As longtime comic readers are well aware, there is no shortage of beloved X-Men runs that hold serious potential as Hollywood adaptations. Known for its sweeping event series and crossovers, the Marvel Comics franchise has seen its fair share of well-regarded storylines over the decades, many of which are ripe for reimagining as live-action tales.
One seminal run that’s perhaps talked about too little is the work of writer Peter David on “X-Factor.” A quirky, character-focused take on Marvel’s mighty mutants, “X-Factor” put the spotlight on a handful of fringe X-Men characters who — over the course of his second run, which began in 2005 — operated out of a detective agency and specialized in dealing with oddball mutant cases.
Spanning 150 issues, David’s “X-Factor” reimagined forgotten (or less-than-A-list) mutants, transforming them into fan-favorite characters with the help of a who’s who of artists including Joe Quesada, Larry Stroman and more, as he navigated their interpersonal relationships and conflicting personalities. A noir-focused take on the X-Men franchise, “X-Factor” was an unexpected success, cementing its own strange corner of the X-Universe that looked way different from the super-heroics in the other X-Men titles.
With Fox apparently reconsidering the future of its X-Men adaptations going forward in the wake of the departure of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and Patrick Stewart’s Professor X from the franchise, “X-Factor” would be the perfect approach for the franchise as it continues its expansion to the small screen. Rather than a film, David’s “X-Factor” needs to be adapted as an episodic TV series, and it needs to retain the adult-oriented edge it had in the comics — even if it would likely have to undergo a title change in order to get around Simon Cowell’s talent show franchise that stole (ok, not really) the comic’s name.
“X-Factor” was special for its unusually noir take on the X-Men franchise, which blended beautifully with the detective agency premise of the series. Introducing an edgy series like “X-Factor” to the televisions mix would allow Fox to show a different, stylistic angle of the X-Men, much in the way “Legion” has brought a David Lynchian vibe to the franchisee. Built to function as a case-of-the-week format while developing over-arching storylines, “X-Factor” would be the perfect place for tackling relevant social issues through the lens of the mutant struggle, much in the way that Chris Claremont’s “X-Men” did in its heyday.
The heart of “X-Factor” is its leader, Jamie Madrox — A.K.A., Multiple Man. With the ability to create duplicates (or “dupes) of himself on command, Madrox gets himself into quite a bit of trouble when his various doppelgängers decide to go off and live their own lives, often resulting in terrible decisions and the need for plenty of cleanup on the part of “X-Factor.”
A bulk of the “X-Factor” comics deal with the repercussions of Jamie’s reckless dupes, the perfect plot device to watch unfold across a season, or seasons. Add to that Madrox’s personality, which is essentially that of a comedian that finds amusement in himself and others any way he can to distract from the loneliness at his core, and you’ve got one heck of a lead on your hands. Charming, yet broken, Madrox is the perfect hero for modern audiences.
As a detective agency, “X-Factor” primarily deals with strange cases involving mutants, offering plenty of opportunities to bring fresh faces to the live-action X-Men universe. They don’t have to be existing mutants, either — in one of the first “X-Factor” storylines, the team deals with an infidelity case that involves a wheelchair-bound mutant cheating on their spouse through astral projection. These kinds of offbeat stories would make for great one-off episodes, offering plenty of material for comedy and conflict.
Of course, there are slews of recognizable mutants who operated alongside “X-Factor” that deserve the spotlight should the franchise make it to the small-screen. Quicksilver has long been associated with the team — both as a member, and as an annoyance on the side — which really makes us want to see Evan Peters reprise his fan-favorite role on the small screen, for example.
“X-Factor’s” team members deal with real, human issues that have a lot of potential to be explored on a mature TV series. Team member Siryn — the daughter of fan-favorite Irish X-Man Banshee — struggles with alcoholism, while fellow teammate Polaris (who will be a cast member on the upcoming live-action X-Men series on Fox) deals with bipolar disorder. Introducing these characters and their struggles to the small-screen would add a fresh dimension to the X-Men franchise. Add to that the romance of Rictor and Shatterstar, and there’s potential for the first LGBT romance in the X-Men film/TV franchise.
After so many X-Men films that have repeated a similar tone, we’ve finally been treated to movies like “Logan” and “Deadpool” that amp up the violence and mature themes of the series. It’s clear that the majority of the franchise’s audience have grown up with the franchise, so they’re willing, and wanting, to accept a bolder take on Marvel’s mutants. We think “X-Factor” is the perfect way to build on the R-rated success of “Logan” and “Deadpool,” while expanding the X-Men’s small-screen universe all at the same time — even if it needs to be given an all-new, all-different title.
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