When you hear that Fox is developing a Madrox, the Multiple Man film starring James Franco, the question that is naturally on many movie fans' minds is, "Wait, who the heck is Madrox, the Multiple Man?" If you're one of the lucky fans to know the answer, you know that Franco might have attached himself to one of the most engaging characters in the X-Men universe. And for those of you who have no clue who the mutant is, we're going to fill you in on the history of a very cool and unique character.
Jamie Madrox debuted at a very strange time in mutant history. He first appeared in Giant-Size Fantastic Four #4 (by Len Wein and Chris Claremont and drawn by John Buscema, Chic Stone and Joe Sinnott). You see, Len Wein was becoming the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics and he had to cut back on his writing duties. He was about to start a run on Fantastic Four but had to abandon it before he could even begin because of his editorial duties. So what would have been his first issues of his run were instead put into a Giant-Size issue.
That story introduced Madrox the Multiple Man (who Wein originally wanted to name Zerrox). He was a young mutant who lived with his parents on a farm. They had built him a suit to prevent his powers from going haywire, but after their deaths, the suit malfunctioned and suddenly every little piece of contact was forming a duplicate of Madrox. He ended up going kind of crazy due to it all and fought the Fantastic Four (Madrox actually single-handedly defeated the Thing!). At the end of the issue (after fixing his suit), the Fantastic Four dropped Madrox off with Professor X to have him help Madrox with his powers. That seems normal enough, right? So what was so strange about it? Well, Giant-Size Fantastic Four #4 came out about a month before a different Giant-Size book, Giant-Size X-Men #1, also written by Len Wein! For whatever reason, Wein never considered including Madrox as a member of the All-New, All-Different X-Men.
Eventually, Claremont revealed that Madrox had ended up at Muir Isle, working as a lab assistant to Moira MacTaggert at her genetics lab there. He showed up in a couple of stories set at Muir Isle, but he was pretty much a non-existent character between 1975 and 1987. That briefly changed in 1987 when Madrox was one of the members of an odd miniseries called Fallen Angels (by Jo Duffy and drawn by Kerry Gammill, Marie Severin, Joe Staton and many inkers).
The concept of the series was that Sunspot injured his best friend, Cannonball, during a game (Cannonball is quite vulnerable, it seems, when he is not blastin') and he was so distraught over what he had done that he ran away from the school. Warlock followed him and the two ended up in New York City, where they befriended an eclectic group of young super-powered teens. Madrox was sent by Moira, along with another mutant that no one was doing anything with, Siryn, to keep an eye on Sunspot and Warlock. They ended up falling in with the group, as well (and Madrox and Siryn started a relationship). The series ended and Sunspot and Warlock returned to the New Mutants and Madrox eventually came back to Muir Isle.
The problem was that Lorna Dane, the mutant once known as Polaris, had ended up being transformed into a sort of vessel for the Shadow King to exert his influence over people. So when she ended up on Muir Isle, the Shadow King slowly turned all of the mutants there (which included a bunch of mutants sent there following the Mutant Massacre) evil, including Madrox. The original X-Men, then calling themselves X-Factor, teamed up with the then-current X-Men to free the enslaved mutants. When the dust had settled, X-Factor and X-Men decided to merge together to form one big X-Men team. A few of the mutants left on Muir Isle, though, who did not re-join the X-Men were offered a chance to take over the X-Factor name and become a government sponsored mutant strike force. Madrox was one of the mutants who agreed to join the team, which debuted in X-Factor #71 (by Peter David, Larry Stroman and Al Milgrom). However, no sooner had Madrox joined the team than another Madrox showed up and claimed to be the real Madrox!