Sometimes, things happen fast in the Geek-O-Sphere. This past week, website Bleeding Cool reported that an X-Force movie might be happening due to certain domain names being registered by Twentieth Century Fox. No sooner was that reported than within a day, X-Force creator Rob Liefeld went on his Twitter account and seemingly confirmed the news. Finally,The Hollywood Reporter made it official; Fox is working on a big screen X-Force spin-off of their X-Men franchise, and Kick Ass 2 director Jeff Wadlow is set to write and maybe direct. Man, That was fast.
X-Force is an interesting property to spin-off from the X-Men, because unlike the X-Men, there is not any one iconic line-up to the team, really. Ask any X-Men fan which characters simply NEED to be in the movie series, and you’ll get a good dozen answers. There have been tons of incarnations of X-Force over the past twenty-one years, sometimes with very little tying them all together. And sometimes the team becomes the home of various C-list mutants that the proper X-Men books don’t want anymore. For example, remember Feral, the cat-like member of the team so prominently displayed on the cover of the original X-Force #1? The comic that sold five million copies?? Where is she now? While the characters of X-Force might come and go, with some notable exceptions, the main idea of the team mostly remains – a more militant group of mutants who are willing to do whatever needs to be done to preserve their race from extinction.
Seriously though….what happened to Feral??
So with that in mind, here are ten characters from the history of the X-Force comic book series that have a real shot at making it to movie stardom.
A good ol’ boy from Kentucky, Samuel Guthrie was a founding member of the first ever X-Men spin-off team The New Mutants, and when the New Mutants title morphed into X-Force in 1991, he was the only founding member of the original team to make the transition. He stuck around as a member of X-Force for a long time during the ’90s, before finally becoming a member of the X-Men proper. He hasn’t really been associated with any X-Force team for a long time now – over a decade, I’d say – but he’s still probably one of their more iconic team members.
The one problem with Sam making the transition to live action is his powers: he can summon up a bunch of kinetic energy and propel himself through the air like a giant cannonball, hence the name. It would be tough to not make that look a wee bit silly on film, which is probably why we haven’t seen even a cameo of Sam Guthrie in any of the X-Men movies thus far. Still, his status as a long-standing member of the team means he at least has a shot at the big time if the X-Force movie ever comes to fruition.
Although her association with X-Force has been relatively brief overall, I think that Scottish mutant Rahne Sinclair has a decent shot at getting into an X-Force movie. First off, her powers are simple and easy to understand: She’s a werewolf. She might not be a supernatural werewolf, but she’s a werewolf all the same, and that’s a concept everyone is familiar with and doesn’t take a lot of explaining for the casual moviegoer. She also has X-Person Rogue beat on the self-loathing front, as she thinks there is something evil about her being a mutant due to her strict religious upbringing, something that the filmmakers could have a fun time playing with. As far as members of the comic book team go, I think Wolfsbane has a much better shot at big screen success than the likes of Feral, Rictor, or Boom Boom.
One of the few characters from back in the early Rob Liefeld days of X-Force who has been a fixture in most incarnations of the team is James Proudstar, better known as Warpath. An Apache Native American, Proudstar possesses mutant superhuman strength and speed, identical to his his older brother John, who was the X-Man Thunderbird, an X-Man mostly famous for being the first member of the team to die in the line of duty. While James’ powers are similar to his late brother’s, his actual power levels are much higher. Although he originally hated Charles Xavier and blamed him for his brother’s death, he eventually came around and joined his cause.
As a member of both the original Liefeld ’90s version of the team, as well as the later “black ops” X-Force team of more recent years, Warpath makes a ton of sense to make it to a big screen incarnation of the team. Add to that the fact that Twilight’s Boo Boo Stewart (yes, someone’s real name is Boo Boo) is in the upcoming Days of Future Past as Warpath, this only leads me to believe even more that he’s being set up for a larger appearance in a future X-Force movie.
Now here is a character that might make it into the team simply for the fact that she makes for a cool visual, and would look hot on one of those character one-sheet posters you find on bus stops. I’m pretty much convinced the only reason the character as any popularity at all is because a hot albino woman with a black dalmatian circle around her eye toting a gun (usually in an overly erotic pose) is just too sexy an image for young teenage boys to resist. With all that in her favor, who cares what your personality and powers are? But yes, she actually does have powers; along with her mutant abilities. In addition to her excellent marksmanship and hand-to-hand combat training, she also possesses “probability altering powers”, kind of like former X-Man Longshot, but nowhere near as powerful as Magneto’s daughter the Scarlet Witch.
Spending most of her life as a mercenary, she came into contact with Cable, becoming his partner and occasional lover as well. While not the most compelling character in Marvel Mutant history, she has a long history with the team (she is currently a member of Cable’s X-Force team) and Twentieth Century Fox might not be able to resist getting a hot actress, putting her in a tight leather cat suit and making her an albino mutant just as a way of selling the movie if nothing else.
I think the X-Force movie might finally see big mutant bad Apocalypse make his long awaited big-screen debut. Not as a member of the team, obviously, but as their movie’s primary antagonist. Although Apocalypse was originally a villain in the pages of X-Factor (back when they were the five original X-Men reunited) he has since gone on to become one of the entire X-Men universe’s biggest baddies, right behind Magneto and Mr. Sinister, although ahead of them when it comes to actual power levels. Apocalypse’s real name is En-Sabah-Nur, and he believes himself to be the very first mutant, who manifested his powers over 5,000 years ago in ancient Egypt. A strict believer in “survival of the fittest”, he thinks the weak should all die, therefore letting the strong inherit the Earth. Unlike Magneto, for example, he doesn’t care if the weak are mutants or humans; in his mind, all weaker beings must be disposed of to let the strong survive. Apocalypse has strong ties to Cable, as he was the absolute ruler of the Earth in the future that Cable is from, and is the reason why Cable was sent back to the present day to stop him from achieving his rise to power. For these reasons above all others, I think Apocalypse will make his movie debut in an X-Force movie.
One of the storytelling tragedies of X-Men The Last Stand is Warren Worthington III, better known as the Angel. Introduced in a pre-credits flashback sequence as a young boy, it is implied he will play an important role in The Last Stand story, but aside from showing his rockin’ body in one scene and then having him flying away, Angel has jack squat to do in that movie. This is an incredible shame, because Warren is not only a founding member of the X-Men, but he was played by the 3:10 to Yuma’s Ben Foster, a complete waste of a talented actor and a waste of an iconic X-Man. Hopefully, the possible addition of Archangel to X-Force might be the perfect time to right the wrongs of X-Men: The Last Stand. Actress Ellen Page was Kitty Pryde in The Last Stand, and although she was perfect casting, she wasn’t given much to do. From the looks of it, director Bryan Singer is trying to make lemonade out of lemons, and has Page returning for Days of Future Past, presumably with more to do this time. Couldn’t the same be done for Ben Foster in an X-Force movie?
Like many characters in the late ’80s and early ’90s, Angel was given a “grim n’ gritty” makeover. Abducted by the ancient mutant Apocalypse, his wings were clipped and replaced with organic metal wings, with razor sharp feathers he could fire as projectiles. His entire look was redesigned by artist Walter Simonson, and suddenly the original X-Men who no one really cared about all that much before was a fan favorite. His status as Archangel came and went over the years – sometimes he had the classic feather wings, other times the metal wings would come back, and sometimes he could even switch them back and forth. It was during his one of his stints as the metal winged Archangel that Warren was a member of X-Force (when the book was called Uncanny X-Force) and the story many fans consider the definitive Angel story took place in its pages, The Dark Angel Saga.
If an X-Force movie uses Cable as a lead character, then it is likely that Apocalypse would finally make his movie debut and be the villain as well. If Apocalypse is around, shouldn’t Angel be a part of the package as well? It would provide the perfect opportunity to do so. Whether or not Ben Foster returns, I think Archangel has a real shot of being in an X-Force film.
Poor, poor Deadpool. Despite his intense popularity with comic book fanboys, the character has had a rough go of it on the big screen. Wade Wilson, “the merc with the mouth,” is known mostly for his sense of humor, so what did Fox do when they introduced the character in the abysmal X-Men Origins: Wolverine? They sealed his mouth shut for most of it so he couldn’t talk, much less crack jokes. All this despite getting Ryan Reynolds to play the part, an actor known for being funny more than anything else.
There has been talk now for years about a Deadpool spin-off film starring Reynolds that would hue closer to the comics, and in fact Zombieland screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick have written a fairly raunchy screenplay for a Deadpool movie that has since leaked online to pretty good feedback. But Fox is super hesitant to release an R-rated comic book movie, especially one tied to their very lucrative X-Men franchise. And they might wonder if mainstream audiences will even care to see a spin-off for a character introduced in that crappy 2009 Wolverine flick.
So maybe the solution is to re-introduce him in an X-Force movie? The character of Deadpool has a long association with the franchise, as he first appeared in New Mutants #98, right as the title was about to shift into becoming X-Force. Not only that, but he was a member of Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, arguably the most popular version of the team in recent memory. If this version of Deadpool is closer to the comics version, and an X-Force movie proves popular, then maybe Fox will get over their cold feet and greenlight that Deadpool movie they’ve been talking about for ages.
Of course, the real question is, where does Ryan Reynolds fit into all this? Apparently, he only did the cameo in X-Men Origins: Wolverine on the promise from Fox he would get his own Deadpool movie, and that never materialized. Would he be down to play Deadpool again in an ensemble movie, possibly playing second fiddle to Hugh Jackman all over again? If he’s smart, he will. The simple fact is this: Ryan Reynolds is just not a box office star. I’m not sure why, because he’s handsome, likable and funny. But it’s just never happened for him. He’s had one genuine box office hit, The Proposal, which can be chalked up to his co-star Sandra Bullock more than anything. We all know how Green Lantern and The Change-Up performed. The upcoming RIPD doesn’t look to be helping things much there either. So Mr. Reynolds should check his ego at the door and play Deadpool in an X-Force movie if it is offered to him, because otherwise they will simply re-cast him, and if a new version proves popular, then that guy is getting the Deadpool movie, and not him. Play this one smart, Ryan Reynolds.
Psylocke is easily one of the most popular and iconic members of the X-Men not to make it yet into a live-action feature film. Yes, I know that an actress who made a cameo appearance in X-Men: The Last Stand named Meiling Melan?on was credited as Psylocke, but she’s never called by name in that in the movie, and doesn’t do anything remotely like the character, so let’s just agree to not count her, ok? She wasn’t even originally intended to be Psylocke in the movie anyway, as screenwriter Zak Penn said “There was some switching of character names later in production, and I’m not exactly sure how Psylocke got thrown into the mix.” So we’ll just call it a mistake.
In the comics, Psylocke has been a member of the team since the mid ’80s, when she debuted as a sweet natured British girl with telepathic powers, purple hair and a wispy lavender blouse. In the early ’90s, she got an extreme makeover, and while her hair was still purple she was now Asian (don’t ask) and was a bad ass ninja warrior. This is the version that was popularized by Jim Lee during his iconic run on X-Men in the early ’90s, and this is the version of the character that has stuck around the longest. Betsy Braddock was a member of Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force team, as well as the current team by writer Sam Humphries.
An X-Force movie would be the perfect opportunity to bring to life this iconic mutant heroine. The previous X-Men movies were loaded with psychics like Charles Xavier and Jean Grey, which is why Betsy was never under serious consideration. But with those two highly unlikely to be a part of any X-Force movie, now might be the time to finally bring in Psylocke.
Normally, I would place Hugh Jackman as Wolverine as the number one choice as a sure thing on any X-Men movie list, but there is some reason to be iffy on if Wolverine will even appear this time.There are factors for and against Logan showing up in an X-Force flick, so I’d say it is almost a 50/50 proposition at this point. Let’s weight the pros and cons here a bit:
CON: Although a team going by the name X-Force has been around since 1991, Wolverine wasn’t a member of an X-Force team until the book’s reboot in 2008 under writer Craig Kyle. He’s not necessarily seen as an essential part of what makes X-Force X-Force.
PRO: The two runs of X-Force he was a part of are among the book’s most popular with fans. That helps a lot.
PRO: Hugh Jackman is, quite simply, the poster boy of the X-Men movie franchise; he seems to genuinely love playing the character, and is smart to recognize it as his only reliable cash cow. His other franchise starter Van Helsing didn’t fare so well, and let’s not even talk about the movie Australia. Outside of the X-Men franchise, he doesn’t have a reliable money maker series to his name.
CON: However, by the time we get to X-Force, Jackman will have played the character six times (seven, if you count his classic cameo in X-Men: First Class) and just may be ready to hang up the claws finally after Days of Future Past. Whether or not Jackman returns as Wolverine, one thing is for sure – Twentieth Century Fox is at least going to ask him.
If there is one character that could be considered iconic who is unique to X-Force, the answer can only be Cable. Originally introduced towards the end of the original run of New Mutants, Cable was a stereotypical, hardened old military war-horse type of guy, who took over the remainder of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters and whipped those whiny kids into the paramilitary unit called X-Force. Cable was originally not much more than a collection of ’90s comic book stereotypes, although it could be argued that he at least created those stereotypes in the first place.
Cable Creator Rob Liefeld only really wrote the first handful of his appearances before he took off to form Image Comics. Subsequent writers fleshed out the Cable back story over the years, and it was revealed that Cable was really Nathan Summers, the son of Cyclops and his first wife Madelyne Pryor, herself a clone of Jean Grey. Nathan inherited his mother’s telekinetic powers, and as a baby he was infected with a techno-organic virus by the villain Apocalypse. He was sent to the far future where he was saved from the virus, and honed his tk abilities to halt the spread of the virus to the rest of his body, except for his arm which was consumed by the virus and remained metal. Trained for combat in his dystopian future, he is sent back to our time to prevent that future, a world under the boot of the ancient mutant Apocalypse, from happening in the first place. And what I just wrote there is the Reader’s Digest version of Cable’s history. The man is convoluted continuity personified.
It is safe to say that for his big screen debut, his origin will have to be streamlined, probably to the point where only his physical appearance and maybe his basic personality traits remains from the comics. They may even remove all references to his parents Scott Summers and Jean Grey, But with time travel being introduced to the X-Men movie universe with Days of Future Past, the notion of Cable as a time-traveler will probably remain intact. But the character of Cable epitomizes X-Force, and without him there will be a lot of angry fanboys. Oh, and one last thing….if the casting director for X-Force doesn’t cast Avatar actor Stephen Lang as Cable, they should be fired. Stephen Lang was as born to play Cable as Patrick Stewart was born to play Charles Xavier. It is meant to be.
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