An “X-Force” movie has been in development at 20th Century Fox since as early as 2013, and late last month concept art purportedly connected to the film surfaced online. It featured X-Force stalwarts Cable, Domino, Warpath, Cannonball and a mystery female member of the team. Rumors have also circulated that Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool could join the roster of writer/director Jeff Wadlow film. There’s a plethora of directions the “Kick-Ass 2” helmer’s story could take, along with a number of potential lineups — as X-Force has been known for reinvention in its long Marvel Comics history.
Starting in 1991 as a successor to original X-Men spinoff “New Mutants,” “X-Force” became a phenomenon for Marvel. While the team and the title have enjoyed both ups and downs, “X-Force” was a staple for years; and though there’s no current series featuring the team, a comeback is likely not too far away. Some of Marvel’s greatest mutant heroes (and several memorable villains) have suited up as members of “X-Force,” and while we wait on more official details as to what incarnation the potential film version of the team will most resemble, CBR looks back at the history of Marvel’s other greatest team of mutant heroes.
The Age of Extreme Begins
“New Mutants” Vol. 1 #86-100, “X-Force” Vol. 1 #1-62
By the waning days of the ’80s and the dawn of the 1990s, the young heroes that comprised the New Mutants were no longer the wide-eyed innocents fans met in 1983 when the series began. Sales began to wane and the book floundered for direction until writer Louise Simonson and artist Rob Liefeld took control and reengerized the series. Starting with the mysterious Terminator-like mutant soldier Cable, the duo began a period of intense creative energy that carried the title to issue #100. Characters like the Mutant Liberation Front, Gideon, Shatterstar, Feral, Stryfe and more were introduced, and when writer Fabian Niciezia replaced Simonson he and Liefeld introduced a character that would eventually take Marvel and the comic world by storm in the form of Deadpool. With Niciezia, Liefeld changed the New Mutants’ roster and mission. Now led by Cable, the team’s members were X-babies no longer. Cannonball, Sunspot, Boom Boom and Rictor joined with Warpath and new additions Domino, Feral and Shatterstar to become an entirely new and very aggressive team of mutant warriors — X-Force. Readers responded in kind, making Cable and his new pack of scowling, pouch-wearing warriors one of Marvel’s all-time bestsellers with “X-Force” #1.
“X-Force” Vol. 1 #63-115
After Liefeld left the tiled to co-found Image Comics, Niciezia, artist Greg Capullo and later writer Jeph Loeb kept things firing on all cylinders. Yet by the mid-’90s, sales on “X-Force” began to wane and Marvel began to tinker with the book, taking the militant team of mutants and handing them to writer John Francis Moore who turned the series into a road trip book. With Cable enjoying solo adventures in his own title, Cannonball, Sunspot, Warpath, Siryn and returning New Mutant Moonstar remained at the book’s core. The book failed to reach previous heights and Marvel once again tried to capture lighting in a bottle during the Counter X initiative that saw superstar writer Warren Ellis take control of several X-books. Along with co-writer Ian Edginton and artist Whilce Portacio, “X-Force” returned to its military roots as the team because an elite mutant strike unit led by black ops specialist Pete Wisdom. The book had its edge back, but sales didn’t follow, eventually leading to the end of the era that began in “New Mutants.”
“X-Force “Vol. 1 #116-129, “X-Statix” #1-26, “X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl “#1-5, “Wolverine/Doop” #1-2
By the early 2000s the extreme ’90s fell out of flavor. Enter Peter Milligan and Mike Allred, two creators who were about to introduce a diverse group of mutants — whether anyone was ready for them or not. Gone were the familiar heroes of the previous era, replaced by Anarchist, Dead Girl, U-Go Girl, El Guapo and a mysterious floating green seemingly-alien entity named Doop. Many classic X-fans were angered this hip new X-Force, but the title garnered a fiercely loyal following and critical acclaim that fueled success for this satirical team of mutant for several years, even as the titled transitioned from “X-Force” to “X-Statix.”
“X-Force” Vol. 2 #1-6, “X-Force: Shatterstar” #1-4
Once the Milligan and Allred era wound down, Marvel returned to the extreme well and brought back the original creative team of Niciezia and Liefeld. With them came the return of Cable, Shatterstar, Domino and other familiar faces. The excitement surrounding the relaunch was tempered by Liefeld reusing some of his old “X-Force” pages as part of this new series, however. Marvel followed up the Liefeld homecoming with “X-Force: Shatterstar,” rekindling some ’90s nostalgia at the House of Ideas.
“X-Force” Vol. 3 #1-25, “Cable/X-Force: Messiah War,” “X-Men: Second Coming”
After Liefeld’s return, Niciezia worked his magic on two of X-Force’s favorite sons in the ongoing “Cable & Deadpool” but the X-team itself lay dormant. In 2008, co-writers Craig Kyle and Chris Yost oversaw the return of Warpath, Wolfsbane and Domino as members of a new X-Force. Joining this old school grouping were Wolverine, X-23 and Archangel as a strike force that got their marching orders from X-Men team leader Cyclops. The more violent the team became, the more fans seemed to respond to this clandestine, grey-clad version of X-Force.
“Uncanny X-Force” Vol. 1 #1-35
Things took a turn for the epic when Wolverine assumed the leadership reigns. The only previous member to return in “Uncanny X-Force” was Archangel as Wolverine assembled the most violent collection of mutant heroes ever including Psylocke, Fantomex and the return of Deadpool. Under writer Rick Remender’s purview, the Uncanny X-Force team took part in some truly memorable epics, including a deadly showdown with mainstay villain Apocalypse. Many of the ideas, themes and character developments followed Remender to the pages of Marvel NOW!’s flagship “Uncanny Avengers” series and this era of “Uncanny X-Force” remains one of the most stirring and epic eras in the team’s history.
“Cable and X-Force” #1-19
In 2012 Cable returned to take command of the team he started. Writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Salvador Larroca’s take found Cable plagued with prescient visions of the future and a team made up of Colossus, Dr. Nemesis, Forge and Domino. Their mission was to stop Cable’s premonitions from becoming reality. Unfortunately, this aggressive team of saviors soon became fugitives from the law, as the series saw the unit evading authorities while trying to save the future.
“Uncanny X-Force” Vol. 2 #1-17
That same year, Marvel was still running high on the “X-Force” concept and decided to do something different with the second volume of “Uncanny X-Force.” From the original Liefeld run to the ultra violent reboot of the 2010s, X-Force had always been aggressive and male-driven. This version of the team was led by Storm and Psylocke who were joined by Spiral, a female version of Fantomex, and the dwarf Puck, the team’s lone male. Written by Sam Humphries with art by Ron Garney, this team stood on their own for 17 issues before the weight of two “X-Force” titles proved too much for an increasingly competitive market.
“X-Force” Volume 4 #1-15
2014 saw the two X-Force teams become one as part of the All-New Marvel NOW! initiative. Under the creative watch of writer Simon Spurrier, this new team combined the disparate squads’ two leaders, Cable and Psylocke. These two X-legends assembled a small team consisting of Dr. Nemesis, Fantomex and Marrow that took part part in more than a year’s worth of odd adventures until the curtain closed on the “X-Force” franchise once more — for now, at least.