Although the odds seemed long, Deadpool was the box office hit few dreamed he could be. And for the sequel, things are getting even bigger – literally. It took no time at all for fans and the filmmakers to address the idea that the Merc With a Mouth would have it forcibly shut on film as he had in the comics, by pairing with the metal-armed, glowing-eyed, hulking time traveler known as Cable. In the film’s post-credits scene, it wasn’t teased, hinted at, or suggested: Cable would appear in Deadpool 2, even if the story or actor had yet to be found.
Many of the fans in the audience knew all there was to know about Cable when the announcement dropped, while others simply remembered the X-Man’s image (it’s hard to forget). But as the writers get to work on tailoring the live-action Cable to the actor landing the coveted role, they’re also giving a warning: their Cable will be faithful to the comics… but it won’t include every story beat. Admitting that Cable’s backstory is “convoluted” to say the least, not every piece of it will be covered for obvious reasons.
Since there’s a chance fans will never get to see the strangest story beats adapted to screen, and in the interest of preparing fans for such omissions or changes, we’re breaking down the most obvious offenders which, while entertaining, would be likely to cause more problems in the end.
The Son of Cyclops & Jean Grey…’s Clone
The chapter of X-Men history that surrounded the birth of Cable – true name: Nathan Christopher Charles Summers – is one of the most complicated and, in hindsight, weirdly uncomfortable. It begins with the famous “Dark Phoenix Saga” surrounding Jean Grey, but soon unravels into a complex web – which we’ll do our best to keep straight. Put simply, the story began as the master plan of Mr. Sinister (a villain teased in the post-credits scene of X-Men: Apocalypse) upon realizing that if Scott Summers/Cyclops and Jean Grey/Marvel Girl were to produce a child, that offspring would be blessed with incredible mutant abilities. Thus, he set about making it happen.
Since Jean Grey couldn’t be openly encouraged to begin the coupling, he did the next best thing for a comic book baddie: he cloned her. The clone, named Madelyne Pryor was brought to life by a portion of the Phoenix Force linked with Jean that fled to Madelyne at the moment of Jean’s death. Combined, it was the perfect opening: Scott set his eyes on the clone and was smitten, Nathan was born, and things only got weirder. Remember the Phoenix Force-empowered Jean? That wasn’t the real Jean. When the real Jean returned, Scott dropped Madelyne like a bad habit, she became a supervillain trying to open a portal to Hell by sacrificing Nathan, was defeated, and Jean and Scott raised Nathan like normal.
In hindsight, the entire debacle reads as a series of interesting ideas stacked atop one another until moves were made to basically put the entire mess behind the X-Men. Nevertheless, it’s the storyline that actually created Nathan Summers – so for some, would be a “faithful” origin for the film. But all can see how it’s an unnecessarily complicated and convoluted one, especially since the outcome could have been reached by Scott and Jean simply having a child. If we were putting money on it, that’s the path the film will take, perhaps with a throwaway line describing Cable as the son of Cyclops and Phoenix – “…basically.”
The Apocalypse Connection
We’re not eager to apply even more criticism towards the movie version of Apocalypse a.k.a. En Sabah Nur put forward by director Bryan Singer, since it’s almost impossible to live up to the legacy of all-powerful comic book villains. Also, it’s the timeline trouble that Cable’s connection to Apocalypse would pose to the story we’re focused on, not how eager (or not) Deadpool 2 or Fox would be to bring up a film and villain that under-performed. To keep things simple: Cable was created specifically to kill Apocalypse.
It was the conclusion of Mr. Sinister’s plan, deducing that the child of Scott Summers and Jean Grey would be powerful enough to kill the ‘First Mutant.’ When Nathan was still an infant, that plan made its way to Apocalypse himself, who sent his forces to capture the child, and bring it to him so that he could infect it with a techno-organic virus that would eat through him, turning his flesh to metal and killing him in the process. It was at this point that the first dose of time travel enters the story of Nathan Summer (if you don’t include the fact that Cable had, at this point, returned from the future to lead the New Mutants), when a strange visitor from the future claimed to be a fried – and have the means to save Nathan in the future.
Knowing that they had no other choice, Scott and Jean agreed, entrusting the woman – named Sister Askani – with young Nathan, and saying goodbye for what could be the last time. That concludes the ‘present’ chapter of Nathan’s young life, but also raises some red flags for the shared X-Men Universe. For starters, the movie showed that Apocalypse wasn’t active over the millennia leading to the present day of the timeline, and ended with the X-Men reducing him to ash. As a result, it doesn’t make sense for Nathan to be born for that purpose, or receive his half-techo-organic side as a result of meddling Apocalypse couldn’t have done himself.
We suppose the movie version could flat out reveal that Apocalypse returns, undercutting the film’s message so soon. But it’s perhaps most likely for the actual source of his virus to be ignored, focusing instead on the telekinetic and psychic power it takes for Cable to confine the spread to his arm and eyeball.
Who Took Him To The Future?
As you probably noticed in the above section, the mysterious figure that suddenly, and without explanation arrives to rescue Nathan from his virus seems like a major question to be answered. In the comics, it is: Sister Askani is a servant of Mother Askani, who in reality is Rachel Summers, the daughter of Scott and Jean… from an alternate timeline. It’s not actually as complicated as it sounds: in the alternate timeline where Jean merged with the Phoenix Force, instead of being replaced by it, she lived a happier life that led to her and Scott having a daughter, Rachel. Unfortunately for Rachel, the world she grew up into was the same nightmarish one seen in Days of Future Past.
Rachel survived as one of the last remaining mutants in the world until she was captured, rebeled, and… we’ll just say “thanks to comic book logic,” wound up flung back into the past. At that time, she had yet to be born, and embraced her new life as a member of the X-Men alongside her mother and father (at least in one possible future). But when that timeline turned out not to be her own, she formed a psychic link with the young Nathan, before her adventures took her once more through the fabric of space and time.
Rachel eventually sacrificed herself for a friend, tossing her almost two thousands years into the future. In this bleak world, Apocalypse had once again dominated creation (he did that in a lot of possible futures). It didn’t take long for Rachel to realize that the answer to her problems was still a baby, two millennia in the past. Establishing herself as the leader Mother Askani, Rachel sent followers into the past to retrieve Nathan, so that he could defeat Apocalypse in the future – and the rest is history.
As important as that story actually is, and is pretty pivotal in removing Nathan from the current timeline, it only raises more questions about an X-Men movie timeline that already frustrates fans. In other words: don’t expect a cameo from Rachel Summers.
His Greatest Enemy Was His Own Clone
The plan to retrieve and save Nathan worked perfectly, but Rachel couldn’t be sure that Nathan could survive the virus coursing through his body. To hedge her bets on this future Messiah, she had Nathan Summers cloned. When the child actually did keep the virus at bay, the clone was redundant. But at that moment, Apocalypse’s forces attacked, confusing the clone for the child he had infected thousands of years ago. Instead of killing the boy, Apocalypse recognized the mutant abilities he would one day possess, and chose to raise him as a son.
Apocalypse never admitted it, but his intention was always to groom and grow the boy – whom he named Stryfe – into a mutant for him to possess as his next form. That plan went wrong when Nathan attacked during the process (with some help), destroying Apocalypse mid-transfer, and giving Stryfe yet another reason to hate this enemy who shared his face and powers. The two grew to adulthood leading their opposing forces until Stryfe killed Nathan’s wife and fled back to the 20th Century, with Nathan in hot pursuit – beginning the modern storyline that first introduced ‘Cable’ leading the New Mutants against the villainous Stryfe and his Mutant Liberation Front.
It may work as a complete loop for comics book fans who have years to make sense of it, but since it’s Cable’s original reason for returning to the modern day from the future, it would be problematic for it to start his movie story, too. Unless Deadpool and he are teaming up to take down Stryfe – his clone from the future – expect to see the whole story replaced with a new justification that’s a bit easier to get across in a scene or two.
His Time-Hopping Adventures in Babysitting
The storyline that arguably cemented Cable’s role in the Marvel Universe came some time later, following the events of “M-Day,” in which Scarlet Witch reduced the mutant population of Earth by 90% in the blink of an eye. With mutants on the brink of extinction, the first naturally born mutant since the event became the species’ last hope. And, obviously, there were those who wanted to kill her before she ever left her cradle. The decision of what to do fell to Cyclops who, unsurprisingly, felt mutantkind’s future was safest in the hand is his time-traveling son.
Giving the unnamed girl to Cable, the pair jumped into the unknown future to lose those in pursuit – chiefly the former X-Man Bishop, who believed that the child was the mutant who would wipe out a million humans, turning mankind against them and creating the horrific future he had come from. The Cable series that followed saw Cable and the baby leaping forward through time, Bishop hot on their heels. New wives, murdered friends, and countless strange adventures followed, with the girl eventually being named ‘Hope,’ and exhibiting signs of just how powerful a mutant she could truly be.
The young Messiah would lead to the “Messiah CompleX,” the “Messiah War,” and the image of the ruthless soldier Cable as a doting babysitter was forever immortalized in the minds of fans. Unfortunately, the version we’re bound to see on screen will have to be reduced significantly, especially if Deadpool 2 isn’t trying directly into Logan, which will be driving at the same kind of imagery and desperation.
After the success of Deadpool in both remaining faithful to the spirit of the comics, and using shortcuts or simplifications to streamline a story spread over decades of comic books, we’re confident the same will be done with Cable. Fans will be hungry for details on specific changes, retcons, or updates along the way, but if these are the top priorities for the writers, we’ll forgive them for making some edits.