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Did Professor Xavier Really Die At The End Of The '90s X-Men Series?

Fans of the excellent '90s "X-Men" cartoon have been waiting with bated breath ever since Disney+ announced that it would be reviving the beloved series and continuing the canonical storyline as told through the show's initial five-season run. While the show isn't scheduled to begin airing on the streaming service until March 20, 2024, fans have been greeted with a welcome sight as the first trailer for "X-Men '97" has finally dropped.

Though fans are naturally happy to see this particular iteration of the superteam back together, there was one strange detail in the trailer that dedicated viewers might have found confusing. The sneak peek at "X-Men '97" begins with scenes from the series finale that show Professor Xavier (Cedric Smith) dying in a hospital bed.

Of course, this scene does indeed occur in "X-Men: The Animated Series," but how things play out after that is much different than the trailer suggests. Rather than succumbing to his illness, the X-Men leader heads to space with his former lover, Lilandra (Camilla Scott), who explains that the Shi-Ar have the technology to keep Charles Xavier alive. So then, what's going on in the trailer for "X-Men '97?"

Could the X-Men be trying to pull a ruse on the world?

Since the teaser for "X-Men '97" shows both a memorial to Professor Xavier and a coffin going into the ground, we can assume that the world at least thinks that the character is dead. But why would the X-Men try to make it appear that Xavier is dead if he's not?

The most likely reason would be to make him a martyr for the cause of mutant equality. The X-Men have commonly drawn comparisons to other marginalized groups in the past, and this would serve as yet another connection, showcasing the fall of a brave and peaceful leader who hoped to transcend the differences between humans and mutants.

However, what's extra strange is that Magneto (Matthew Waterson) says at the end of the trailer that, according to Professor Xavier's last will and testament, he has left everything to his longtime friend. Since Magneto knows that Xavier isn't dead, this is a very odd way to wrap up the teaser unless it's meant as a deliberate red herring.

Longtime fans of "X-Men: The Animated Series" will also recall that Magneto is somewhat redeemed by the end of the show, helping save Charles' life and saying goodbye to him with the mutant team. On the other hand, with the declaration from the villain in the trailer's final moments, we could see a new leader of the superpowered team.

Will Magneto be leading the team in X-Men '97?

As anyone who's watched the trailer for "X-Men '97" will have noted, the implication is certainly that Cyclops (Ray Chase) will be the new de facto leader of the mutants. Heck, he even uses the iconic Professor X line, "To me, my X-Men," in the trailer. Still, if what Magneto says is true, then it will be up to him who takes over the job.

Though some fans may not know this, Magneto has led the team before. This typically leads to situations where Cyclops and Magneto have major disagreements about which way to proceed with situations involving the fate of mutantkind and how they should continue to tackle their ongoing missions.

Still, considering the sinister tone that Magneto adopts in the first proper look at "X-Men '97," it's possible that his sympathy for his old friend was just a blip on the radar. With that in mind, whether he will continue to seek his own ends and attempt to usurp the place of humanity in favor of mutants will likely be a key point of contention for the series when it arrives on Disney+ in March.