This article contains spoilers for X-Men ‘97 episode 4. 

X-Men ‘97 episode 4 “Motendo” brings back a familiar villain, Mojo (voiced by David Errigo Jr.). Per his usual M.O., Marvel’s weirdest baddie kidnaps a couple members of the X-family, transporting them to a dangerous world of entertainment where they have to fight for their lives for his amusement. This time, newcomer Sunspot (Gui Agustini) and Jubilee (Holly Chou) are the victims, and on the latter’s 18th birthday, no less.

Sunspot and Jubilee are forced inside a 16-bit video game which bears a striking resemblance to the classic X-Men game created for the Sega Genesis (which was perhaps the only other X-Men property which had a theme song that could rival the animated series), and when inside this digital nightmare, the two must fight their way out. Mojo throws everything he can at the young mutants, but along the way, they are helped by a mysterious ally, Abscissa. 

Abscissa is no stranger to the pages of the X-Men, and the animated version of the character is only slightly different. She reveals that she is a digital clone of Jubilee who has been fighting Mojo’s control for decades. It is a meeting of two different generations of Jubilee, and fittingly enough: the show brought back Alyson Court, the original voice of Jubilee from X-Men: The Animated Series to voice the older version.

It was a creative way to not only show these two characters meeting, but for the amazing voice actors behind Jubilee to have a special moment together. Chou and Court recently spoke with Den of Geek about what makes Jubilee such an overlooked yet important character, and what it meant to pass the pyrotechnic-energy-plasmoid-lit torch.  

For Court, recognizing the importance of the stories Fox was telling during the original run of the show only came with a little more experience and maturity. Court was 19 years old when X-Men: The Animated Series first started recording, which isn’t far off from the age Jubilee is intended to be. Having now lived with this character for three decades, she recognizes how important X-stories are to people, and looks back at that time with a little more perspective. 

“I’d never seen a group of cartoon makers be so serious about something,” Court says. “It really felt like we were on the cusp of coming up with a cure for some deadly disease or something with the intensity and the passion behind every single adult involved in the making of the show. So as a teenager at that time, I was sort of thinking ‘cool, you do you.’”

One major difference between Court and Chou’s portrayals of Jubilee is the history (or lack thereof) they had with the character. Chou, like so many of her generation, had these heroes in her life at an early age. When asked about the gateway to X-Men being a part of her life, her response is unsurprising.

“It absolutely was the animated series,” Chou says. “X-Men was not on my radar at all before that. But from then on, I collected comics.”

Chou clarifies that it wasn’t necessarily Jubilee who was her hero of choice at the time. There’s a fantastic Instagram post of a young Holly leaping into the sky to mimic Storm, who was an early favorite alongside Rogue.

“I loved the declarative Storm statements, they seemed so grand and so awesome,” Chou says. “At the same time, we love seeing this sassy Southern belle with such a massive personality. Who doesn’t want to fly or be that strong? They’re both powerful. And you know, who doesn’t think that Gambit’s super cute?”

This writer took a short moment to remind both Chou and Court that the Gambit crop top seen in the very first episode of X-Men ‘97 is making the internet go crazy.

“Right?” Chou agrees. “On the same token, Jubilee was so cool. She goes to the arcade and she has the iconic sunglasses, and she sasses back at the arcade owner and gets to do all these cool fun things and experience.”

Audiences may have noticed that Jubilee’s character has changed, albeit slightly, from the end of the original series back in ‘97 to the current iteration. Her sense of fun and adventure is very much at the center of who she is, but she’s also grown up a little. Perhaps more importantly for a property that has prided itself on inclusivity and representation, Jubilee is more visually accurate when it comes to her Chinese heritage. 

“I’ve had so many people approach me and tell me how glad they are that she looks recognizably Chinese,” Chou says. “I’m sure it wasn’t deliberate erasure of the time, it’s just that was sort of the default aesthetic. But as far as responsibility, I think that the responsibility is there, I just don’t necessarily have to do anything about that deliberately. By not making a big deal about it, by existing, by getting to do this job and play this character and show just one example of the many different kinds of Asian Americans there are, that moves the needle in a way that is important. And it also doesn’t have to be so hard or so loaded.”

Another aspect of Jubilee’s evolution from 1997 to X-Men ‘97 has been how she’s become a bit of a guide to Roberto a.k.a. Sunspot. She’s helped ease him into what it’s like to exist as a mutant, and possibly as a member of the X-Men. That mentor-mentee relationship has always been a key aspect of the show, especially with Jubilee. The surrogate father-daughter relationship between Wolverine (voiced by Cal Dodd) and Jubilee was crucial in the original series, and that relationship apparently runs deep, even off screen. 

“For me, it was always about her relationship with Wolverine more than anything else,” Court says. “That really mirrored the relationship that I had with Cal at the time.” 

Chou considers herself lucky on that front as well. She has several mentors within the cast, naturally coming from the original generation of voice actors. She’s admitted to “fan girling” over the iconic Lenore Zann, who voices Rogue, and has had Zann autograph several pieces of memorabilia already. 

But after “Motendo” was recorded, there was certainly another name added to that list of mentors. The logistics of the episode presented an interesting opportunity, with two Jubilees in the same space, and Chou admits she had no clue what was in store for both Jubilee and Abscissa. 

“When it came time for this episode, I still didn’t know what [the showrunners] were going to do,” Chou says. “They try to keep all this information on a very need-to-know basis. So when I read the episode, I said, ‘am I also doing Abscissa? Am I going to do a different voice, talking to myself?’” 

The effect this show has had on Chou becomes even more visible as the actress, a self-admitted “crier” begins to well-up. “I definitely was crying because, hearing the playback – it applies to Jubilee hearing Abscissa, but also Holly hearing Alyson.” 

Chou directs the next part of her response directly to her co-star. It’s a fairly powerful moment to witness as Court has come full circle and become the mentor, much like Dodd was for her three decades ago. Chou reveals, “It’s the generosity as an actor and just hearing your voice back was sort of like ‘we’re in this together.’ We’re on the same project, we’re castmates, and that’s unbelievable to me.”

It would seem that the mantle has officially been passed. Court, in the most gracious manner, has given Chou her blessing time and time again on social media, even stating that Jubilee is “yours now.” When prompted to coach Chou on how to give the perfect “I got one!” – a line made famous in the original run any time Jubilee took down a sentinel or soldier – Court shrugs it off.

“She doesn’t need any coaching,” Court says. “She’s good. She’s got it. You made it, kid.” 

New episodes of X-Men ’97 stream on Wednesdays on Disney+.

The post X-Men ’97: How Two Jubilees Teamed Up For The Show’s Best ’90s Moment Yet  appeared first on Den of Geek.

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