The X-Men film franchise is experiencing an all-time high in pop culture with X-Men: Days of Future Past. When the movie series started in the year 2000, it was unclear if comic book movies were just a flash-in-the-pan or the beginning of a new genre. It’s pretty clear today that comic book movies are here to stay, but back in the late 90s, the would-be genre struggled to gain legitimacy after Batman Forever and Batman & Robin.
But before the film series became the film franchise, Fox was tinkering around with the Marvel Entertainment property on TV. In 1996, Fox experimented with the X-Men property with the made-for-TV movie Generation X, which was intended to be a TV pilot for a new series, Generation X followed the students of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, including Jubilee, Mondo, and Skin. While the made-for-TV movie didn’t feature Professor X, it did feature Emma Frost and Banshee as the school’s headmasters.
Its central conflict came from the Mutant Registration Act that requires all mutants to register with the U.S. government and the "super villain" Doctor Russel Tresh, a mad scientist obsessed with mutant genetics. At its core, Generation X was an early teen drama that featured the X-Men and had it been successful, it would’ve given the property a very different outcome then how it is perceived today. Generation X’s legacy is that it was shot on location at Hatley Castle in British Columbia, which was the same location as the Xavier Institute in the movies.
In some ways, Generation X is the ideal way to watch the X-Men, as a week-after-week teen drama, only with superpowers. A group of teenagers from various parts of the country, forced to live with each other at a private school. Sounds like Gossip Girl or The Carrie Diaries to me. While the movie series is successful at heavy action and storytelling, it almost misses the mark when it comes to character interactions and heavy drama. After all, X-Men are very closely related to soap operas and other melodramas with love triangles and amnesia plot lines. The TV format is perfect for this type of storytelling.
I’m not saying that Fox should give up the ghost when it comes to X-Men on the big screen, but they should consider giving TV another shot. A new live-action TV show could open up the world of the X-Men and feature characters that haven’t been featured in the movies such as Jubilee, whose teenage angst ridden life is perfect for the small screen.
Here’s the biggest problem: Generation X wasn’t very good. Its production values and special effects were low, its script was downright terrible, and its villain was goofy and laughable, but the premise of a teen drama set at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters showed a lot of potential. With Marvel Studios taking on [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](series:722469) and [Marvel's Agent Carter](series:1119765), and DC and Warner Bros taking on [Arrow](series:720988) and [The Flash](movie:15273), now is the perfect time for Fox to consider rebooting Generation X, or some other X-Men centric TV show.