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Marvel’s X-Men ’97 finale solves a 26-year-old Spider-Man cliffhanger

Fans of the ‘90s Spider-Man cartoon finally get their closure

Spider-Man cameo in X-Men '97
Image credit: Marvel Studios

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The season finale of X-Men ’97 just dropped on Disney+, and it was nothing short of explosive. The Marvel Studios cartoon featured the X-Men’s showdown against Magneto and Bastion, as well as some fun cameos, as fans see various heroes from the Marvel Universe including Captain America, Daredevil, Black Panther, and Peter Parker (in his civilian gear). However, sharp-eyed fans might notice something very important about that Peter Parker cameo. Spider-Man is only on screen for a few seconds, and he doesn’t say a word, but his cameo actually resolves a 26-year-old cliffhanger.

Warning: Spoilers ahead for the X-Men ’97 season finale!

Whatever happened to Mary Jane in the '90s Spider-Man cartoon?

Mary Jane Watson from the Spider-Man '90s cartoon
Image credit: Marvel

Before we discuss Peter Parker’s cameo in the X-Men ’97 finale, let’s rewind. From 1994 through 1998, Spider-Man had his own animated series that aired on Fox Kids. The series was set in the same continuity as the X-Men animated series. In fact, the entire team appeared for a 2-part crossover in Spider-Man season 2. Storm would later show up for an adaptation of Secret Wars in the show’s fifth season.

The season four episode ‘Turning Point’ featured a climatic battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. During the battle, Spider-Man’s girlfriend Mary Jane Watson mysteriously disappeared. Unbeknownst to Spider-Man and the Goblin, Mary Jane had fallen into a time-dilation portal. Because the portal machine was malfunctioning, Mary Jane was stuck between dimensions, floating in limbo.

At one point Spider-Man thought he found her, but that turned out to be a clone. When the animated series aired its final episode in 1998, Spider-Man still hadn’t found Mary Jane. The series finale ends with Spider-Man and Madame Web embarking on a quest to find her. According to an interview with showrunner John Semper, had the show gotten a sixth season, Spider-Man would’ve journeyed to the past to find Mary Jane in Victorian England. Carnage would’ve been there too, acting as history’s Jack the Ripper.

To this day, Semper is constantly asked if Spider-Man ever found Mary Jane. In fact, the showrunner opened up his interview with Amazing Spider-Talk by apologizing for never resolving the thread.

Spider-Man finds Mary Jane (Somehow? Somewhen!)

Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in X-Men '97
Image credit: Marvel Studios

Throughout the X-Men ’97 season finale, we see cameos from various Marvel characters reacting to the chaos. As Asteroid M heads towards Earth, Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson can be seen watching the news through a store window. Yes, that’s right – Peter AND Mary Jane. She isn’t trapped in a time-dilation portal, she’s standing next to Peter Parker. Both characters are wearing the clothes they wore in the 1994-1998 cartoon, so there’s no question that it’s them.

This means that sometime after the Spider-Man season finale, Peter was able to rescue Mary Jane. In case there’s any ambiguity, X-Men ’97 showrunner Beau DeMayo posted on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter), “Yes, Peter found MJ.” This isn’t set before MJ disappeared, and this isn’t another water-clone.

Speaking as a kid who grew up obsessively watching the Spider-Man cartoon, this meant so much to me. It’s amazing how a silent cameo can resolve a 26-year-old cliffhanger.

Will there be a Spider-Man '98?

Spider-Man Animated Series
Image credit: Marvel

In addition to his cameo in the season finale, Spider-Man also had a brief costumed appearance in X-Men ’97 episode 8. Posting on X, Beau DeMayo confirmed that this was the same Spider-Man from the 1994-1998 animated series. This led to calls for a Spider-Man ’98 revival. After all, it would give Marvel a chance to resolve Mary Jane’s storyline.

Christopher Daniel Barnes, who voiced Spider-Man in the original series, responded to the fan campaign on X. “Hey everyone! I just wanted to say thanks for all of the positivity and support surrounding the idea of a “Spider-Man 98” revival! I’d obviously love to participate in such an awesome venture! Unfortunately I haven’t been contacted by anyone regarding this possibility and I also currently have no connection to the “X-Men 97” show. But hey let’s remember Stan Lee and remain ‘True Believer’! Maybe I’ll get that magical phone call, have to sign an NDA, and then go weirdly silent on the issue! Here’s hoping!!!”

Marvel Studios hasn’t announced any plans for a Spider-Man ’98 revival. However, given how successful X-Men ’97 was, the idea isn’t crazy. Marvel Studios is currently developing a contemporary Spider-Man show titled Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (formerly known as Spider-Man: Freshmen Year).

If Marvel does greenlight Spider-Man ’98, they have the perfect storyline. After all, we know Peter rescued Mary Jane, but we don’t know HOW he rescued her.

Your move, Marvel Studios.

Join Popverse in our own little X-Mansion as we cover just about everything you need to know about the X-Men. Learn how Marvel's mighty mutants are classified by power, or why the Krakoan Age of comics is coming to an end. And once you're done with those, keep up with the characters' big screen outings via Popverse's X-men movie watch order.