Fox continues to expand its X-Men universe, with the latest development being James Franco’s rumored casting as Multiple Man. Star of pictures like 127 Hours and Pineapple Express, Franco is also no stranger to superhero movies thanks to his three-film arc as Harry Osborn/Green Goblin in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. As the 39-year-old prepares to suit up again, we’re going to take a look at his new hero. With a career across comic book and the silver screen, here’s what you need to know about Jamie Madrox, aka Multiple Man.
First appearing in 1975’s Giant-Size Fantastic Four #4, it doesn’t take a comic book expert to figure out that Madrox’s powers include the ability to replicate himself multiple times. Absorbing kinetic energy, he can duplicate himself and whatever is on him into an exact replica referred to as a “dupe.” Originally a minor character who had known Xavier since birth, Multiple Man became a more prominent mutant in the late ’80s thanks to the Fallen Angels miniseries and the Muir Island research plot. After originally declining X-Men membership, Madrox has become a great ally over the years, but it hasn’t stopped him operating in somewhat of a gray area morally.
That being said, it is mainly thanks to writer Peter David that we have the rounded version of Madrox fans enjoy today. Starting in the ’90s, David made Madrox a huge part of the rebooted X-Factor series – a decision he later said he regretted having to make. Despite this, David stuck with the character, giving Multiple Man his own MadroX miniseries in 2004 and incorporating him back into the 2005 era of X-Factor as the de facto lead.
As for the silver screen, Multiple Man has been largely relegated to the background in the past 17 years of mutant movies. He may have appeared in cartoon features X-Men: The Animated Series, X-Men: Evolution, and Wolverine and the X-Men, but his live-action form was saved until Brett Ratner’s maligned X-Men: The Last Stand in 2006.
Here, the character Multiple Man was portrayed by Grey’s Anatomy star Eric Dane, but was nothing more than a beefy bodyguard. Again in a supporting role, Madrox joined Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants due to his reputation of robbing seven banks at the same time. Dane’s performance was less-than-memorable, to say the least, while The Last Stand failed to give Madrox any form backstory. However, with The Last Stand butchering stories for the likes of Mystique, Angel, and Juggernaut, Multiple Man was the least of anyone’s worries in the grand scheme of things. Thankfully, Fox moving forward with a solo film means that the studio will have to delve back into the character’s 40 years of history.
With Franco usually known for his cheeky acting style as part of Seth Rogen’s Frat Pack, a Multiple Man movie will surely lean heavily on the star’s comedic presence. That being said, with a diverse history of roles and more serious performances in movies like Milk and In the Valley of Elah, can audiences also hope for a sympathetic version of Madrox too? Looking back at Spider-Man 3, Franco’s redemptive story as Osborn was one of the lackluster film’s better parts, and he is often praised in a largely praiseless outing for Raimi.
You only have to look at the number of movies Franco has starred in 2017 – and his busy slate for next year – to see that he is hot property in Tinsel Town. Just like Channing Tatum as Gambit, Fox’s decision to move forward on Franco’s Multiple Man will likely be a decision that splits superhero fandom down the middle, but when you think about Hugh Jackman’s 17-year stint as Wolverine, we already know that the studio can really get it right when it comes to casting their mutants if it really tries.
With Multiple Man heading for a union between Franco and X-Men stalwart Simon Kinberg, expect Madrox and his dupes to cause trouble for the ever-expanding world of the X-Men. Alongside X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Deadpool 2, New Mutants, X-Force, and the long awaited Gambit, Multiple Man‘s diverse offering is sure to be one of the first in several solo films for those mischievous mutants from the pages of Marvel.
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