast were the only two that were shown as adults.
Pyro in the X-Men comics was an Australian named St. John Allerdyce. When not running around with whatever evil mutant group du jour there was, he made his living as a journalist and writer of trashy romance novels.
In the first episode, all the main X-men (with the excpetion of Nightcrawler) appeared in the original X-men film. The adult X-men in the film consisted of Professor X, Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops and Jean Grey. In the first episode those five are already residents of the Institute with Nightcrawler as the new comer. Interestingly all the villains in the first X-men film are present by episode two. In the films Magneto, Mystique, Toad and Sabretooth make up the Brotherhood. Magneto, Mystique and Toad appear in the first episode and Sabretooth appears in episode two.
The WB network felt the cons outweighed the pros for serial style storytelling, so they didn't allow it except for the season finales. By Season 3, they loosened the reigns on us a bit, so the writers pushed more into stories with continuity.
This show's romantic storylines are one of those areas where the network really boxed the writers in because of Batman Beyond (1999). The writers thought this kind of character development was crucial and consistent with the fact that these X-Men were teenagers in high school, but the WB network felt that 6-10 year old boys (their intended audience) would find such fair just "icky." Often, the crew had to slip stuff like that in visually without writing it into the script, or it wouldn't have made it into the show. They kept pushing it, and the WB network kept saying no, even though they knew that it was popular with their "tween" audience.
Boyd Kirkland had always intended for Spyke to play a "tragic" role, in that his powers would disfigure him and prevent him from blending into normal society. The network didn't want them to go there the first couple of seasons (the theme was too dark for them). One of the recurring themes in Stan Lee's Marvel stories that appealed to him as a reader in the 60's was that great power often came at great personal cost. He wanted to show that in their series, and Spyke's story was a powerful way to do that. It also gave his character more depth, and he was far more interesting when he returned after joining the Morlocks.
One of the episodes featured the original five X-Men from the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby days (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel, and Iceman) working together. Boyd Kirkland, Producer/Writer/Director, had been a fan of the Kirby era X-Men, and thought it would be cool to pay tribute to that. Having Iceman among the new recruits, and having already introduced Angel to the series gave them that opportunity, are not only the original five X-Men from the comic book series. These five characters are also the original five members of another mutant team in the comics called X-Factor. The character of Apocalypse, whom this team of X-Men is trying to stop from being unleashed, first appeared in the X-Factor comic series.
Captain America is the only Marvel Superhero to cross over with Evolution, and is the second superhero referenced during the course of the series. The first being a small Iron Man in-joke from the episode 2.09 "On Angels Wings".
When initially developing the series, the first X-Men (2000) movie was still being shot, so no one working in this show could really refer to it. Only Avi Arad knew what it was going to be, and he didn't share much of that with the rest of the crew (everything was top-secret). He did guide them a little in such things as the style of Wolverine's hair, the look of Sabertooth and the design of Xavier's chair. Beyond that, they were pretty much on their own. By the second season, the movie had been released, and influenced a few things such as the addition of new recruits.
Rahne and Jubilee have been removed from the New Mutants. It is unlikely that they will ever return (episode 3.03 "Mainstream"). We see them in Professor X's vision drawn from Apocalypse at the very end of Episode 4.09 "Ascension II." Magneto "tosses" a gold metal ball to Rahne, and we see the back of Jubilee's head next to Amara aside Bobby's ice slide. This is, presumably a practice session for the New Recruits.
One of the new comics that was out on the stands, at this time, was 'Children of the Atom' so it really wasn't that big a leap to do this show with the characters as teens. The original working title for this show was Children of the Atom.
Toad's theme (which we've seen in episode 1.01 "Strategy X", 1.06 "Middleverse" and 3.04 "The Stuff of Villains") now has lyrics. You can hear them during Toad's first fight with Nightcrawler, and at the end when Toad heads back to Wanda (episode 3.07 "The Toad, the Witch and the Wardrobe").
According to Producer/Writer/Director Boyd Kirkland, their hands were always tied with Wolverine because of the violent aspect of his power and nature, and because he was an adult (the network wanted all of the stories to focus mainly on the kids).
As episode 3.11 & 3.12 "Dark Horizon Part 1 and 2" was the original Season Finale for season 3, the X-Men are not vacationing after those events; the episodes are just out of order (episode 3.13 "Cruise Control").
Steve Gordon was never happy with his original Mystique design. Gordon felt that she had a very dated feel, but the clock was ticking and he just ran out of time. The second design was influenced by the X-Men (2000) film and also a better understanding of what Mystique needed to be as a character. Gordon admits if could have gotten away with a nude - look like in the film they would have it, but Kids WB was not quite ready for that. He also tried to make her more physically imposing and look more like a female weight-lifter - more in the vein of an Adam Hughes character. However, that didn't go over very well so he settled for a more slimmed down version.
Alex has his adopted name, Alex Masters, throughout the series, which was made for this show. In the comics, he is Alexander Summers and is the younger brother of Scott (except in Ultimate X-Men where he is the older brother of Scott). Alex has only had one other name in all his years of comicdom and that is Alex Blanding (only in X-Factor v1 #-1).
There is now a character called Spyke in the comics: First Appearance: X-Force v1 #121. Last Appearance: X-Force v1 #128. Powers and Abilities: extend thin spines from his skin to various lengths or launch them away from his body at high speeds.
Whilst the shows production took place in the United States, the voice cast was from Canada. For the first season, the producers flew to the voice recording sessions in Vancouver every week. Eventually, we hooked up a direct digital line between Film Roman and their studio so I could "sit in" on the sessions without having to be there.
The first opening title featured both a mixture of originally animation and clips from the show. The reel also highlighted each member of The X-Men and showed a brief clip of their powers. The only one missing was Professor Xavier who was removed by the network for being too old for they target audience. A new opening premiered with season three, presumably to include the glutton of new characters introduced. A remixed version of the original theme is also used.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
It is not stated in the cartoons but the Four horsemen of Apocalypse have the titles Death, War, Famine and Pestilence. Professor Xavier represents Death, Magneto represents War, Storm represents Famine and Mystique represent Pestilence.