X-Men '97's Matthew Waterson Reflects on Magneto's Epic U.N. Speech

Magneto's voice actor reveals how the Trial of Magneto came to be.

We're just a few episodes away from the Season 1 finale of X-Men '97, after the Marvel Animation series has delivered plenty of surprises. One of the most grandiose character arcs of the season has been Magneto (Matthew Waterson), whose role as a newfound ally of the X-Men has gone into some complicated territory. That included an epic sequence in X-Men '97's second episode, in which Magneto is put on trial at the United Nations, only to get the upper hand and convey his pro-mutant message to the world. In an exclusive interview with ComicBook's Phase Zero podcast, Waterson shared his insight on Magneto's speech to the U.N., and the key turning point it signifies for the character.

"I can't say enough about the stuff that I've got to do in this whole series," Waterson revealed in our interview. "I mean, Magneto being who he is, gets to talk a decent amount, and gets to make a pretty good argument for his point of view. Initially reading that scene, and reading through that speech, that was one that we tweaked a lot. We went back to that in additional recordings, because they would decide to change just a line or a word. And every single time, we would read it and think, "This is phenomenal, this sounds great." They would come back and change, sometimes just one line, or one word, and you would go, 'Oh, okay. Oh no, that's better. That hits harder. It's more cutting, it's more succinct, it's more emotionally rich.' We kept working on, "How do we get more into it?' Those sorts of things, that was just fun. The whole speech is so good and is so cutting, in that it's not a plea, and it's not a defense. 'This is why this happened, and I'm willing to take responsibility for my part of it, but I'm not letting you off the hook, for the bits of it that are your responsibility.'"

"Going into where that scene goes to, leading to, what I still think, is one of the coldest and most terrifying threats that I've ever heard made is really, really cool," Waterson continued. "To get to do that speech, and then to have it go into that bit, where you see him struggling so much to maintain what he has promised Charles that he would do, and the outlook that he's promised, that he would take. And still going, 'Let's be clear, it's not that I can't do what I've always done. I'm choosing not to. And if you push me far enough, I can change my mind.' And the way that that whole thing was put together, and the way that it was written, and then once I saw what the directors and animators had done, it worked so well. So it was a blast to get to do. And it was really amazing to finally get to see, once it was all realized, what it looked like when everybody else had put their parts into it, and when the Newton Brothers music was in there and everything, it all added to it. It made me look way better, which was great for me."

Waterson also argued that the U.N. scene essentially encapsulates the mission statement of X-Men '97's first season, especially now that mutant-human relations have been complicated by the Genosha massacre. 

"They put the overall mission statement of the show in the second episode, coming out of one of the characters when everybody — not just watching the show, but everybody in the show was focused on it, because this was Magneto on trial at the United Nations," Waterson explained. "Everybody on the planet in the world, at the time, was focused on watching [and wondering] 'How is this going to go?' Because half of them see him as a threat, and half of him see him as a potential savior. What is laid out in that speech is really an ideal distillation of what the show is trying to say. And I am not better with words than the writers, so I can't do better justice than that. But that idea of, 'Like it or not, we all live in the same place, and we don't have a choice about that. So rather than trying to figure out ways to separate ourselves, when we're never going to be able to do that, we need to figure out how to work together. And that doesn't mean ironing out any differences or anything that we don't recognize, or aren't naturally comfortable with. That means everybody is different. Let's figure out how to take people for what they are, and not try and make them fit into our idea, or our model, or our wish for the way the world might be.'"

Is X-Men '97 Renewed for Season 2?

Work has already begun on a sophomore season of X-Men '97which was already renewed by Marvel Animation prior to the show's premiere.

"We're working on season two. But we haven't started yet. I know a little bit of the storylines and characters," co-composer Taylor Newton Stewart explained in a recent interview. "It's always upping the ante. I mean, it's pretty intense what happens. Yeah, immediately when I was told, I was just like, 'Oh my gosh, what's happening? This is incredible.' So, just as a fan alone, I am very excited."

New episodes of X-Men '97 debut on Wednesdays exclusively on Disney+. If you haven't signed up for Disney+ yet, you can try it out here.