Marvel Countdown: Why Casting Cable Also Means Casting a Classic X-Men Villain

Marvel Countdown: Why Casting Cable Also Means Casting a Classic X-Men Villain

Mar 07, 2017

With Hugh Jackman bowing out of the role of Wolverine in Logan, Fox is already actively readying the next generation of mutants to drive their box office. One character that could help anchor possible future films is Cable. The character is tipped to debut in the Deadpool sequel and will likely show up in movies based on The New Mutants and X-Force.

Cable debuted in 1990’s The New Mutants #87 (following a tease in #86) as a mutant paramilitary leader from the future, who takes Xavier’s most promising students down a darker, more militaristic path toward mutant rights. The story arcs that followed would reveal Cable’s complicated backstory. He’s the son of Cyclops and an evil clone of Jean Grey, infected by a “techno-virus” that threatened to consume his infant body. His parents decide to thrust him into a future where his virus can be treated, and it’s there he lives out his life.

The parts of Cable’s body infected with the techno-virus (his cybernetic arm, for example) have enhanced abilities, but his mutant powers are actually similar to Jean Grey’s - telekinesis and telepathy. He brings another set of talents to the table as a skilled gunfighter and military tactician. He’s not quite like Wolverine, but he’s tough and grizzled and haunted by a lifetime of violence.

Stranger Things star David Harbour was most recently rumored for the part. Ron Perlman wants the role so badly that he’s taken his thirst public, as has Avatar villain Stephen Lang. Cable’s creator Rob Liefeld has entertained the idea of Jon Hamm in the role. It’s an attractive cornerstone to the future of Fox’s X-Franchise, so it makes sense that people are actively jockeying for the part.

What few are reporting is that whoever is brought in to play Cable will likely be playing two roles. In the comics, the reason Cable came back to the past in the first place was because he was chasing his arch-enemy Stryfe, the mysterious terrorist leader of the MLF (Mutant Liberation Front). Spoiler if you weren’t reading X-Men comics in the 1990’s, but Stryfe turns out to be Cable’s clone.

When he was a sick infant, Cable was cloned, just in case he couldn’t be cured by the existing tech. That baby (Stryfe) was kidnapped and raised by Apocalypse because Apocalypse thought he was the actual son of Cyclops. Eventually, Apocalypse turns his back on Stryfe when he discovers he’s just a copy of the original. Stryfe grows up with a massive chip on his shoulder against Cyclops, Apocalypse, and Cable, and eventually becomes the time-displaced terrorist who X-Force readers love to hate.

There’s more, and it’s even more complicated than that, but rest assured the movies will have to streamline things to satisfy a single two-hour story. Comics have had twenty-plus years to twist and turn the story of Cable and Stryfe.

There’s a chance Fox may want to keep the Cable/Stryfe connection a secret as best they can, so the reveal on film can have the same impact as the reveal in the comics. In reality, they’re facing a “Death of Gwen Stacy” situation, where the comic book storyline is such common knowledge by fans, that there’s no way it can maintain secrecy before a film’s release.

It is interesting that Logan introduces cloning into the franchise, on the cusp of Cable’s casting. We’ve already gotten a bit of time travel in the X-Men films, now Transigen’s experiments open the door to Stryfe in a big way. Director Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) is ramping up production on The New Mutants and Joe Carnahan (The Grey) is rumored to be taking a crack at an X-Force script. Before we get to either of those though, there’s Deadpool 2 (whatever it’ll be called).

We should note that the Deadpool/Cable connection comes from them crossing paths early in their comic book starts, both created by Rob Liefeld to spice up The New Mutants at a time when sales had been slipping. They make for a classic goofball and straight man comedy pairing, and have headlined their own series together over the years. Sure, we’d rather see Cable get a proper “serious” intro before rubbing elbows with the Merc with a Mouth, but it’s just not in the cards. Fox wants Cable sooner rather than later.

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