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How X-Men Evolution Turned Two Classic Heroes into Magneto’s Most Complex Minions

X-Men Evolution’s versions of Gambit and Colossus were minor villains in the show — and turned them into surprisingly complex henchmen.

X-Men Evolution recast much of the Marvel franchise as younger characters with more straightforward histories and characteristics. This gave the producers behind the show the chance to develop plenty of classic figures in their own way, making minor tweaks that reinvented characters.

This approach even applied to two typical heroes of the franchise who were instead turned into complex henchmen to the show’s most consistent villain. X-Men Evolution’s versions of Colossus and Gambit may not have been central characters to the series, but their layers of depth made them some of the most compelling minor villains in the four-season run of the show.

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X-Men Evolution initially featured Sabertooth, Mystique and, by extension, the Brotherhood as followers of Magneto, the show’s primary villain. While the Brotherhood were afforded some unique character traits, Sabertooth and Mystique were largely one-note while serving under the Master of Magnetism. In the second season, Mystique became a more independent and complex figure — largely after stepping away from Magneto’s command.

While Sabertooth would remain under Magneto but stay fairly static, he would be joined in the Season 2 two-part finale “Day of Reckoning” by the cartoonishly destructive Pyro, along with the more reserved Colossus and the flirtatious Gambit. The latter two remained relatively minor throughout the series, but the show found ways to incorporate their characterizations in surprising ways — turning them into actual characters.

Colossus was largely stoic and silent in his appearances in the show, often serving as a strong and durable member of Magneto’s Acolytes. Season 3’s “Mainstream” revealed more about the Russian mutant, with the episode’s subplot focusing on Wolverine encountering Colossus while alone. Magneto had sent Colossus to extend an invitation to Wolverine to join their forces and to defect from the X-Men, but Colossus angrily resisted Logan’s accusation that he was a supporter of Magneto — revealing that he’s being forced to work under Magneto for some unknown reason. Season 3’s “Dark Horizon” saw him work alongside his comics love interest Shadowcat and frequent friend Nightcrawler, and he eventually sided with the X-Men during their mission to confront Apocalypse in the series finale, “Ascension.”

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Gambit was seemingly under few obligations to work for Magneto, appearing throughout Season 3 as a consistently skilled agent working for the villain. He was the target of Mesmro thanks to his thieving skills, held his own against rosters of the X-Men, and briefly served as a reluctant peace broker between Wolverine and Sabertooth during “Dark Horizon.”

Season 4’s “Cajun Spice” was an episode largely dedicated to this version of the mutant thief. Recruiting Rogue, the pair relocated to New Orleans, and Gambit brought her to the city to help uncover secrets about his adopted father. The pair ended on tense terms — but the episode repeatedly teased Rogue’s (apparently multiversal) attraction to Gambit, and his ultimate willingness to let her go hints at a softer side of the character.

With both Colossus and Gambit having darker moments in their original comics’ history (with the latter even serving Magneto as an Acolyte for a time), it makes sense that the series would re-imagine them both as prospective agents for the Master of Magnetism, but both characters’ surprising depth hinted at the characters beneath the surface as simple minions. The show even hinted that in the future of this timeline, Gambit would become a consistent ally to the heroes while Colossus was glimpsed in the future actually joined the X-Men. Both characters had their humanities hinted at, and their eventual roles in the show (and place among the team in a prospective future) reinforced a classic trope of X-Men stories: that even the greatest enemies can become trusted friends and teammates.

Brandon Zachary is an Associate Writer with Comic Book Resources and has written for CBR since 2018. He covers breakouts on comics, film, television, video games, and anime. He also conducts industry interviews, is a Rotten Tomatoes certified film critic, and knows SO MUCH about the X-Men. For requests, comments, or to hear his pitch for a third Avatar series that incorporates robots, you can contact him through bs.zachary@gmail.com.

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