Magneto and Rogue in a scene from X-Men '97, Season 1. This image is part of an article about when does X-Men '97 Episode 8 Come Out?

X-Men ’97 Continues Marvel’s Proud Tradition of Creepy, Age-Inappropriate Crushes

X-Men ’97 Season 1’s second episode, “Mutant Liberation Begins,” left many fans reeling with the revelation that Magneto and Rogue were once an item. Wasn’t this age-inappropriate affair a betrayal of Marvel’s wholesome values?

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Not really, no. As any long-time X-Men comics reader can attest, the Children of the Atom’s 61-year history is sprinkled with crushes or outright romances that, by modern standards, don’t pass the smell test. We’re not talking about lesser-known characters, either. Professor X and Colossus both pined after female X-Mansion residents who were years (even decades) their junior.

So, far from tarnishing the X-franchise’s legacy with its Rogue/Magneto pairing, X-Men ’97 is simply continuing its proud tradition of crushes (and more than crushes!) that are a bit… icky.

Professor X Pined After Jean Grey in Early X-Men Issues

Charles Xavier reflects on his crush on Jean Grey in X-Men #3

Arguably the most infamous age-inappropriate crush in the X-Men canon is Charles Xavier’s secret, unrequited love for Jean Grey. Ol’ Chuck makes his feelings clear to readers – but crucially, not to Jean herself – in 1963’s X-Men #3. In fairness, Xavier’s internal monologue acknowledges that a relationship with Jean is a non-starter while he’s still her teacher. But otherwise, Professor X’s only real qualms about showing up at Jean’s room with flowers and chocolates is his wheelchair-bound status. The fact that Jean is in her mid-late teens at the time doesn’t enter the equation.

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Now, this kind of thing was more commonplace in the 1960s. Older gents often married women 10 or even 20 years younger than them, including college professors and their former pupils. And Xavier’s age is a bit ambiguous in those early X-Men issues. Sure, he’s bald, but he could easily be in his late 30s/early 40s, unlike the 60+ Professor X we know today. Still, Xavier lusting after a barely legal girl in his care is innately dubious. Even Marvel agrees; in 1996’s X-Men #53, Onslaught – a baddie partly formed from Professor X’s consciousness – exposes Xavier’s repressed crush on Jean, and it’s positioned as a quasi-betrayal, not an innocent infatuation.

Colossus Dated Kitty Pryde When She Was 14

Cover art for Astonishing X-Men #6 featuring Kitty Pryde and Colossus

By contrast, the Colossus/Kitty Pryde romance is somewhat less controversial – even though it involves an actual minor. Kitty joined the X-Men when she was just 13 and developed a full-blown crush on Colossus by the time she turned 14. The Xavier Institute’s resident Russian import initially resisted Kitty’s advances, however, they eventually began dating. We don’t know exactly how old Colossus was at the time, but he was in his late teens, at least. Regardless, he’s an adult and she’s canonically underage – it’s hardly a pairing X-Men comics today would promote.

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Again, this wasn’t considered all that scandalous in the 1980s, when the comics depicting Kitty and Colossus’ courtship hit shelves. College freshmen dating high school seniors – Kitty gradually aged up as the 80s wore on – wasn’t necessarily taboo (although it wasn’t roundly endorsed, either). And Marvel has consistently maintained that Kitty and Colossus kept it chaste while she was a minor. Heck, they didn’t actually knock boots until 2006’s Astonishing X-Men #14, when Kitty was well and truly in her 20s. So, Colossus dating Kitty ultimately didn’t break any moral boundaries (or actual laws), although it sure came close.

Magneto/Rogue Is Tame by X-Canon Standards

Rogue and Magneto's romance in X-Men '97

Which brings us back to Magneto and Rogue. X-Men ’97 Season 1 hasn’t fully explored the duo’s romantic history, however, it’s heavily implied their fling happened when Rogue was in her late teens (or early 20s, at best). Given Magneto was probably in his 50s at the time, it’s easy to see why this doesn’t sit well with some fans. Funnily enough, Magneto and Rogue have also shacked up on multiple occasions in the X-Men comics without really raising any eyebrows, for two very specific reasons.

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For starters, in the comics, Rogue first hooked up with Magneto in her mid-20s. So, regardless of your personal feelings on age gaps, they were both portrayed as fully mature, consenting adults. Plus, Magneto had previously undergone a transformation that restored him to his physical prime. Biologically (if not chronologically) he and Rogue weren’t that far apart in age.

It’s unclear how much of the above applies to X-Men ’97 continuity. Maybe we’ll find out Rogue was actually much older when she and Magneto got together, and Magneto’s buff bod certainly suggests he underwent some kind of rejuvenation. Either way, X-Men ’97 putting Magneto and Rogue together doesn’t trample on the X-Men‘s legacy. If anything, it pays homage to it – warts and all.

X-Men ’97 is now streaming on Disney+, with new episodes dropping Wednesdays.


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Leon Miller
Leon is a freelance contributor at The Escapist, covering movies, TV, video games, and comics. Active in the industry since 2016, Leon's previous by-lines include articles for Polygon, Popverse, Screen Rant, CBR, Dexerto, Cultured Vultures, PanelxPanel, Taste of Cinema, and more.