Upfront, what you’re about to read began as a discussion on a potential Newsarama countdown for actors to portray Cable in Fox’s announced-but-not-yet-scheduled X-Force, the next phase of the studio’s X-franchise following 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past.
But when we started to list potential names, we stopped at the very first one and said, ‘Hold on, do we ever need to name nine more? Isn’t this the guy?’
We’ll get to that and him in a moment, but how did we even arrive on assuming Cable will be an integral part of the film in the first place? We started with what we know about X-Force thus far. And while it’s not much, it gives us something to go on.
Kick-Ass 2 director Jeff Wadlow is reportedly “very deep into” writing a screenplay and is in line to direct what he refers to as an “edgier” take on Marvel’s mutant-verse.
Characters-wise, while Wadlow has reportedly said there is no “iconic line-up” of the team, he has mentioned having love for and being influenced by the original 1991 X-Force #1 and the current Uncanny X-Force, with Fox’s Marvel consultant Mark Millar adding a cinematic X-Force would consist of at last five core members.
The always outspoken original X-Force co-creator (with Fabian Nicieza) Rob Liefeld then took to Twitter after the news surfaced to name-drop Cable and Deadpool as being synonymous with "X-Force."
Deadpool would be of little surprise. Fox has been trying to develop a solo movie featuring the ‘Merc with a mouth’ for years and somewhat shoehorned a version played by Ryan Reynolds into 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He’d obviously have to overcome the beheading he endured in that lowly-regard film to be featuered in X-Force, but if anyone could bounce back from that it would be Wade Wilson. And perhaps starring in X-Force could serve as a springboard for a future solo film? Anyway, that’s a story for another day.
Because it's Cable that even makes more sense to us as a featured, central player for whatever the next phase in Fox’s film plans are.
After what will be five films featuring Xavier in the mentor role, there’s certainly an argument to be made finding a fresh, new center of the X-verse makes sense if the franchise is going to find new life in the latter part of its second decade on screen.
Cable is iconic enough in the comic book world to please the hardcore base, and his militaristic, action/anti-hero vibe plays into current zeitgeist more than the manipulative/pacifist role Xavier embodies.
Cable, in fact, is something of a mash-up of Xavier and Magneto, whose dynamic has been at the epicenter of the films so far. Cable’s heroic, but proactive and not afraid to bring the fight to the problem and get his hands dirty for the right cause. He’s someone who can serve as an instructor/mentor/role model, but is willing to also instruct his protégé’s in the ways of war. In a more literal sense, he's both a telepath, like Xavier, and a soldier/child of war like Magneto.
And with the time-travel door being opened up in Days, isn’t Cable a logical choice to step over the threshold?
So assuming for sake of discussion Cable’s in Fox’s plans, let’s now rattle off some of necessary characteristics an actor playing Cable would need to bring to the fold.
He’d likely have to be in at least his 40’s, to credibly play the very war-worn, 40s to 50-ish Cable of the comic books.
He’d need to possess a very considerable physique despite knocking on the door of middle-aged, and he'd need to possess the presence to command screen authority as a militaristic leader/mentor.
From Fox’s standpoint, they’d probably like to have a new franchise anchor bring some specific qualities to the table as well.
Assuming X-Force is intended as something of a fresh start, breaking away from the Xavier-Magneto rivalry, leaving behind the Xavier school element, and quite possibly having to do without the draw of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, someone with proven box office chops and a track record of helping revive franchises would certainly fit the bill.
A high Q-factor among young, multi-cultural, and especially worldwide audiences couldn’t hurt.
And by now if you haven’t said to yourself – 'hey, waitaminute, they’re talking about Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, aren’t they?’, then we haven’t been doing our job well enough.
Let’s check off the positives on the resume:
* 40-something/can credibly play older – check.
* A super-heroic physique despite a somewhat advanced age (with some acting ability as part of the package) – double-check.
* Commanding screen presence/credible as a military leader – check (at least if you count on-screen experience).
* A personal, outspoken love of comic books and superhero movies – check.
* A box office track record – check-ching.
Johnson has in fact, been called “franchise Viagra”, for his ability to boost the box office performance of film series in which he appears.
One intrepid researcher even put the math to the test and demonstrated what he calls the Dwayne Johnson effect.
And while Johnson wasn’t a magic elixir for G.I Joe’s domestic box office (Retaliation actually generated less North American box office than The Rise of Cobra), the 2013 Johnson-starring follow-up easily outpaced the original globally and it’s the worldwide stage (where the X-Men is not a yet a huge presence) that the Rock could provide the most help.
So tell us what you think – are Cable and The Rock (with a little gray hair) a match made in mutant heaven, or an Age of Apocalypse-like hell?