X-Men '97 Is Pulling From A Controversial Rogue And Magneto Storyline

Spoilers for "X-Men '97" to follow.

Love is in the air on "X-Men '97" with Rogue and ... Magneto??! Apparently, the two have a history (notice how Rogue is the only X-Man who's been calling their new leader by his first name Erik, not his supervillain moniker Magneto). Now that Magneto has joined the X-Men, old feelings are surfacing.

In episode 2, "Mutant Liberation Begins," the pair share a private chat dancing around their history; Magneto tells Rogue he made a mistake by shutting Charles Xavier out (with a psychic-blocking helmet and all), saying he should've kept people who cared for him close — implicitly including Rogue too. She says she wants to keep their past buried, but at the episode's end, they meet in private again; apparently, Magneto's power can nullify Rogue's deadly touch, so she can experience intimacy with him that she can't with anyone else. A heartbroken Gambit spots Rogue exiting Magneto's office.

The third and most recent episode, "Fire Made Flesh," continued the teasing. Rogue/Magneto apparently haven't admitted the connection to their comrades, but they've been booking a lot of private Danger Room time together. When the Goblin Queen makes the X-Men see hellish visions, Gambit sees one of Rogue and Magneto with their skin melting together.

I hope "X-Men '97" offers some clarity as to what their past relationship was. In the original series, Rogue and Magneto shared no such connection. Then again, Rogue was a mutant terrorist in a previous life, remember, and had her memories of it erased (as shown in season 2's "A Rogue's Tale"). Plus, she doesn't want her comrades to know about her relationship with Magneto.

Plus, this isn't unprecedented; Rogue and Magneto have a romantic history in the comics.

Rogue and Magneto in X-Men Comics

Rogue/Magneto begins in "Uncanny X-Men" #269 (by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee). Rogue winds up in the Savage Land (a tropical region in Antarctica where dinosaurs still roam, as seen in season 2 of the original "X-Men" series). Magneto is also calling it his home and he saves Rogue from the personification of the Ms. Marvel half of her personality, which she absorbed from Carol Danvers (also semi-adapted in "A Rogue's Tale," minus Magneto).

They grow closer, especially since Rogue has temporarily lost her powers and can touch people. In "X-Men" #274-275, they team up to liberate the Savage Land from the evil Zala Dane. However, despite Rogue's pleading with his better angels, Magneto executes Zala Dane, renouncing his previous turn to good and commitment to live by Xavier's dream. Rogue leaves him before any relationship can begin.

This story happens at the tail end of Chris Claremont's 17-year "X-Men" run (he was forced out by editor Bob Harras after issue #279). However, Rogue/Magneto wasn't Claremont running out of ideas (he never really did). I can see why he thought to bring them together; they're both reformed villains, after all. Plus, this actually happened just before Rogue and Gambit's relationship began (Gambit was introduced only in "Uncanny X-Men" #266 and he only started flirting with Rogue in Jim Lee's relaunched "X-Men," which was the aesthetic influence on the cartoon).

While nothing ever actually happens between the two here, later writers did not forget Rogue and Magneto's connection. In the alternate "Age of Apocalypse" timeline, Rogue and Magneto are married, with Erik using the same electromagnetic trick to let Rogue touch him as in "X-Men '97."

Further X-Men romance

Later in the 1990s, a younger clone of Magneto named Joseph joins the X-Men (he's initially believed to be the man himself but with amnesia). Rogue and Joseph's bond is where a romance between her and Magneto begins in earnest. In "Uncanny X-Men #341" (by Scott Lobdell and Joe Madureira), Joseph gives Rogue a Christmas gift; an alien device that can nullify her powers' deadly effect on people. They test it by Joseph kissing a skeptical Rogue on her forehead. Tragically, Joseph gives his life to stop the original Magneto in "X-Men" #87 (by Fabian Nicieza and Alan Davis).

Rogue and Magneto (not Joseph) briefly rekindled their relationship in Mike Carey's "X-Men: Legacy" (a run that focused predominantly on Rogue). This one ends in "X-Men Legacy" #274 (by Christos Gage after Carey left) after Erik proposes marriage to Rogue and she declines.

Mind you, I don't think Rogue and Magneto is the planned endgame for "X-Men '97." Former showrunner Beau DeMayo told Empire that the creative staff consider Rogue and Gambit to be the X-Men's "one true pairing." I think by the season's end, Rogue will ultimately choose Remy over Erik.

Does this bode ill for Magneto's attempt to turn good? In "Uncanny X-Men" #275, Magneto tells a pleading Rogue, "I am not Charles Xavier. I will never be Charles Xavier. I was a fool to try. As he was, for believing I could succeed."

So far, Magneto's arc in "X-Men '97" has been about trying to fulfill Xavier's dream and his friend's trust in him. It's easy to imagine him failing, with those same words, and pushing Rogue away in the process.

"X-Men '97" is streaming on Disney+, with new episodes dropping every Wednesday.