So, it looks like Fox is rethinking some of it’s X-plans in the wake of X-Men: Apocalypse, but there’s a few projects still on the boilerplate…and, naturally, one of them is X-Force. For this week’s Top 10, I thought I’d air the ten characters I think the movie needs to succeed from the POV of a FOX story executive…sorta like the exercise that Belated Media undertook with their excellent Star Wars prequel critiques. What does that mean?
- Accept the status quo from the end of XM:DOFP and XM:A. The X-men finally form into a proper super-team in the 1980’s, X-men and X2 unfold as we saw them, and the team trundles on more-or-less Dark Pheonix free until the far-future year of 2015.
- No telling what’s to become of Wolverine and Professor X after Stewart and Jackman depart after Logan, so let’s leave them to the side for this one.
- Deadpool is gold, so let’s count that as canon too.
Heeeere we go:
1 – Cable
How do I even begin to explain Cable? His character history is so dense that it resists all attempts at simplification. Wiki dat. Howsabout I give you the concept instead – which is probably what the X-writers are working with anyways.
Conceived as Commander X, the idea behind Cable was a militant mutant leader from a dystopian future who had travelled to the present to correct his awful timeline – by any means necessary. He would take the wussy junior X-team, the New Mutants, and train them up to be Marvel’s Mutant Militia. Key design features: robot arm, messed-up eye, psychic powers, big guns.
From a movie perspective, Dennis Hopeless’ version of the character from 2014’s Cable and X-Force series is a perfect fit. He has some telekinetic powers, but they’re unreliable on account of the random seizures/visions he receives. The visions guide him to the fights that need fighting to prevent a terrible future but are also slowly killing him. It’s a trope, but provides good, human motivation in a character that is sometimes very difficult to explain. It’s certainly easier to understand than half-clone-son-of-Cyclops-and-Pheonix (sorta) – with-a-techno-organic-virus-raised-in-the-future-to-be-a-genetic-messiah-because-Mister Sinister-manipulated-his-parents-and……
So, yeah. Simpler explanation, true to the concept, AND still has a big robot arm, messed up eye, and lots of guns.
2 – Deadpool
Who’s got multiple personalities and highest grossing ‘R’ rated movie of all time? Dead-freaking-pool. With a sequel on the way (if people will just stop quitting….) and higher recognition than most long-time X-men, Deadpool is a must-have for an X-Force movie.
The version that joins X-Force is the comics, however, is a bit further along than Ryan Reynold’s portrayal. He’s had a long journey from a self-interested hedonist to a nihilistic jerk to an accepted and respected (sorta) hero. His tenure on X-Force is one of the Merc with a Mouth’s attempts to do something good with all the lousy stuff that’s happened to him. He’s got no hang-ups about killing people…but he might as well kill the ones who deserve it. He has a desperate need to justify what he loves doing…and the moral high-ground of an X-team lets him do just that. In a weird way, he ends up becoming the team’s (or in this case, Cable’s) conscience – never shying away from bloody work but eager to keep the targets on the right side of the moral compass.
Also, the red eyes are awesome.
3 – Domino
If Deadpool is the ironic angel on Cable’s shoulder, Domino is a commendable devil. Her portrayal in the various X-Force comics has been…uneven – and certainly influenced by another albino femme fatale at the Distinguished Competition – there are a few givens about her: she has a history with Cable and she’s a lucky shot with a gun. Her current incarnation in comics has the power to bend probabilities, basically giving her an internal reason for being extremely lucky – could be a great venue for laughs.
For our movie, though, Domino’s main value is in her devil-may-care attitude. Things always work out for her, why not for everyone else? If one character is most likely to shoot first and ask questions later, it’s Domino…and that’s a useful tool for plotting a movie.
4 – Warpath
The X-men and their related titles usually have two main interests: diversity in the cast and dressing politics in spandex so they can punch and be punched. James Proudstar represents the very best of this tradition.
Born to the Apache nation, James’ brother was one of Xavier’s all-new, all-different X-men, the team that would go on to become the iconic group from Claremont’s run in the 1980’s. As Thunderbird, John was the X-men’s first casualty, heroically sacrificing himself on a mission. Fast forward a decade or so (real time) and James has a titanic axe to grind with the X-men. He blames them for his brother’s death and, although he reconciles with them after confronting Xavier, he maintains a contrarian attitude even while fighting whole-heatedly for Xavier’s dream.
With the present unrest in North Dakota and the pervasive problem with under-representation of indigenous people, Warpath represents a golden opportunity. His super-strength and anti-heroic tendencies would make him an excellent foil to those who blindly follow anyone wearing an ‘X’ on their clothes.
5 and 6- Cannonball and Sunspot
Two holdovers from the earlier New Mutant team, these two are X-Force’s Xavier School drop-outs. Cannonball (Sam) is an eager-to-please keener while Sunspot (Roberto) is a carefree slacker…more interested in picking up and playing soccer than training. There is a deeper significance to their friendship as well: solidarity between a Kentucky coal miner and a Brazilian socialite certainly plays to the X-men’s message of strength through diversity. These two would be a great pair of odd-couple recruits for Cable to train..and their evolving bromance mirrors other successful franchise characters like Star Wars‘ Finn and Poe.
7 – Fantomex
A smooth-talking French thief with the power to create psychic illusions, Fantomex is one of the most visual characters ever created in the X-franchises. His backstory is a bit of a mess but his concept is very simple: an escapee from a genetic weapons program – Weapon Plus – who takes on a persona inspired by the french pulp character Fantomas and it’s Italian homage, Danger: Diabolik.
Fantomex can serve as an update to Wolverine in X2 – an escaped experiment that leads the team back to his creators…and anyone who’s read Morrison’s New X-Men can tell you that the Weapon Plus program is one of the weirdest and creepiest antagonists you could tap for a movie: an artificial, TARDIS-esque world that can accelerate time…and thereby evolve whole generations of super-soldiers in a matter of months. Sounds like a job for X-Force.
8 – Rictor
This defector to X-Force would round out the trainee roster nicely. Rictor is a punk kid who’s rescued by the X-men (X-Factor, actually, who were the original X-men at the time but in disguise and….comics) and uses his earthquake-inducing powers to help his rescuers. His attachment to the ‘X’ is out of loyalty rather than ideology which makes him a contrast to Cannonball, Sunspot, and Cable himself.
A shameless dig at DC’s stereotypical Latino Justice Leaguer, Vibe, Rictor is a lovable trouble-maker whose deep loyalty to his friends sets him up for some powerful drama. Rictor is the guy who runs off on his own, gets kidnapped, and resists interrogation – preferring to suffer than betray a friend.
9 – Siryn
Theresa Rourke provides a link to previous X-men films relatively unburdened by continuity. As the daughter of First Class-er, Banshee, Theresa could easily fill the role of the naive rookie following in her parents’ footsteps. Eager to prove herself, Siryn will throw herself into any confrontation and do exactly what Cable hopes – blindly follow orders.
In the comics, Theresa evolves well beyond her beginnings as a brainwashed member of New Mutant antagonists, the Hellions. She becomes a capable leader, taking over for Cannonball when he leaves X-Force, she tries to reform Deadpool as a partner and sometimes-girlfriend-sorta, and ultimately, a tough-as-nails investigator as part of Jamie Maddrox’s X-Factor Investigations. Having her follow this arc through the X-Force films would be a great plan. At this stage, she’d be an anti-Negasonic Teenage Warhead…a teenage superhero who believes in her cause with pure, youthful enthusiasm. Honestly, it’d be a breath of fresh air amid some of the darker characters.
10 – Vanisher
In the black-ops version of X-Force, Vanisher is taken hostage by the team and forced to teleport them from mission to mission. He embodies the moral grey-ness of X-Force as opposed to the X-men…this team is willing to press-gang mutant criminals into service when they’re needed.
As a character, Vanisher’s roots go all the way back to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s original run on the X-men back in 1963. This version departs widely from his original appearances and adds an important feature: he’s constantly looking for a way to escape. He’s a scorpion on the team’s back…a ticking time-bomb. It’s not a matter of ‘if’ he’ll betray the team, but when…and how much damage he can do on the way out.
Well, how’d we do Geeks? You on board for this kind of X-Force movie?