Astonishing X-Men TV Poster Image

Astonishing X-Men

(i)

 

"Motion comic" has violence, deep dramatic themes.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Characters must make difficult decisions that could put others in danger, which makes the right/wrong scale a little fuzzy. But teamwork, responsibility, and accepting differences are also themes.

Positive role models

The two usual authority figures, Cyclops and Professor Xavier, are both troubled in these stories, and neither is shown at his best. Young fans usually love Wolverine, but he very often indulges in antisocial or destructive behavior with few repercussions. Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) -- a responsible teenager -- could be considered a positive female role model, though she does spend some time in a lover's spat with Colossus. The characters can be seen as proxies for the emotional turbulence of adolescence, and in that way, allow teens to safely live out some of their feelings through fantasy.

Violence

Medium-level fantasy violence, mostly superheroes and monsters fighting one another with super powers and imaginary weapons. But the fighting feels intense and serious, as if something heavy were at stake. (Teeth are shown being punched out, etc.) In one story, a character commits suicide, and pools of blood are shown; later he's resurrected as a scary zombie/puppet, moving about while twisted and broken. There's some other somewhat scary imagery as well.

Sex

Kitty and Colossus have a lover's spat, and female heroes are shown wearing skimpy costumes. There's also some brief sexual innuendo, such as references to a "Hilton girl" "dancing topless" or a reference to "tongue kissing."

Language

Language includes "damn" and "hell," as well as words like "bugger," "geek," and "stupid."

Consumerism

The X-Men is a major brand with merchandise, comics, theatrical movies, and more. One off-hand reference to LEGO.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Not an issue, except that Wolverine -- in a voiceover -- says how much he likes beer.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Astonishing X-Men is a motion comic, which is something halfway between reading a comic book and watching an animated cartoon; there's lots of detail, but little movement. The short episodes contain superhero battles, with some realistic and fantasy weapons; the tone is a bit more serious and dramatic than you might expect, with a bit more at stake. Expect some mild language, like "damn" and "hell"; some characters are in romantic relationships, complete with lovers' spats. Female characters wear skimpy, sexy outfits, and there's some brief innuendo. Written by Joss Whedon (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), the show could appeal to a wide range of genre fans.

Parents say

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What's the story?

Told in little "chapters" of about 10-12 minutes each, the stories of ASTONISHING X-MEN -- written by Joss Whedon -- focus on dramatic changes in the lives of the X-Men and raise complex themes. On DVD, groups of episodes are separated into different story arcs with titles like Gifted, Dangerous, and Torn. In one episode, the team members must decide whether to take a "mutant cure" derived from illegal, immoral experiments. In another story, the mutants' practice space ("The Danger Room") becomes sentient and attacks them, using all the knowledge of their skills and powers. Additionally, Colossus returns to the team after a long absence and must deal with his traumatic experience.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

In this "motion comic," the focus isn't on slick or fluid movements; rather, it aims to stay true to the original comic book art. It's as if the original pages were scanned and figures were moved just a little bit to suggest action, instead of showing it. It takes a little while to get used to it, and it can look like "bad" animation, but the artwork is quite powerful, and it makes the drama a bit more mature than in a simpler animated cartoon.

Whedon has a gift for handling ensemble casts and giving each character a satisfying dramatic arc. A great deal happens in the brief running time, from big battles to dramatic turns of character. Problems like romance, adjusting to a new situation, and regret are concepts that any viewer can identify with. On the other hand, action scenes and battles with monsters and robots aren't as kinetic and exciting as they might otherwise be, so viewers will have to use their imagination a bit.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Astonishing X-Men's violence. Does it seem more intense and less playful than what you've seen in other superhero stories? Does the motion comic aspect make the action less intense?

  • Who's the most admirable member of the X-Men? Are any of them good role models?

  • Most of members of the X-Men are given problems to deal with, which makes them seem more human. How do they go about solving or dealing with their problems? What tools do they use? Can you relate to any of their problems?

TV details

Premiere date:October 27, 2009
Cast:Brian Drummond, Mark Hildreth, Ron Halder
Network:Hulu
Genre:Action
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Superheroes
TV rating:NR
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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Kid, 11 years old August 10, 2012

X-tonishing!

I have only seen the 1st episode but I can tell that this show is another great work by Joss Whedon as usual. Great for any fan of X-Men!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Teen, 15 years old Written bytimmyj August 7, 2016

Joss Whedon is just the best

This was quite possibly the best comic book run of any X-Men series or spin off ever. Before I gush about how great the series is, I will warn that this is very much a continuation of Grant Morrison's run on "New X-Men" and some things from that series are mentioned and may confuse those unfamiliar with it. Joss Whedon is one of my favorite writers ever, and he does not disappoint on this. He excels in both "deep metaphor" stories, "character development" stories and "scary villain" stories. He gets all of these characters, but I want to talk about a few of them in particular. Kitty Pryde is a favorite of Joss Whedon (and the basis for the main character in Buffy: The Vampire Slayer) and that shows: he is the best writer for her since Chris Claremont, her creator. The second character is Emma Frost. Emma evolved over Grant Morrison's "New X-Men" run (which I also recommend) from a super villain, who was willing to do the right thing if she could benefit, to a super hero with questionable motives and hilarious quips. Joss Whedon explores every aspect of her character (especially in the "Torn" arc) and keeps consistent with previous runs. Another is Cyclops, so often poorly written, who is utterly NAILED by Whedon. He has done some less then heroic stuff in the past (cheating on his wife, Jean, with Emma, continuing that relationship after Jean dies horribly), but he owns up to that. Also, Emma and Scott (Cyclops' civilian name) are a better team than Jean and Scott ever were. They are both pretty messed up and they have both done (and continue to do) bad things, but they balance each other out and it's fun to watch their banter as they fall in love (and psychologically torture each other, but that's a complicated story). The artwork is also stunning, capturing beauty and utter horror equally well. The big question is whether to read the arc in its original form or watch the motion comic. The motion comic style takes a little while to get used to, but I was still hooked by the end of the first episode. The original comic has a less polarizing style, but it doesn't have the STELLAR voice cast (this has my definitive Kitty and Colossus). Either way, you're set for amazing stories, some food for thought, and stellar art. A lot of very iffy things happen in this series, which makes it hard to recommend for younger ones. The X-Men have always been, and still are, an adopted family, so messages of sticking together and teamwork are prevalent themes, but there are more complex and less friendly ones as well, especially in the "torn" arc. Emma Frost is very rude to everyone and has a lot of morally grey area, which makes her very entertaining to watch, but also a very poor role model for kids. However, most of the core X-Men (besides her and Wolverine) are decent role models. Cyclops has done bad things, and they still haunt him, but he tries to be better and move on. Kitty withstands belittlement from Emma and never gives up. There is plenty of comic book violence (reasonable, as it is a comic book), but some things are scarier (both appearance wise and psychologically) than others. I can think of one example that was made creepier by animating it. The whole "dangerous" arc is very disturbing, and it begins with a suicide, shown on pannel/screen rather graphically. There is a scene where Colossus and Kitty consummate their relationship, and while nothing is shown, Kitty "phases" (term for being able to walk through doors and stuff) through the floor naked, covered only in sheets (everything is covered and this is played for comedy), as well as mention of Scott and Emma having sex (after asking if she has been controlling him, Emma says to Scott "you will never see me naked again"). All language, s--t and above, is censored and wile I remember a few "d--n"s and "h--l"s, the one I really remember is when a student at the school asks to Kitty (a teacher) "are you [bleep] retarded?" which truly shocked me (as intended) and may be of concern to some parents. I do not remember any drugs or serious drinking (Wolverine drinks beer). All in all, I recommend this for teens and up and parents watch before for all under that age.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing