The Geek Beat: Examining Marvel's X-Force

The Geek Beat: Examining Marvel's X-Force

Mar 24, 2017

There's a lot of talk right now about X-Force, Marvel Comics' popular mutant team that's expected to make its big-screen debut at some point after the Deadpool sequel hits theaters.

Anyone who was reading comics in the '90s is likely well aware of the team, as the 5 million copies of X-Force #1 that were sold in August 1991 make it the second highest-selling American comic book of all time. But like so many other comic-book teams, X-Force has been through a lot of changes over the years – and not just in its roster of characters.

With 20th Century Fox planning to introduce X-Force into its cinematic universe at some point in the near future, it seems like a good time to get familiar – or even reacquainted – with the uncanny, enigmatic, and ever-changing mutant team.


Offshoots and origins

The team that would become X-Force started off as The New Mutants, a group of former students of Charles Xavier who had grown into adulthood but weren't part of the official X-Men team. In the late '80s, their adventures were joined by the mysterious mercenary Cable, a mutant whose origin was shrouded in uncertainty (and only got more confusing as details were revealed). Cable's involvement with the team soon shifted their focus toward a more aggressive, strike-first stance against threats to mutantkind. As he became the team's mentor and strategic leader, the series began taking a darker, more adult tone, and the roster was joined by characters with more than a few bodies in their past.

The New Mutants comic book series eventually changed its title to X-Force to reflect this new direction for the team.

Given what we've already seen of the young mutants of the X-Men movie franchise coming into their own in the past and the brief glimpse at the current state of things that Deadpool provided, it's not too difficult to see where a mutant team might form outside of the managed academics of Charles Xavier's school. After all, mutants tend to be depicted as the best defense against other mutants – both in comics and the movies – so the core reason behind the team's existence (to counter threats against or by other mutants) seems to have already been set up for the big screen.

Going dark

There have been multiple iterations of X-Force comic book series over the years, with a long list of characters added and subtracted from the team's roster. One thing that's remained relatively constant, however, is the perception of the team as the group of mutants tasked with working outside the law – often by any means necessary – to protect both mutants and humanity.

In recent years, X-Force has been positioned as a “black ops”-type unit that's often required to take lives and make tough, compromising moral decisions for the greater good. The team frequently counts the most accomplished killers and mercenaries from the mutant world – sometimes even reformed villains – among its members, and their adventures have unfolded in the darker corners of Marvel Comics' mutant universe.

While this hard-edged mutant team might not have been an easy sell for Hollywood a few years ago, the success of both Deadpool and Logan has effectively changed the game when it comes to entertaining such ideas. Both Wolverine and Deadpool have been members of the team in Marvel's comics continuity, so it's no surprise that an X-Force movie is suddenly not just on the table, but in the works.


Roster revolution

Over the years, the X-Force roster has included a long list of characters from around Marvel Comics' mutant-verse, with many individuals joining the team for a few issues and departing shortly thereafter. The core team, however, was initially led by Cable and the mutant Domino – two characters that will be introduced in the upcoming Deadpool sequel.

They were joined by Charles Xavier's former student Cannonball, as well as a host of other, gritty mutants – some created specifically for the series. In many cases, characters that might not be able to carry a series independently were brought into the team from elsewhere around the X-Men universe, and the team's edgier nature afforded the series' creative team the ability to bring in former villains on occasion, too.

The latter was the case for Deadpool, who began as one of the team's recurring enemies, but eventually developed into a prominent antihero – and occasional hero – as fans warmed to him.

With three of the most prominent characters from the early years of X-Force already on the screen or expected to debut soon, the pieces certainly seem to be in place for the team to make its grand entrance. What once seemed like wishful thinking for X-Force fans is fast becoming a reality, and now it seems like only a matter of time before the secret strike team of Marvel's mutant-verse has its name on movie theater marquees.


This week's question: What do you hope to see in the X-Force movie?

Rick Marshall is an award-winning writer and editor whose work can be found at, as well as MTV News, Fandango, Digital Trends, and various other online, print, and on-air news outlets. He's been called a “Professional Geek” by ABC News and Spike TV. You can find him on Twitter as @RickMarshall.

Categories: Features, Geek
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