Ryan Reynolds dropped a bombshell in the after-credits scene of 2016’s “Deadpool” when he named-dropped the time-traveling mutant Cable, teasing the silver-haired mutant's inclusion in the film’s sequel.
Of course, for longtime fans of the characters, it only made sense. After all, the duo has shared many adventures together since their dual debut in the pages of Marvel Comics’ “New Mutants” #86, all the way back in 1990. Now, with "Deadpool 2" scheduled for a 2018 release, reports have begun to spring up linking actors like Michael Shannon (“Man of Steel”) and David Harbour (“Stranger Things”) for the role of Cable.
But while Cable has ties to Wade Wilson, unless you were a fan of the X-Men comics in the '90s and early 2000s, you may be wondering why there's so much excitement over him making the move to the big screen. Much like Deadpool, Cable has starred in multiple storylines, and has important connections to a wide range of characters. He came along during a time period in comics filled with extra-large pouches, trench coats, blaster guns and polybagged covers. Excess ruled the comic book shelves, and no one reflected this trend greater than Cable. Because of that, it can be difficult to pinpoint a single attribute that makes the mutant resonate with fans when he has connections to some of the most popular X-Men.
He is, however, massively important, and rather popular. Now, ahead of his official casting, we examine why actors are lining up to play the militant mutant, and how Cable’s primed to captivate movie audiences when “Deadpool 2” arrives in theaters.
If Wolverine Is Gone, Who Will Protect the Next Generation of Mutant?
It's pretty much a given that Wolverine will go down as the most popular member of the X-Men in the team’s long history. His fandom has transcended comics to include three solo films (including the recently released “Logan”), appearances in six “X-Men” movies, and hundreds of animated adventures. In short, the fans love them some James Howlett.
Many of the qualities people love about Wolverine apply to Cable as well. When Cable was introduced, he had a secret past and an air of mystery about him. Over time, he would run into different characters in the X-universe and it would be revealed that Cable had a connection to them. These were little seeds planted to establish Cable’s importance throughout the publishing line, all without giving clear answers. Having an “air of mystery” as a hero makes you compelling, which in turn causes readers to want to know more and more about you. Plus, more revelations lead to even more mysteries.
Another similarity between the two mutants, aside from neither one of them hesitating to kill when necessary, is they both have had a number of clones and offspring. Bad guys wouldn’t waste their time cloning the heroes if they weren’t important characters, right? Wolverine has a clone named X-23 (played by Dafne Keen in “Logan”) and a son named Daken. Cable and his clone Stryfe were featured in one of the most crucial X-Men crossovers of the early 1990s, “X-Cutioner’s Song.” He has an alternate version of himself that came to prominence in “Age of Apocalypse." This character, Nate Grey, proved popular enough to star in his own ongoing series for a time. Finally, Cable had a son named Tyler and adoptive daughter named Hope, the latter of which has been teased as another possible "Deadpool 2" cast member.
With Wolverine apparently gone from Fox's X-Universe for the time being, it needs a new no-nonsense, combat-ready, grizzled character for its younger mutants to look up to and watch over them. Cable is exactly such a mutant.
Fox's X-Universe Needs Its Own Nick Fury
Another reason Cable is so cool is you can drop him into any type of X-Men story, and he will emerge as a central figure. We’ve seen Cable as a mutant messiah, a time-traveling warrior, and the “Chosen One” prophesied to defeat no less a major X-villain than Apocalypse. Comic book creators have proven they can add Cable to any story they're attempting to tell, and he not only works, he tends to add a layer of additional drama to it. Or, in the case of his team-ups with Deadpool, he can be the perfect straight man.
If Fox continues to encourage its directors to think outside the box, there are many opportunities to tell stories starring Cable that embrace and expand on the legacy of the X-Men. He can time-jump to any period in the X-Men timeline, or set out to exterminate threats to mutants across the globe. The addition of Cable to the X-Universe could, in a sense, mirror the role of Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, offering a storytelling glue to bind together seemingly disparate adventures as Fox continues to build a massive, cohesive mutant-populated world.
A Complicated Family Life Equals Unlimited Storytelling Potential
It may involve flexing some creative muscles to properly explain Cable’s origin on the big screen, but it's a crucial part of the mutant’s history. Nathan Summers is the offspring of X-Men leader Cyclops and Jean Grey clone Madelyn Pryor. When he was injected with a techno-organic virus as a baby, he was sent to the future to be cured. There, he grew up under the teachings of the Askani Son, which turned out to be future projections of Scott Summers and Jean Grey. Yes, it's a long, complicated story, but one that could be summarized fairly concisely in a movie.
As a grown man and seasoned warrior, Cable ventured to the past where he encountered the New Mutants, and the rest is literally history. A film chronicling the young adventures of Cable alone is worthy of a movie pitch, and a film trilogy starting with his birth and the evil machinations of Madelyn Pryor, infection with the TO virus and subsequent battle between the X-Men and Apocalypse’s Dark Riders could be, frankly, epic. These would be a unique set of films that can begin once the character has already made his big screen debut and would involve the craziest comic book origin story ever told on film.
For the time being, we’ll have to wait and see how Fox brings Cable to life in “Deadpool 2” when it arrives in theaters in 2018. Here's hoping that's just the tip of the iceberg, and the studio has plans to fully exploit Nathan Summers' full potential as a cornerstone of its ever-growing X-Universe.