The 1990s X-Men Film

Comic book creator Rob Liefeld is one of the most consistently entertaining figures I follow on Twitter. But there’s a difference between following someone for entertainment and following someone for breaking news.

With the comic book movie craze in full swing, rumor sites the world over jump on Liefeld’s every word as if it’s gospel, even if the creator has told them time and time again that he has no special inside information. He’s just a guy sharing his mind, and they don’t seem to realize that’s part of the fun. Maybe that’s all of the fun. He’s not what Jim Dalrymple is to Apple: Liefeld is not the guy to say “Yup” or “Nope” on a rumor and leave it at that, knowing that’s all he has to say. Liefeld’s like the rest of us. He’s guessing (albeit in a more entertaining way than most of the drivel-mongers out there).

One area where his commentary has focused lately is on the big screen futures of two of his most famous creations: Cable and Deadpool. Deadpool, you may remember—if you can get past your irrational hate of the film—appeared as an antagonist in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, played by Ryan Reynolds. He’s the “merc with a mouth” and Reynolds was great in the role, at least before they sewed his mouth shut. Cable, heretofore, has not been seen in the X-universe. He’s the dude with the big guns and glowing eye who sold us on multiple polybagged copies of X-Force #1 back in the 1990s.

Liefeld seems incredulous—along with a substantive part of his following—that Fox, purveyors of the X-Men on film, has yet to cash in on these characters. But here’s a question: what if they’re holding off for the right moment?

Cable, Deadpool, and X-Force are quintessential 90s characters. If Fox follows the pattern established by X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past, which were set in the 60s and 70s respectively, then the next film (X-Men: Apocalypse) will be set in the 1980s and the film after that, set in the 90s, will be a perfect place to introduce Liefeld’s creations.

There are oodles of reasons to do this, but here’s a scenario I can see playing out. Spoilers for X-Men: Days of Future Past follow.

Given how things play out with Mystique at the end of DOFP, the world is now aware of mutants in a much bigger way than they were after the Cuban crisis in First Class. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Apocalypse bring some kind of a mutant arms race to the forefront. If they’re going for the 80s vibe, especially the early 80s vibe, what better backdrop? And if we’ve got a mutant arms race going, we need an official government-sanctioned team. Enter X-Factor.

That sets the stage for future X-Men off-shoots, a sort of splintering of the core group. Maybe in Apocalypse we get introduced to a number of new instructors at Xavier’s school, including a fairly militaristic dude named Cable who takes a bunch of the students off on his own at the end of the film when he sees things playing out in a way he doesn’t like between Xavier and the government.

Who knows? I’m just spitballing here. But I chalk up the lack of Cable and Deadpool in the X-films to a Fox strategy that seems plain as day to me when I look at it. You save the ultimate 90s characters for the film that’s set in the 90s, and that’s all there is to it.