Marvel animation head addresses “X-Men '97” showrunner exit

Brad Winderbaum, who heads animation at Marvel Studios, speaks with EW about the situation.

Brad Winderbaum, the head of streaming, television, and animation at Marvel Studios, addressed the sudden departure of X-Men '97 showrunner Beau DeMayo that still has fans and press alike scratching their heads.

"I can't talk about the details," Winderbaum tells EW in an interview, "but I can say that Beau had real respect and passion for these characters and wrote what I think are excellent scripts that really the rest of the team were able to draw inspiration from [to] build this amazing show that's on screen.

Asked if he would categorize the parting of ways as a firing, he says, "I don't. 'We parted ways' is the best way I could say."

Reps for DeMayo did not respond to EW's requests for comment.

DeMayo had completed work on season 1 and the not-yet-renewed season 2 of X-Men '97, but, as EW confirmed earlier this week, he was fired from the project with mere days to go before the show premiered on Disney+.

<p>Marvel Animation</p> Marvel's mutants return in 'X-Men '97,' the sequel to 'X-Men: The Animated Series'

Marvel Animation

Marvel's mutants return in 'X-Men '97,' the sequel to 'X-Men: The Animated Series'

The writer and producer, who's been involved with the sequel to X-Men: The Animated Series since 2021, was set to speak with members of the press for additional interviews to promote the show. Even prior to the news breaking, he had been pulled from the media rotation and his ever-active social media presence had been scrubbed from the internet. By Friday, his accounts were reactivated.

Winderbaum also told Variety of the subject matter, "He did excellent work writing seasons 1 and 2, and I can’t wait for fans to see the series. The entire team came together to create a revival worthy of the X-Men’s 60-year legacy. From Stan and Jack, to Claremont, to the Lewalds, we all truly were standing on the shoulders of giants.”

In addition to actively promoting the show on social media, DeMayo regularly posted shirtless gym selfies and he operated a non-explicit OnlyFans account for a time. However, none of that was kept a secret. Though showrunner and writer shifts are fairly common on ongoing projects, the fact that DeMayo's departure comes so late in the process still poses a lot of questions.

In terms of where X-Men '97 currently stands in terms of getting a new showrunner, Winderbaum offers a rundown of where the team is at in the process.

<p>Amy Sussman/Getty; Marvel Animation</p> 'X-Men '97' season 1 showrunner Beau DeMayo

Amy Sussman/Getty; Marvel Animation

'X-Men '97' season 1 showrunner Beau DeMayo

"I've now seen versions of animatics for the entire second season," he says. "Obviously, when you're in that stage, there's a lot of work to do. It's editorial, but it's also still iterative because there's still story to be worked out when you put it on its feet in that way. We're going to start development on the third season very soon. And, yeah, we're trying to figure out who is going to be that voice on the page, but luckily — that's going to come as a surprise — there's many talented X-Men fans, excellent writers."

X-Men '97 will premiere on Disney+ this March 20. DeMayo previously told EW how he connected to the material as a gay Black man growing up within an adopted family, specifically to the themes of discrimination and found family.

"It's always interesting to take Xavier's dream and turn it on its head," he said at the time. "When I first came to this, I was thinking about what the world of the '90s was like, even issues of social acceptance and what does it mean to be different? It was so much more simplistic than it is today. [The X-Men] spent years telling humanity to embrace the future, walk into the future together. What happens when they get hit with a future they didn't see coming? What does it feel like to be on the other end when you feel like that future is leaving you behind?"

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