Cable is an interesting character in the X-Men universe. Created by a combo of Chris Claremont, Louise Simonson, and Rob Liefeld, Nathan Summers is the son of the famed X-Man Cyclops, and his backstory involves cloning, time travel, disease, and lots of guns. Eventually growing up to be the mercenary Cable, Nathan has all kinds of wild stories in his comic history, but unfortunately that doesn't mean all his narratives and character traits make sense.
It shouldn't be much of a surprise that Cable has some stuff about him that's just nonsense. After all, just look at the most basic facets of his character: he's a mutant cyborg from the future who can read your mind and make things move without touching them, only he can't do that all the time because of the cyborg thing so he usually just uses guns. You see what we mean? It's hard to talk about Cable without talking about stuff that is just plain confusing.
Cable recently made his film debut as portrayed by Josh Brolin in Deadpool 2, and fans had better be ready for much more of him since Brolin signed a multiple movie contract. Cable's going to stick around for some time, so here's a list of all that confusing stuff.
This is 20 Things That Make No Sense About Cable.
20 He keeps teaming up with Deadpool
At first glance, Cable doesn't seem to be much of a match for Deadpool. Deadpool is a mouthy, referential, chaotic character, as apt to blow something up in the name of money as he is in the name of good. Cable, on the other hand, is a man driven by duty and necessity, a soldier in the fight for mutants everywhere. Yet the two characters keep getting thrown together in team-up narratives, most recently in Deadpool 2. Writers clearly think the two are perfect foils for one another, which makes sense, but there isn't a ton of internal logic on Cable's part when it comes to why he keeps doing it.
You would think that Cable would have learned his lesson by this point.
He doesn't ever seem to really get along with Deadpool, he frequently takes issue with the way Deadpool handles missions, and he tends not to appreciate Deadpool's humor. So by now, you would think that Cable would have had enough of the Merc with a Mouth. At some point, a serious character like Cable just isn't going to be interested in Deadpool's wacky hijinks. It might make sense to the writers, but Cable wants to stop global threats like Apocalypse and the Silver Surfer, not be the butt of Deadpool's jokes. If they were being true to Cable's character, he would ditch Deadpool.
19 His time travel decisions
Wade Wilson says it himself in Deadpool 2: a lot of the film's plot is generated by what can only be described as "lazy writing." Deadpool says this specifically in reference to the limitations of Cable's time travel device. Cable explains it to the group, saying it only has two charges, and he only has one left. Cable used the device to travel to this point in time to stop the kid mutant Russell before he becomes the villain Firefist. However, he also explains that he couldn't travel to earlier in Russell's life (as opposed to right before he gets a taste for villainy) because the device is imprecise, not allowing for more specific destinations.
This is, obviously, nonsense created by the writers to give the time travel limits. These rules added to the time travel device are completely arbitrary, stated by Cable so fans will be invested in the story and not just think "wow, they could solve all these problems with time travel so easily." And then, after the writers go to such great lengths to make it clear Cable won't be using his time travel abilities, he uses it ... to save Deadpool. That's right, instead of going back to the future to be with his family, the whole reason he came to the past in the first place, Cable uses his last charge to save the life of a guy he just met.
18 The Techno-Organic Virus
In the heightened world of superheroes, just about every aspect of life has some kind of odd, superpowered counterpart. Diseases are no exception and Cable is afflicted with a particularly nasty one in the comics. Termed the Techno-Organic Virus, it actually grants its victims some special powers... before it proves to be fatal. The virus gives shapeshifting powers and the ability to interface with machines, but also consumes its victim's flesh and replaces it with machine parts, creating a hybrid of man and machine. Cable is only able to keep it at bay in the comics through the use of his telekinetic abilities. The virus itself was created by sentient machines,and it was given to Cable by Apocalypse himself. Honestly, it just gets more nonsensical from there.
And even if you can get past the inherently incredible nature of the virus itself, it seems that the writers of Deadpool 2 didn't do the same. The Techno-Organic Virus is not mentioned in the new film, though Cable does have his signature cyborg left arm. Cable's mutant abilities appear to be dampened across the board in the movie, as his psionic powers are limited to a few shields (and those might be generated with technology, not his powers). The only possible reference to the virus came when Cable quickly constructed a high-tech weapon out of everyday materials. Otherwise, they just left it out entirely.
17 He's not telepathic in the movie
Cable is supposed to be one of the more powerful mutants in the Marvel universe, but if you watched Deadpool 2, chances are you didn't come away with the same impression. Cable's mutant abilities are never even mentioned and the closest he comes to using them are the shields he occasionally summons to protect himself. You can explain away the absence of his telekinesis by pointing to him using it to keep his virus at bay (even if that is never actually stated), but there's no real reason why he wouldn't use his telepathic abilities over the course of the film. He doesn't use them at all, so we can only assume that he's not a telepath in this continuity.
We've already discussed how the film, and specifically Cable, falls prey to some lazy writing, but it's really strange to see them just ignore key aspects of Cable's character like this. A huge part of Nathan Summers' identity is his mutant abilities and it doesn't really make sense for the writers to create a story where they can't utilize them at all. Cable could probably have solved all kinds of conflicts in the movie if he'd been able to communicate telepathically, but we suppose we'll never know. Instead, we'll just have to hope that Cable rediscovers his abilities in the future films he does with the X-Force franchise.
16 His mutant abilities fluctuate wildly
In the comics, Cable is a telepath with bonus telekinetic powers, but he's rarely able to use them effectively. Since he's infected with the Techno-Organic Virus, Cable has to constantly use his mutant powers to keep the virus from spreading throughout his body. That's why, in most issues he appears, Cable sticks to using guns and other weapons in combat. Because of this, it took a while before the full extent of his abilities were known to fans and it's a dynamic a lot of writers have taken advantage of (which is what they'll possible do in future movies).
Cable's mutant powers go back and forth between almost non-existent to unimaginably powerful, seemingly in the space between consecutive issues.
It's hard for fans to enjoy a consistent characterization when this very basic facet keeps changing. In some issues, Cable has been cured of the virus and becomes the most powerful telepath in the world, and his telekinesis becomes strong enough to lift entire islands. In other issues, Cable has to rely on guns like a common soldier. Whether Cable is ridiculously powerful or basically just a skilled mercenary appears to be up to the whims of whatever writer is in charge of his storyline at any given time. It's extremely confusing for anyone who doesn't keep up with every new issue--exemplified by how he doesn't even seem to have powers in the film.
15 He needs help to fix his own time travel device
Let's run down the list. Cable is a cyborg thanks to the Techno-Organic Virus. Because of this, he can easily take apart and put together incredibly advanced machines. He is also from the future, and is used to extremely advanced technology. And yet you're telling us that this guy is completely unable to fix his own time travel device, the one thing that would allow him to return to the future to be with his family? And instead, two random teenagers from the X-Men can just waltz in and fix it like it was nothing? Sure, Deadpool 2 writers, sure.
Yet that's exactly what happens in the second Deadpool film, as Cable explains that he cannot fix his time travel device. He is literally shown in the movie to be able to construct complex machinery, but he draws the line at this one. But Negasonic Teenage Warhead and her girlfriend Yukio fix it in about twenty seconds of screen time, and then give it to Deadpool, not Cable. Once again: Negasonic Teenage Warhead, a young mutant from the present who has demonstrated no ability to fix complicated technology, can fix something that Cable, a cyborg from the future who has been shown to be good at fixing stuff like this, cannot.
14 The way his parents got together
Like most characters by writer and artist Rob Liefeld, Cable's backstory is both confusing and extremely strange. But the one thing that really sticks out is the way his parents got together. Cable is the son of Scott Summers (aka Cyclops) and Madelyne Prior (aka the Goblin Queen, yes that is really the name she picked for herself), and it wasn't even really their choice. Cyclops and Madelyne became a couple thanks to the meddling of Mr. Sinister, an enemy of Apocalypse. Mr. Sinister had discovered that a union between Cyclops and Jean Grey would create the perfect mutant, capable of stopping Apocalypse, and so after Jean Grey's passing, he created a clone and manipulated Cyclops into marrying her.
Even if you can get past the fact that Scott Summers married a woman essentially because she reminded him of his deceased ex (and you shouldn't, it's super weird), it's an incredibly contrived storyline. Madelyne was basically shoved aside by the writers so Cyclops could reunite with Jean Grey and the original X-Men lineup, and she became a supervillain called the Goblin Queen. Scott jets off, Madelyne was mostly forgotten by the writers, and their child, Nathan Charles Christopher Summers, was taken into the future to fight Apocalypse. All because Cyclops couldn't get over his lover's passing and married a lookalike.
13 His multiple clones
Cable, as we've already explained, was designed to be the perfect mutant by Mr. Sinister. He may have been held back by the Techno-Organic Virus, but it didn't take long for people to realize that his genes still held potential. Cable has more than one clone as a result and the really weird thing is they're very different from him. The most notable of these is of course Stryfe, Cable's notorious evil clone created by Apocalypse. Apocalypse intended Stryfe to be the future vessel for his own mind and raised him to be as cruel as possible. Stryfe ended up being a thorn in Cable's side for a long, long time.
On the other side of the spectrum was Nate Grey, a hero from an alternate universe who called himself X-Man. Nate was the product of the genetic material of Cyclops and Phoenix, and since Cable's mother is a clone of Jean Grey, it means Cable and Nate are genetically siblings. Plus, they were both created by Mr. Sinister. Nate turned out to be more of a conventional hero, a sharp contrast to Cable's more ruthless personality. It all just goes to show that nurture is more important than nature, but it's more than a little odd that none of Cable's genetic twins are particularly similar to him in spirit. Where did Cable's sense of duty and morals come from, if his clone went evil so easily?
12 His dad's ex had a crush on him
Relationships are tricky in superhero stories. First there's all the hardships of normal dating and then on top of that there's the chance that you might develop a crush on your ex-boyfriend's son from the future. This was the unfortunate fate of Lee Forrester, who fell in love with Scott Summers (aka Cyclops, the X-Man who might take the prize for strangest love life). Lee met Scott soon after he left the X-Men following the passing of Jean Grey, but before he married Madelyne Pryor because she looked like her. They fell in love on a fishing trawler, the most romantic of all locations, after they shipwrecked in the Bermuda Triangle.
Scott left Lee to rejoin the X-Men because she couldn't stand him getting into so much danger. She continued to live her life in Florida until the evil mutant Senyaka showed up to attack her boat. Luckily for her, Cable arrives and saves the day, and what follows is a three-issue adventure (Cable #12-14) that pits him against several different villains. His relationship develops with Lee along the way, culminating in a kiss. This relationship doesn't get any farther, however, as Lee realizes that she has the hots for the son of her previous boyfriend. Awkward.
11 He wasn't needed to stop Apocalypse
As we've previously stated, Cable was created to be Apocalypse's greatest enemy. Since Apocalypse is the most powerful mutant to ever live, this means Cable had a grand and extremely difficult destiny laid out for him. Mr. Sinister, one of Apocalypse's enduring foes, designed Cable to be able to fight Apocalypse on even terms, and much of Cable's storylines in the comics focus on him trying to stop En Sabah Nur. However, the film versions of the X-Men did not see a need for Cable in its take on the character. In the canon of the X-Men films, Apocalypse was found and vanquished in the past, well before Cable was even born.
Cable, meanwhile, had to have his origin changed to fit. Since Deadpool 2 couldn't introduce Cable as an opponent of Apocalypse, instead he travels to the past to defeat Firefist, a much less famous character.
This is a pretty serious downgrade and it makes Cable much less important to the overall X-Men continuity.
X-Men: Apocalypse came and went and Cable was nowhere to be found, and that continuity is unlikely to cross over with the Deadpool films in any meaningful way any time soon (excluding, of course, their brief cameo in the sequel). So, Cable, the film character, is pretty much robbed of his core purpose before he even gets started.
10 Cable broke the fourth wall
More than anything else, Deadpool is known as the superhero that knows he's in a comic book. Because of this, his signature move is turning to the reader and speaking directly to them. But that's not how it's always been, as Deadpool was (slightly) more serious in his early incarnations and while he did crack a joke every now and then, he didn't know he was fictional. And what's really strange is his old pal Cable actually beat him to the punch when it came to fourth wall breaking in their team-up series. Deadpool had broken the fourth wall in his own series before, specifically the ones written by Joe Kelly and Christopher Priest.
However, Cable beat him to the punch once. A cartoony Cable gave the reader a recap of previous issues in Cable and Deadpool #11 as you can see here. This Cable seems much more amiable than just about every other incarnation of the character and it's not a look that really fits the character. It's funny to see Cable essentially playing the role of Deadpool (Deadpool would go on to narrate his own recap pages in the exact same way), but we're glad it didn't turn into a recurring theme. We're fine with just one nonsensical recap page, instead of Cable turning into an angrier version of Deadpool.
9 His grand destiny
Cable had the fortune (or misfortune, depending on your viewpoint) of being created in an age of Marvel comics when the X-Men storylines were almost out of control. What this means for the character is that he has all kinds of weird legends and epithets attached to him that don't make much sense when seen from the outside looking in. One of these is the fact that Cable has been repeatedly named the savior of all mutants ... and he's not the only one to receive that title. While Clan Askani claimed that Cable was destined to be a savior, his own daughter has also been labeled as the mutant Messiah.
Cable was eventually referred to as a savior after stopping his own floating island from crashing to the Earth. The problem is that Cable created that island and it only began to fall because of a conflict he helped create with the governments of the world. It's hard to realistically think of him as a savior at that point. He has also been deified by the Askani as the Askani'son, but again, he's really just a normal mutant. His daughter Hope kicked off a similar conflict by being the first mutant born after the events of the House of M, which meant that people immediately called her the Messiah. Maybe don't just call random mutants the Messiah is the lesson here, we suppose.
8 What is his mutant level?
Mutant Power Levels, also known as biomutative classifications, were created to be able to clearly say which mutants were more powerful than others. First came the dregs, the gammas, the epsilon-betas, and the betas, all the less powerful mutants with abilities that weren't as noteworthy. Alpha level came next, the top of the line and the ones most fans paid attention to. That really should have been it because it was simple and made sense, but then Marvel writers began introducing Omega level mutants. What actually constitutes Omega level is still unclear, but it's basically just a byword for "very powerful."
Cable finds himself square in the middle of this confusion, because he seems to simultaneously be Alpha and Omega level. Described for years as an Alpha mutant, Cable's telepathic abilities have also listed him as an Omega. This is perhaps a byproduct of Cable's power levels being so inconsistent, but really it's the result of a confusing ranking system that even the writers don't seem to understand. They just keep trying to depict Cable as powerful, so they use a bunch of different words that don't all make sense when they get used together. Thus, Cable is somehow at two different power levels at once.
7 Superhero teams keep recruiting him
Cable is not the easiest guy to get along with. A low tolerance for foolishness, coupled with a ruthless belief that the ends justify the means and it's his way or the highway doesn't exactly scream "team player." One would think he'd be much better suited for solo titles, as he gives off more of a lone wolf vibe. And yet, time after time, writers put him on superhero teams instead of letting him work alone. The mercenary group Six Pack, the New Mutants, the militant X-Force, and the Uncanny Avengers have all boasted Cable as a member (and that's not even including team-up series like Cable and Deadpool), but he wasn't a good fit for all of them.
Cable started the Six Pack mercenary group and X-Force, the militant offshoot of the New Mutants. These were probably the best fit for him, since he's kind of an authoritarian leader and he was in control of them. The New Mutants were too idealistic for Cable to be a good fit and the Uncanny Avengers are, well, the Avengers. Cable is not known for being able to make friends easily, so at a certain point, you'd think writers would just give him another solo series instead of teaming him up with all these different heroes.
6 His age
It's gotta be the hair. Cable has always appeared to be somewhat older than your average costumed hero, but the problem here isn't that he looks old, it's that fans have never been totally sure exactly how old. Cable's hair has been white since his very first appearance, but the other facets of his appearance have changed from artist to artist. Some leaned into the character's depiction as an old man, giving him wrinkles galore, others make him appear to be an old man with an oddly youthful face (like the drawing above). This has left fans having to guess at his true age in the comics.
Some guess that Nathan Summers first showed up in the continuity at around 40 years of age, and has since aged to somewhere in his 60s.
Others think he started older, but hasn't aged as realistically as he perhaps should have. What really doesn't help in these fans' speculation is the fact that Cable has de-aged and re-aged multiple times in the comics. In his long comics history, Nathan has been cured of his virus, aged back to youth, burnt out because of his powers, aged at an accelerated rate, and occasionally even gone back to "normal," whatever age normal is. At this point, writers seem to be content to just leave it vague, as though Cable is just always middle aged forever.
5 His sister/mother
As we've already described, Nathan Summers' family is not the simplest to understand. But it turns out that Scott Summers marrying a clone of Jean Grey due to the machinations of Mr. Sinister is just the tip of the iceberg. Cable's story really gets going once he is taken in the future by Mother Askani, also known as Rachel Summers. As her last name should tell you, Rachel is another of Cyclops' children and her identity as Mother Askani came about after alternate versions of her were created. Sent to the future as the leader of the Askani Clan of mutants, she became the leader known as the Mother.
And it was actually Mother Askani who sent one of her subordinates back in time to rescue Nathan from Apocalypse. Sister Askani didn't arrive in time to stop Nathan from getting infected with the Techno-Organic Virus, but she did manage to spirit him away to the future to save his life. She also cloned him, creating the man who would become Stryfe, and brought Cyclops and Jean Grey's minds to the future as well, but let's not get into all that. Thus, Mother Askani ended up being a maternal figure to Cable, which is strange considering she's actually his sister.
4 The skee-ball token
Here we go with another plot point from Deadpool 2 that just doesn't make much sense. The skee-ball token is an important item in the film, as it represents Wade Wilson's love for his girlfriend Vanessa. Deadpool keeps it with him at all times, including when he fights Cable for the first time. However, he drops it and Cable picks it up, saying he'll keep it as a souvenir. This makes no sense at all. Nathan Summers is not a sentimental person and he has absolutely no reason to pick up a random token ... except for extremely contrived plot purposes, of course.
See, Cable needs to have that token in his possession so he can later plant it on Deadpool to save his life. In yet another sequence that just doesn't make sense, Cable places the token directly over Deadpool's heart, so it'll stop Cable's eventual bullet from hitting him. This should not work, as it would be nearly impossible to Cable to remember exactly where his bullet was going to go and even less likely that the token wouldn't move out of place during all the fighting Deadpool does soon after. All in all, Cable's entire interaction with the token is just nonsense and one of the larger plot holes in the film.
3 The Burnt Offering
We've told you that Cable was supposed to be a savior to the world. It's supposed to be his destiny, his purpose in life. But pretty much the only time he's actually been called that by someone other than Mother Askani came in The Burnt Offering, a storyline that found Cable creating a new floating island over the Pacific Ocean. Calling it Providence, Cable proclaimed it a sovereign nation and a new world power, open to any who arrived. However, world leaders were understandably cautious, not liking the idea of the militant Cable starting a new floating country.
Cable only did all this because he had regained full control of his mutant powers, but they were burning him out. He thought this would be a good use of his final days, for some reason. It doesn't go all that well, as Cable is beset by all kinds of threats (he even has to fight the Silver Surfer at one point) and eventually the island falls down. Cable lowers it into the ocean gently so no one is hurt, which is what earns him the title "savior." This doesn't make any sense, as he's the one who put the island up there to begin with. The whole plan ends with Providence over before it had begun and Cable passed away (though not for long), so maybe it wasn't a great plan!
2 His relationship with Domino
Like we said before, superhero relationships are tricky and if you thought it was hard when you just had the time-traveling sons of your ex-boyfriend to worry about, just wait until shapeshifters are added to the mix. Cable and Domino go way back, as hers was one of the first names to come up when Cable was putting together X-Force, the more militant branch of the X-Men. Domino's mutant ability allows her to manipulate probability fields, which makes her super lucky, a useful trait for a mercenary. It wasn't long before Cable and Domino struck up a romantic relationship.
Leaving aside the (possible) age difference between the two, it was still ill-advised for the two to start a romance, since things don't usually go so well when two X-Men get together.
Case in point: the Domino that initially joined up with X-Force is eventually revealed to be an impostor, as the shapeshifter Copycat sent to spy on the team. That's a shocking twist for the team, but it's also pretty awkward when you consider Cable and Domino's relationship. You're telling us that Cable, who later fell in love with Domino, couldn't tell when someone else was pretending to be her? Cable's must not be as smart as writers say he is or he must not love Domino as much as he should. Either way, it doesn't make sense.
1 He's Thanos
One of the cardinal rules of marketing a movie is selling the ways it's different and unique. One way to accomplish that is by hyping up the cast in their respective roles, but Deadpool 2 didn't really have that option, thanks to the actor they cast as Cable. Fans were probably a little confused to see Josh Brolin, known now to the world as the Avengers' ultimate foe Thanos, as Cable, the antihero of Deadpool 2, less than a month after the first film debuted. It's a risky casting decision to say the least and the world definitely connects Brolin more to Thanos than Cable.
Look, we're not saying Josh Brolin was miscast as Cable or as Thanos. But it is a little weird that the producers of Deadpool 2 would choose to cast a villain with an actor who's better known for portraying another, more famous comic book villain. And while it may have seemed like the world of Deadpool 2 was removed enough from the more family-friendly, serious tone of Avengers: Infinity War, the real problem here is that the characters themselves are a little too similar. Thanos is an immensely powerful villain who does what he believes is necessary and rarely smiles, and Cable is ... an immensely powerful soldier who does whatever is necessary and rarely smiles. At some point, you've got to wonder why the producers cast the same guy.
Which of these is worst to you? Let us know in the comments!