X-Men ’97’s Finale Managed to Tie Up a 26-Year-Old Spider-Man Mystery, Too

X-Men ’97’s Finale Managed to Tie Up a 26-Year-Old Spider-Man Mystery, Too

The third and final episode of “Tolerance Is Extinction,”the season finale of X-Men ‘97, had a lot to pay off—not just from the plot threads it wove throughout its own debut season, but in bringing to a head years of lingering character work dating back to the original X-Men: The Animated Series. But in just a few short moments, the episode managed to pull off a quiet victory for another piece of Marvel animated history, too.

Part way through “Tolerance Is Extinction, Part 3” viewers are treated to a veritable host of ‘90s animated cameos, as we see the world begin to react to Asteroid M seemingly inevitably coming crashing down on the Earth, wiping out life as we know it. From Silver Samurai in Japan, to Doctor Strange trying to mystically perform surgery under fluctuating power, to the Avengers in President Kelley’s briefing room, to Daredevil fighting looters in the streets, it’s a veritable who’s who of ‘90s Marvel animation. And then, among the chaos in the streets of NYC, watching news coverage of the X-Men fighting to stop Asteroid M’s descent, is Peter Parker… and Mary Jane Watson.

Viewers will remember that the climactic fifth season of the ‘90s Spider-Man series saw the shocking revelation that the Mary Jane that Peter had been with throughout the series was, in fact a clone—created from a droplet of a cloned version of Hydro Man developed by the sinister Miles Warren. After Peter was forced to horrifically watch the Mary Jane clone dissolve before his very eyes, he was visited by Madame Web, who offered to aid him in finding the real Mary Jane, in exchange for his help in the dimension-hopping five episodes that ended the series, “Secret Wars” and “Spider Wars.” The very last scene left Peter’s emotional turmoil over Mary Jane unresolved—ending the series right as Madame Web makes good on her promise to help him start searching the multiverse for the real Mary Jane.

Screenshot: Marvel

Ousted showrunner Beau DeMayo took to social media after the finale aired to confirm that the cameo did indeed mean that Peter’s search was successful, and this was the real Mary Jane Watson, rather than her clone. Spider-Man concluded at the end of January 1998, so if we make the assumption that it it was set in a contemporary period—and X-Men ‘97, as the name implies, picked up chronologically where X-Men: The Animated Series left off, give or take a few months—it seems like it didn’t actually take Spider-Man all that long to find her. But what could be a more perfect example of “Parker Luck” than Pete finding the love of his life alive and well, only for them to seemingly almost immediately face certain doom at the hands of a giant asteroid smashing into the U.S. East Coast?

Thank god for the X-Men saving true comic book love, I guess.

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