It took a long time for it to get the greenlight from Twentieth Century Fox, but Deadpool is finally happening. Ryan Reynolds had the opportunity to play Wade Wilson a.k.a. Deadpool a.k.a. the "Merc with a Mouth" in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine but the fan-favorite character was terribly misused. When Wilson was on screen (before having his mouth sewn shut) however, Reynolds was a scene-stealer and it helped Fox commission a well-regarded Deadpool spinoff script by Zombieland writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Rheese.
Not long later, Tim Miller was attached to direct Deadpool with Reynolds in the title role. They even made conceptual test footage that we heard Deadpool co-creator Rob Liefeld brag about for ages, footage that leaked during Comic-Con this summer. Planned or not, the leak received praise from the industry and fans and undoubtedly helped convince Fox to finally pull the trigger on pushing the film into active development.
Deadpool is currently scheduled to hit theaters February 2016 and the character is expected to have a larger role to play after his solo outing in the X-Men movie universe. Even before the film got the greenlight, we had heard Deadpool was going to be one of the five main characters in Jeff Wadlow's X-Force script - another project Fox has been toying with for some time that sits without a release date. The last we heard on X-Force is that it was pushed aside when X-Men: Apocalypse became a reality, but we do know Fox currently has an untitled X-Men movie still sitting in 2018.
We also know from chatting with Fantastic Four and X-Men writer and producer Simon Kinberg recently that there's - according to him - still definitely room to fit X-Force in and that he does have ideas for a followup to Apocalypse as well, should he and director Bryan Singer get the chance to continue working in the series. So, while there's just one untitled X-Movie with a release date currently, Fox does have X-Force, another potential core X-Men series installment, and Gambit - the latter of which just got a writer and is set to star Channing Tatum. We bring all of these projects up to raise the question of where (and when) Cable, the son of X-Men leader Cyclops from the future, fits into Fox's X-Men movie plans...
Alongside Deadpool, Cable is also rumored to be on the X-Force roster and is one of the most important characters in X-Men comics yet to be introduced in the films. Like Deadpool and Gambit, Cable has been namedropped to be included in X-Men: Apocalypse, with younger versions of Nightcrawler, Cyclops, Jean Grey and Storm who may all join the returning First Class cast in the '80s-set movie. When chatting about also potentially including one of his personal favorite mutants, Psylocke, as well in X-Men: Apocalypse, Kinberg confirmed there were discussions previously to include Cable in X-Men: Days of Future Past but it never happened.
Since Days of Future Past was the first X-Men movie to play with the concept of time, and Cable is the franchise's most notable time-traveler, that would have been a logical entry point for the character but we have a pretty good feeling he'll get his due in X-Men: Apocalypse. If you ask Rob Liefeld (who also created Cable and X-Force), he'd tell you that Cable is probably on his way to cinemas in the near future. He hinted a year ago after reading the first draft of the X-Force screenplay that fans would be happy about the team dynamic, especially Deadpool and Cable fans. He also hinted that he could see Deadpool and X-Force hitting cinemas within six months of each other. That's not quite happening but X-Men: Apocalypse and Deadpool are certainly hitting just a few months apart, so some of what he's heard and shared is becoming a reality.
Liefeld's long teased what he learned from chatting with X-Men franchise producer Lauren Shuler Donner and executives at Fox where Deadpool and Cable came up, and this weekend while appearing on his own panel at Comikaze 2014, he shared a little more of that story, and how Cable and Deadpool were talking points long ago.
"Following Wolverine 2009, the Donners called me into their office and said, ‘Rob, we want to meet and talk to you about Deadpool, since we’re spinning it off. We know we made some missteps, and we want to get it right.’ So I sat there with a bunch of producers, and we sat for several hours, and we talked about different ideas. And I tried to steer them in directions I think. For instance, I’ll tell you, first question they said, ‘Rob, does Cable need to be in the Deadpool movie?’ And I said, ‘No, Deadpool deserves his own function and Cable should come in in his own movie.’ And they were like, ‘Ok, because we were thinking about…’ And I was like, ‘No, you can do them both separately. They don’t need to be in the same movie.’ Look, we had a long talk, we had some ideas, I can’t share them, some of them made it across the finish line."
As for Reynolds playing Wade Wilson...
"Ryan is Deadpool. Look, Ryan Reynolds, he’s gone through that same career arc, the guy is ridiculously talented. He has a huge, huge passion for Deadpool. Deadpool’s not happening, because he was a giant star, they said, ‘Ryan, what do you want to do?’ And he said, ‘Deadpool.’ That’s why it happened. They would have no faith otherwise. That movie is because of his passion. He put together the team."
But what about Cable? While telling his life story and how be broke into the comics industry, Liefeld mentioned how he jumped into the New Mutants series for Marvel and had the opportunity to create Cable, before excitedly sharing his desire to see Cable in the movies.
"Cable is awesome. And he will…when he appears on screen, we’re all going to nerdgasm, because he’s coming. They can’t hold him back. He’s coming."
With X-Men: Apocalypse introducing the X-Men's most dangerous villain, there are easy ways (from the comics) to make Cable a central figure in that story. He can come back from the future to help prevent Apocalypse from destroying the world as we know it. Even better, it can tie into characters we already met in the future scenes of Days of Future Past. Since Cable's father, Cyclops, may be re-introduced and recast with a younger actor, there are some very interesting character arcs that can be explored to finally give the Summers family some well-needed spotlight attention.
While all these character additions may raise concerns about an overcrowded cast, take a look and how big X-Men: Days of Future Past's mutant roster was and know that Apocalypse will be even "bigger."
It doesn't sound as if Deadpool will be a Cable and Deadpool buddy cop title, but it's hard to believe Fox won't take advantage of the release to tease time-traveler in some way, even if it's in a post-credits button that teases Cable's introduction from the future for X-Men: Apocalypse which hits theaters just a few months after. There are certainly some important story reasons for the quick greenlight and quick release date for Deadpool and its position as a release before X-Men: Apocalypse.
Is Cable a must for you in X-Men: Apocalypse?
Fantastic Four opens August 7th, 2015, Deadpool on February 12, 2016, X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016, The Wolverine 3 (not the official title) on March 3rd, 2017, Fantastic Four 2 on July 14th, 2017, and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13th, 2018.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.
Header from Cable #20 Covert Art by Dave Wilkins. Second image from X-Men: Messiah War art by Clayton Crain.