With the current buzz around what will (probably) be Hugh Jackman's final Wolverine movie, Logan, it seems as though Fox may have finally figured out a winning formula for their X-Men movies. After fifteen years of ensemble films, most of which received a thoroughly lackluster fan response, last year’s Deadpool catapulted the mutant heroes back into the limelight. With its irreverent approach to brutal violence (and Ryan Reynold’s inspired portrayal of the title character), Deadpool was the smash hit of the year, and more than made up for the disappointing X-Men: Apocalypse that came out a few months later.
Now, the upcoming R-rated Logan looks like it could be the hit of 2017, and the darkly trippy Legion is making waves on the small screen, leaving fans thinking that more adult-oriented X-Men movies will be the way forward for Fox. A Deadpool sequel is already in the works, of course, (as well as Supernova and a New Mutants project), but it’s the third Merc With A Mouth movie that has us really excited, as rumor has it that Deadpool 3 will be the film to bring the X-Force team into this cinematic universe. Ahead of this long-awaited entry to the X-Men world, we’ve rounded up 15 things that every X-fan needs to know about this black-ops mutant team.
15 It’s A New Team
Relatively speaking, anyway. Unlike many other groups who have been in comic books for decades, X-Force only made their comic debut in the ‘90s. This may not seem that new, especially to readers who are younger than the team itself, but compared to the original X-Men (who first appeared in 1963), they are a brand new part of the Marvel landscape.
The team first appeared in the final, hundredth, issue of The New Mutants title in April of 1991. Later that year, the team got their own comic (titled simply X-Force), released in August 1991, which was planned from the time that New Mutants was wrapping up. The team was created by Rob Liefeld, a comic artist well-known for his work on The New Mutants. Liefeld’s work on X-Force was hugely popular, although he left after a very short time in order to form Image Comics, along with several other well-known Marvel artists and writers.
14 They Weren't The First Team Named X-Force
Before the X-Force as we know it first appeared in The New Mutants, another team appeared in Marvel Comics with the same name. This team made their debut in the Cloak and Dagger series, where they were enemies of the titular team. Also known as Uncanny X-Force, the team appeared in February of 1990 for a grand total of four issues. This X-Force was created by a branch of the US government, using drugs and radiation to give volunteers superpowers and send them into action.
Although the team members are not actually mutants, they were named after existing X-Men. This means that the roster for this short-lived version of the X-Force included a Longshot, Wolverine, Psylocke, Havok (aka Bedlam), Dazzler, Rogue, Storm (aka Tempest) and Colossus – none of whom are the characters commonly associated with those names. The team ended up rebelling against their government creators and battling Cloak and Dagger before revealing their story and joining forces with them in order to escape.
13 The Team As We Know It Was Founded By Cable
Cable, the time-travelling son of Jean Grey and Cyclops, was the original leader and founder of X-Force, the name he gave to his reformed New Mutants team. A powerful telepathic and telekinetic mutant, Cable was infected with a techno-organic virus as a baby and sent into the future to save his life. Eventually, of course, Nathan Summers returned to the Marvel ‘present’ as the powerful Cable, and began integrating into the mutant community.
Cable initially joined the New Mutants, taking over as their leader and starting to take the team in a more militant direction, which many took issue with. Under his leadership, the New Mutants became distanced from the other X-Teams, and this only continued when the New Mutants were re-formed as Cable’s X-Force. Cable created X-Force when the New Mutants were disbanded, and continued to push his team toward more direct and violent action, usually against his arch-nemesis Stryfe and his Mutant Liberation Front.
12 There Have Been Several Other Iterations Of The Team
Although Cable was the original leader of X-Force, he is not the only one to head up the team over the years. There have, in fact, been several different variations of the team with different leaders, line-ups, and missions. Cable was first replaced by Peter Wisdom, a British mutant, who led the team for a period before being shot and ‘killed’ (which was later revealed to have been a ruse). This team was still very much the same as Cable’s original crew, however, just with a new leader.
Much later, Cyclops created a new X-Force team to be led by Wolverine to act as a ‘hit-squad’ of sorts, taking on threats to the other, more legitimate X-Teams. This team continued to work in secret for Cyclops for many years, before he officially disbanded them after many of the other X-Men learned of the team and weren’t happy about their actions. Despite Cyclops' orders, X-Force continued to exist, now led entirely by Wolverine and named the Uncanny X-Force.
11 X-Force Became X-Statix in 2002
All these multiple variations of the X-Force team might start getting confusing, so we thought we’d toss in the oft-forgotten celebrity X-Force: X-Statix. In 2002, the team was revamped entirely, going from a darker, more violent X-Team to a group of younger mutants packaged as celebrities. Initially, it was the manipulative Coach that brought them together, before a later version of the team was lead by the amoral Spike Freeman. X-Statix was a slightly bizarre offshoot of the X-Force team, and it was promptly canceled in 2004 after only 26 issues.
However, X-Statix is definitely worth reading, as it is a soap-opera-style, satirical look at the superhero genre, and it includes some truly unique and fascinating characters. X-Statix also returned for a five-issue mini-series in 2006, X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl, giving fans a chance to re-live the joys of this underrated version of the X-Force. However, X-Statix is often forgotten about in the X-Force mythology, probably because it has such a hugely different tone to the main Cable-led team.
10 There Is No Current X-Force Title
At the moment, there is no X-Force title for Marvel Comics, although Cable and his various team members still exist in the Marvel universe (obviously). The Uncanny X-Force title was split after 2012 as part of Marvel NOW, becoming two titles, each with their own X-Force team. The new Uncanny X-Force continued the story of Wolverine’s secret X-Force team -- brought together after Cyclops officially shut down his incarnation of the team -- with a change in roster and Psylocke in the lead. The second X-Force series in Marvel NOW (released in 2013) was titled Cable and X-Force, and focuses on Cable’s team, a fugitive group also calling themselves X-Force.
Then, in 2014, these two titles were once more combined to create X-Force Vol 4 for All New Marvel NOW – with the new team including both Psylocke and Cable. This run lasted only 15 issues, however, and the latest Marvel run (All New, All Different Marvel) doesn’t include an X-Force title.
9 X-Force Are The X-Men ‘Black Ops’
If all this talk of titles and team rosters is getting a little confusing, focus on the core purpose of the X-Force team: to be a darker, paramilitary mutant group who act as a black ops unit in the Marvel universe. Unlike the more famous X-Teams, X-Force are not a purely heroic ensemble.
Over the years, multiple characters have joined the team who have been villains as well as heroes, even when working for the ‘good guys’ (like Cyclops). From the very beginning, Cable led his team to be more violent than the other X-teams, focusing on taking out potential threats, not just reacting to villains when they cause trouble. The Cyclops-led version of the team was authorized to use lethal force to deal with threats to mutantkind, and the Uncanny X-Force team that came after Cyclops’ was disbanded includes mutants who have willingly killed in the past. This has often brought X-Force into conflict with other mutants who disagree with their methods, even though they are usually on the same side.
8 The Original Line-Up
Cable’s original X-Force included several mutants brought over from the New Mutants team, although he also brought on board any others that he felt would help X-Force in their aims. The first roster included Domino, Cannonball, Boom Boom, Rictor, Sunspot, Feral, Shatterstar, Warpath, Siryn, and Bedlam. Cannonball would later become a leader of X-Force himself, and was Cable’s second in command. He eventually went on to become an X-Men member and then an Avenger.
Although the first Domino to join X-Force was actually Copycat in disguise, Domino has since become a key member of the team, and she appears in many of the X-Force incarnations, including the Wolverine-led X-Force sanctioned by Cyclops and the later Cable and X-Force incarnation. Boom Boom also rejoined the X-Force for Cable’s recent leadership.
The rest of the original roster has moved on to other things: Siryn, Rictor, and Shatterstar joined X-Factor Investigations, Sunspot became an Avenger, and Warpath has bounced around between multiple X-Teams.
7 The Most Famous Members
Like many comic book crews, there have been multiple different team rosters over the years that X-Force has been around, with each of the various incarnations changing the group dynamic. There are a few mutants, however, that are most closely associated with the team – or that are simply extremely well-known characters.
Cable is (obviously) the main mutant connected with X-Force, and Domino has been a part of multiple X-Force teams and is also commonly associated with them. Wolverine, possibly Marvel’s most popular mutant ever, is closely connected to the team courtesy of his time leading them for Cyclops, and X-23, who is about to make her big-screen debut in Logan, has also been an X-Force member. More recent incarnations of the team have also seen big names like Storm, Angel, Psylocke, and Deadpool as X-Force members -- the latter of which is particularly interesting, given that Deadpool has fought the original X-Force lineup, in league with Tolliver and Copycat, as they attempted to kill Cable.
6 X-Force Enemies
With Cable as their leader, much of the early days of X-Force were spent going up against Cable’s arch nemesis, Stryfe. Stryfe and his terrorist group, the Mutant Liberation Force, were the primary opponents in the early days of X-Force, but they weren’t the only ones. Cable’s first X-Force team also went up against the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, the Morlocks, Tolliver (with Deadpool and Copycat in his employ) and various other individual villains, including Juggernaut.
Later, the Cyclops-created (and Wolverine-led) version of the team went up against different enemies; the mutant-hating Purifiers, the Leper Queen, and the Friends of Humanity are all foes of the X-Force. Taking out anti-mutant groups is a huge part of the new X-Force’s plans to take a more offensive approach to protecting their brethren, rather than the usual defensive one. After Cyclops’ team was disbanded, the new X-Force takes on Apocalypse (as a child), a decision that has huge repercussions for the group as a whole.
5 X-Force Romance
Unsurprisingly, several of the team members have a romantic history. It tends to happen, as comic writers add some inter-team romances to spice things up in the comic book universe. Cable himself is most commonly linked with Domino, and the two have an on-again, off-again romance that never really goes anywhere (but is likely to show up in the live-action universe). Domino has also shared a kiss with Wolverine, but that didn’t turn into anything more serious either.
Two of the original X-Force members, Rictor and Shatterstar, are in a relationship together – one of the many LGBT relationships in the X-Men universe. Deadpool and Siryn have a history as well, although we are unlikely to see this in the X-Men cinematic universe, as Deadpool’s love interest is firmly established as Vanessa at the moment. A final important relationship in the X-Force team is the tragic love story of Psylocke and Angel. These two were in love while in X-Force, but when Angel is tapped to become the Heir of Apocalypse, Psylocke is forced to kill him. Although she manages to save his life in the end, he loses his memory – including his memory of their relationship.
4 Wolverine May Return For An X-Force Movie
Wolverine is closely linked with the X-Force team. As we’ve seen, he led the unit for a long time, and his natural predisposition to violence and the moral gray area make him a perfect fit for this black ops X-team. However, Hugh Jackman has said that Logan will be his final outing as the clawed mutant for the cinematic universe. Is this truly the end for Jackman in the X-verse, or is it possible that we will see him in an X-Force movie?
The short answer is: maybe. Although Jackman is intending to wrap up after this year, Ryan Reynolds has made it clear that he would like to see Jackman pop his claws again so that the two can work together – and Reynolds has certainly proven persistent when it comes to getting what he wants for Deadpool! We could certainly see Jackman returning for a cameo, at the very least, although it’s more likely that X-23 will be playing a larger part in an X-Force film.
3 The X-Force Movie Line-Up Focused On The Original Team
Plans for an X-Force movie have been in development hell for some time now, and the line-up has undoubtedly gone through multiple changes since it was first considered. However, we do know who was originally being considered for the live-action treatment back in 2013, when Jeff Wadlow was writing a script for the project.
An X-Force movie would have reportedly centered on Cable (obviously), Domino, Cannonball, Warpath, and an unnamed female mutant, according to concept artist Gregory Semkow, who collaborated with Wadlow on the art. These four characters are all members of the original lineup, suggesting that this script was going back to the beginning of X-Force for inspiration. The unnamed woman in the hoodie could be a range of characters. Many have speculated that it's Rogue, because of the white streak in her hair, but her fingerless gloves (not pictured) and lack of connection to the team suggest otherwise. It’s more likely that this is Feral, who is also shown with white streaks in her hair.
2 Cable And Domino Will Be In Deadpool 2
We already know that X-Force will most likely be set up with the third installment in the Deadpool series, but it looks like we’ll also be getting an early introduction to at least two of the team members in Deadpool 2. The sequel, due to hit theaters in 2018, will see Reynolds back as Deadpool (obviously), and could even see Pierce Brosnan take on Cable – although that casting is still very much in the realm of rumor at the moment.
Domino, meanwhile, is even more of a blank, as she wasn’t confirmed as appearing until very recently. X-Force creator Rob Liefeld was very open about her appearance in the film in an interview earlier this week, however, leading fans to believe that the lucky X-Force staple will also be joining the Deadpool 2 ensemble. This has still not been 100% confirmed by Fox themselves, however, so until we start hearing some casting announcements, we’ll be holding back on getting too excited. Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) may also tie into the X-Force movie, as she will likely become Copycat – who impersonated Domino in the early days of X-Force.
1 An X-Force Movie Will Be R-Rated...Probably
Like the casting for Cable and Domino, this hasn’t been confirmed by the studio, but fans are fairly confident that the upcoming X-Force movie will end up being rated R. Deadpool broke records as a hard-R comic book movie, Logan has also received an R-rating, and X-Force is a team that lends itself to more of the same kind of blasé violence that we are loving in these recent X-Men movies. X-universe writers and producers agree: it just makes sense.
All of this does depend, of course, on the X-Force movie actually happening! First announced in 2013, the film was originally planned for a 2017 release (which is obviously not happening), and although a script was written, X-Force landed in development hell along with Gambit, another X-Men project that is struggling to come to life. Now, it seems that Fox is talking about the movie again, and if Logan, Deadpool 2 and the rest of the X-verse films do as well as expected, X-Force could finally be on the way again – and we certainly hope that it makes it to the big screen this time!
What else should fans know about X-Force? Which version of the team would you most like to see on the big screen? Let us know in the comments.