‘X-Men ’97’ Theory Thursday: What’s Next Following the Genoshan Massacre…and Who Was Likely Behind It

In what was almost certainly the best episode of Marvel Studios’ streaming era, X-Men ’97‘s “Remember It” shattered the peaceful feelings of nostalgia it had established with an emphatic and traumatic blow. The episode’s carnage, caused by a Wild Sentinel, may have been equally deleterious to mutants and fans of the series; however, both must push on and with the series just past its halfway mark, it’s time to look back in order to look ahead and see what might be coming for the remaining X-Men following the massacre on Genosha.

It looks as though showrunner Beau DeMayo thoughtfully provided fans a week to recover from “Remember It” by spending Episode 6 wrapping up Storm’s very personal side story in “Lifedeath Part 2.” That looks to be followed by a Rogue-centric episode, “Bright Eyes”, before the three-part season finale, “Tolerance is Extinction.” Extinction is a pretty common theme for the X-Men and has been central to more than one major arc in the comics, however, the series has provided enough clues to help zero in on which of those arcs may have served as the prime inspiration for the final three episodes.

Who Was Behind the Wild Sentinel?

Episode 5’s attack on Genosha was clearly inspired by Grant Morrison’s first three issues of New X-Men; however, to say it was ripped straight from the pages of that run, titled “E for Extinction” would be wildly incorrect. In fact, the episode seemed to draw at least some inspiration from the X-Men’s Krakoan era with its stylish gala taking center stage, an event at which the most recent mutant massacre occurred. So, rather than a straight adaptation, it seems as though X-Men ’97 is doing a little mixing and matching in mass murder and will probably do so again with the revelation of who is behind the attack on Genosha.

Morrison‘s New X-Men introduced Cassandra Nova into the X-Men lore and immediately made her one of the most vile villains within it. The beginning of the end of the Krakoan Age was orchestrated by Orchis in Gerry Duggan‘s X-Men: Hellfire Gala 2023. As fun of a theory as it is, there’s no evidence Nova was behind the attack and there’s been no mention of Orchis so far. However, upon closer look, a prime suspect for the attack arises and it’s one who was behind another large-scale attack against the X-Men in the comics.

Who Is Your Baddy and What Does He Do?

I’m 1997, Marvel Comics published Operation: Zero Tolerance, an event that ran across its major X-titles. In it, the Sentinel Android known as Bastion set out to –you guessed it–exterminate mutants. As many outlets and social media types have speculated and theorized, Bastion is almost certainly behind the attack on Genosha, which definitely set his extinction plan off on the right foot. And, as it turns out, Bastion has already appeared in the series at least once, if not twice.

In search of regaining a connection to her mutant powers in Episode 4, Storm agreed to enter one of Forge’s wondrous inventions. As she and Forge walked through the maker’s lab, several pictures could be seen on the wall, including one in which half of a very comic-accurate-looking Bastion could be seen along with Forge. Additionally, there’s a mysterious white-haired man spotted passing right in front of “the camera” in Episode 5 just after Magneto enters the gala. It’s impossible to confirm that’s Bastion, however, it’s entirely possible he was there to make sure his terror attack would be as deadly as possible. And, since he’s just getting started, he’ll likely unleash his greatest creations on the mutants: Prime Sentinels.

A final piece of evidence that could indicate that Bastion is the mastermind of the attack on Genosha could be the arrival of Cable at the gala. While he was unable to save everyone, the Askani’son’s attempt to stop the attack and share that “he” is coming is still informative. “He” rules out Cassandra Nova and it’s also worth pointing out that Nathan Summers plays a key role in Operation: Zero Tolerance over a three-issue run of James Robinson‘s Cable title.

Is It Really Bastion?

With so many stories from which to draw inspiration, it’s possible that several villains could be behind the Genoshan massacre. That said, there’s enough evidence to strongly support a reasonable claim that Bastion will be revealed as the key conspirator. As in the comics, he almost certainly won’t be working alone, bringing some of the team’s most hated foes from X-Men: The Animated Series back into play but, as of now, it seems that this game of Clue ends with the reveal was Bastion, in the lobby, with the Wild Sentinel. Buckle up for the final five episodes of Season 1 of X-Men ’97!

About Operation: Zero Tolerance

“Operation: Zero Tolerance” emerges as a pivotal saga within Marvel Comics X-Men mythology, featuring a widespread crackdown on mutants orchestrated by the formidable adversary Bastion. Bastion, driven by a deep-seated animosity towards mutantkind, spearheads the deployment of an army of advanced Sentinel robots and Prime Sentinels, including cybernetic operatives infused with nanotechnology, to systematically eradicate mutants.

In the heart of the conflict are the X-Men and their allies, with Cable playing a crucial role as both a warrior and a strategic leader. As tensions escalate and the stakes soar, Cable’s tactical brilliance and combat prowess become invaluable assets in the battle against Bastion’s relentless assault.

“Operation: Zero Tolerance” unfolds as a gripping exploration of persecution and resilience, as the X-Men confront insurmountable odds while striving to protect their own. Amid the chaos and danger, alliances fracture, sacrifices are made, and the bonds of friendship and family are tested like never before.

Through the interplay of characters like Bastion and Cable, the storyline delves deep into themes of prejudice, heroism, and the enduring struggle for survival in a world plagued by fear and bigotry.

About Prime Sentinels?

The Prime Sentinels are a formidable faction within Marvel Comics’ expansive universe, originating as a byproduct of the mutant-hunting Sentinels program. These cybernetic entities were initially ordinary humans implanted with nanotechnology, transforming them into enhanced operatives programmed to track and neutralize mutants. Introduced during the “Operation: Zero Tolerance” storyline, they were engineered by Bastion, a powerful adversary with a deep-seated hatred for mutants.

What distinguishes the Prime Sentinels is their ability to mimic human behavior, seamlessly infiltrating society while secretly executing their anti-mutant agenda. Their integration into various societal roles, including law enforcement and corporate positions, makes them particularly insidious adversaries for mutantkind.

Despite their human appearance, the Prime Sentinels possess advanced combat capabilities, including enhanced strength, agility, and energy projection, making them formidable adversaries even for seasoned mutants. Over time, they have proven to be persistent threats, adapting and evolving their tactics to counter mutant resistance.

Driven by a relentless dedication to their mission, the Prime Sentinels serve as a chilling reminder of the ongoing struggle between mutants and those who seek to eradicate them, embodying the ever-present threat of persecution and discrimination in the Marvel Universe.

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