X-Men ’97: Is Morph based on a Marvel Comics character?

Christopher Baggett
Morph from Exiles and X-Men: The Animated Series

X-Men ‘97 is bringing Morph back, and the character’s new design brings elements of two notable X-Men characters to animation. 

The long-awaited X-Men ‘97 is finally here. The first episodes build on what fans already loved from the original run, including returning X-Men Nightcrawler, Bishop, and Magneto. 

Morph is also among those, which is a surprise. The character originally appeared in the first two episodes of X-Men: The Animated Series before being killed by Sentinels. He would later be resurrected through the manipulations of Mister Sinister before the X-Men saved him. Though he left the team to cope with his PTSD from the experience, he makes a reappearance in the series finale.

While many fans believed Morph to be an original character, that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, while the animated Morph had ties to an obscure X-Men character, X-Men ‘97 will blend that origin with the look of a more current take based on an alternate Earth version of the character.

X-Men: The Animated Series’ Morph is a repurposed X-Men villain

The original Morph from X-Men: The Animated Series is based on X-Men villain Changeling. The character is a fairly obscure villain who many fans growing up with the ’90s cartoon likely never saw, but he’s used in a fairly massive X-Men retcon.

Changeling and Professor Xavier
Dying and seeking closure, Changeling agreed to impersonate Xavier, ultimately dying in his place.

Changeling originally debuts as a member of a mutant terrorist organization but leaves the group when he learns they’re actually led by an alien. Years later, he appears before Professor Xavier, dying of cancer and longing to use his final months to redeem himself before his death. 

At that time, Professor X was preparing to fight off an alien invasion and intended to go into hiding to prepare. He bestowed a portion of his telepathic powers to Changeling so he could temporarily impersonate him. Pretending to be Xavier, Changeling would lead the original X-Men before his death in 1968’s X-Men #42. The team would believe Xavier dead until X-Men #65 when the real Xavier returned.

X-Men ‘97’s Morph is a mix of two characters

The new X-Men ‘97 Morph combines elements of Changeling with the X-Men: Age of Apocalypse and Exiles versions of the character. Changeling was used as the basis of Morph’s design in X-Men: The Animated Series because he was a fairly unknown character. However, the popularity of the series led to a new version appearing in the comics, now using the Morph codename.

Exiles #1
Saved from the timeline before their deaths, the Exiles fixed problems with the multiverse.

With ivory white skin, muted facial features, and no nose, The Age of Apocalypse Morph would be a drastic visual departure from the human-presenting Changeling. A later version of this character from another Earth would join the Exiles, a team of dimension-hopping mutants who fixed damaged timelines, not unlike Spider-Verse’s Spider-Society. 

The Exiles version of Morph has been the most popular version to date and tends to be the template for new Morph iterations. The X-Men ‘97 take updates Morph’s appearance to match the newer design but retains the classic X-Men costume and bomber jacket from the first run of the cartoon. 

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