Today, the kids and I watched a few of Christmas-themed episodes from past Marvel television series -- all of them currently stream-able on Netflix.
First up, we watched the 1990s X-Men animated series, and my all-time favorite episode, season three's "Nightcrawler".
It's not Christmas-themed, per se, but it does happen in winter during a failed ski trip vacation, and introduces team mainstay Nightcrawler to the series.
In the comic books, Nightcrawler was a deeply religious, deeply forgiving, convicted person, and this episode showcases that in an authentic way. The episode is pretty multi-faceted, and positions Nightcrawler's faith against Wolverine's desperate agnosticism against the mob-mentality of good -- but uneducated and scared -- people.
This episode, plus season four's "Have Yourself a Morlock Little Christmas", both show a sampling of the complexity hidden in the stereotypical nineties action cartoon series. Quite honestly, I'm not sure episodes like these two would even be made in today's faux politically correct broadcast world.
This latter episode is a little more nuanced about what being a hero can mean, and the fear that comes from having previously failed as a rescuer -- over and over again.
And while the episode is totally accessible to those not steeped in the X-Men comic book (up to that point), those that are will be rewarded with some fan-service historical reference nods (which makes the struggle with heroic acts more understandable).
We rounded out today's TV episodes with an updated take on the X-Men franchise, with the too-short-lived X-Men: Evolution, and the episode, "On Angel's Wings".
Here, fans are introduced to this series's incarnation of Warren Worthington III, aka "Angel". This is a nice, sweet little episode that in 22 minutes pulls together humble hidden heroism, secret agendas (factional, teen romance, and media), doing the right thing even if the world might hate you for it, and also neatly encapsulates in just a few sequences the complexity and methods of Magneto, the in-series leader of the X-Men nemeses, the Brotherhood of (Evil) Mutants.
I know there are more Marvel Christmas-themed episodes out there, but can't think of all of them right now.
We'll probably end up watching Christmas-themed The Spectacular Spider-Man season two episode "Reinforcement", and "at-least-they're-snow-themed" episodes like Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends "Spidey Meets the Girl from Tomorrow" and "the world is freezing over" story arc episodes of Season Two of The Super Hero Squad Show.
If you have Marvel-themed Christmas suggestions, let me know in the comments.