With Twentieth Century Fox having subscribed to Josh Brolin as Cable, the X-Men’s premier time-traveling mutant, the studio may have toppled the final domino in its bid to get the recently rebooted X-Universe into place. Fans have called for continuity in the X-Men movies, but with a revolving door of directors (from Bryan Singer to Brett Ratner to Matthew Vaughn to Singer…again!), it’s been hard to nail down. However, the arrival of Cable may change all that.
“Deadpool” star Ryan Reynolds campaigned hard to include the character in next year’s sequel, showing fans how much he understood his character’s rapport with Cable. All of this came amid a directorial change that ultimately saw director Tim Miller leave and David Leitch (“John Wick,” “Atomic Blonde”) stepping in, with an argument over who would play Cable reported as the main point of contention. The arrival of Cable isn’t just another bit of big-name casting, however. The popular mutant has major importance in his potential to plug gaps and help propel the X-Men filmverse forward.
“Deadpool” and “Logan” were quite successful, both critically and at the box office, and helped reset the tone for Fox’s stories. Cable offers a different kind of recalibration, one which will allow Fox to finally adjusting its overall narrative for the new era of the children of the atom, thus building a truly cohesive on-screen universe. That said, just how crucial may Cable end up being to Fox’s mutant franchise?
Cable Could Be the X-Men Universe’s Nick Fury
Nathan Summers, the son of founding X-Man Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor (a clone of another founding X-Man, Jean Grey) debuted in 1986’s “Uncanny X-Men” #201 as Cable, a seasoned, war-torn veteran from the far future. He built on his early appearances in “New Mutants” in the early ’90s, taking on a role as the team’s mentor before creating and leading X-Force. The latter has boasted Deadpool and Domino among its ranks, which makes “Deadpool 2” all the more critical as Zazie Beetz will be playing Domino.
It’s easy to imagine Cable recruiting both of them, and more, for his “X-Force” roster, similar to how Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury assembled his Avengers in the MCU. As a time-traveler, Cable would have information on when he needs to bring a team of mutants together, whether it’s to prevent a second coming of Apocalypse, to stop the techno-organic virus, or some threat we’ve never seen before, even in the comics. And, like Fury, Cable is all about contingency plans, and is willing to do whatever is necessary to safeguard the world.
The Cable That Connects Fox’s Various X-Teams
2018 and 2019 will see “New Mutants” and “X-Force” unleashed in theaters. Rather than follow the comics’s traditional order of appearance, Fox may choose to kickstart the latter first, likely based on Rick Remender’s epic “Uncanny X-Force” run which included Deadpool and Domino on the team, alongside Psylocke and Archangel. The latter pair was introduced in “X-Men: Apocalypse,” which means they’re already on the board, ready to recruit. In the comics, Wolverine led this team under Cyclops’ orders, but it’s a simple fix to have Cable lead them on screen, spinning off from the “Deadpool” sequel.
It would make sense for Cable, whose job is to deal with all threats via any means necessary, to be the catalyst for this black-ops team. From “X-Force,” Cable could then make his way to “New Mutants,” where James McAvoy is rumored to be circling as a returning Xavier. His military acumen would cleverly complement the softer philosophies of the Professor when it comes to training Dani Moonstar’s team, a group he took over after Xavier and Magneto both tried their hands at training them in the comics. Having strong ties to two teams opens up a world of storytelling possibilities, possibly even leading to a civil war akin to the “Schism” comic event.
Of course, he’s not simply a team leader, so Cable solo film would also make sense, perhaps linking to the mad geneticist teased at the end of “Age of Apocalypse,” Mister Sinister, or even a straight-up Deadpool team-up as per the comics. Cable has shared in just as many teams as Wolverine, so there’s no shortage of windows of opportunity once Fox starts to expand, but what potentially makes him the most valuable mutant in Fox’s portfolio is our next point.
Cable Is The Perfect (Potential) Reset Button For The X-Films
It’s always great to have an ace up your sleeve, a “break glass in case of emergency” type of storyline out should things go wrong. In Fox’s case, the risky soft reboot of the X-Men film verse seems to be paying off, but should things go off the rails, it’s not a bad idea to have a character in the game who could serve as a walking, talking “do-over” button.
Cable, as we’ve established, is a time-traveler. As such, should Fox deem it necessary, it would not only work to have him go back in time to start things once again. Cable could be the man to help Xavier find Cyclops, Jean, Angel, Iceman and Beast, time paradoxes be damned! His future tech would make the creation of science like Xavier’s Danger Room and Cerebro come off as a bit more believable.
Perhaps most importantly, Cable’s time-traveling ability may lead to the films introducing a new and younger Wolverine. Whether its a new actor from a different time stream, or a time-shifted X-23/Laura Kinney, brought back from the future to help out in the modern day, Cable is probably the key to introducing a new face as the franchises most popular mutant.
Fixing Fox’s Wolverine Quandry
As established in “Logan,” the future is both grim and hopeful for mutants. Key among them X-23, a young mutant whose movie story would sync perfectly with one of Cable’s comic adventures that is in turn perfect fodder for an epic big screen adaptation. Subbing in Laura for Hope, a character whose time-traveling history is even more convoluted than Cable’s, a movie featuring the pair slipping through time while Bishop (introduced in X-Men: Days of Future Past) hunts them down would be the perfect vehicle for aging the character quickly with the end goal of her becoming the new Wolverine. From there, it’s a simple matter of adding Laura to the “X-Force” sequel, or as a new X-Man.
But then again…
The New Face of Fox’s Mutant Movie Superstars
With Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine officially retired, a new poster boy is needed, and despite his undeniable popularity, it’s unlikely Fox will make it the foul-mouthed Deadpool.
Jackman was the face of the X-Men for quite some time, and was actually one of the few well-received castings from Fox, particularly in the franchise’s early days. He always turned in solid-to-great performances, even when saddled with shoddy scripts, and fans were heartbroken when he rode off into the sunset with “Logan.” Of course, his exit from the X-Men filmiverse leaves an opening for Brolin’s Cable to pick up where Jackman’s Logan left off.
Unlike Wolverine, who’s berserker tendencies always caused a bit of a disconnect when trying to have him interact in a PG to PG-13 way, Cable’s more disciplined personality can fit in anywhere, anytime… literally! And much like Jackman, Brolin is a seasoned, talented actor who can not only take on solo roles and own them, but has a presence that can elevate rather than overwhelm an ensemble cast.
The Leader Fox’s Mutants Deserve – And Need
When you look at the comic book epics Cable’s been involved in, there’s a big common actor in virtually all of them: he’s a natural-born leader. Despite being a loner at times, he’s more of a team player than Logan, making him the perfect character to tether heroic mutant factions together across Fox’s expanding filmverse. Cable provides a voice of authority the X-Men/Force would follow in the field, the sort of voice that has been sorely missing since Cyclops died in the dismal “X-Men: The Last Stand.” When the Fox timeline was revamped in “DOFP,” we got a very nascent version of Scott Summers, so it’s likely going to be a while before Cyclops reaches leadership level again.
Enter, Cable. He’s done this his entire life. And if we can’t have Cyclops as a full-fledged leader, and Jackman’s legitimately hung up the adamantium claws, Yes, Brolin’s initial contract reportedly has a four film cap, but then again, Robert Downey Jr. originally intended to be done with Tony Stark several movies back. And as Fox steps up the world-building across its X-franchise, there’s little doubt that convincing the 49-year old actor to come back for more turns as the franchise’s resident grizzled veteran is a move — perhaps the move — that would pay huge dividends in crafting a truly cohesive on-screen universe.