The X-Men changes line-ups like most teams change their away kits. In the decades since the mutants first appeared, scores of characters have joined them – among them former enemies including Magneto, Mystique, Rogue and Juggernaut. But with the fifth X-movie hitting cinemas this week and a whole host more mutants lining up, we thought we’d take a moment to focus on the mutants who have not yet appeared in the movies at all, and assess whether some of these fan-favourites (and not-so-favourites) would work onscreen...
*Powers:* Telekinesis and telepathy of variable strengths, a techno-organic virus which gives him increased strength and eyesight, as well as the ability to interact with computers and travel through time.
The son of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor (herself a clone of Jean Grey), raised in a far future time, Cable is a soldier and a man of action – but also something of an idealist beneath that hulking great exterior. There’s a whole lot of Age Of Apocalypse backstory there, but for our money the best thing that a film could do with Cable is borrow from the Messiah story, wherein he undertook to protect young Hope Summers, the first mutant born after most of the planet’s mutant population was de-powered and one who becomes a target for, among others, Bishop, since she’s said to be responsible for a devastated future. He’s a soldier but also a nanny! It’s like The Pacifier with mutants: how could this not be a hit? (Actually, it’s a bit more Terminator 2 with superpowers, one would hope).
Cable’s powers vary from well-nigh limitless at times to something more like his mother’s at others. His “techno-organic virus” is both a source of strength (metal bits all along the left of his body! Increased strength and eyesight!) and weakness (limits his mental powers!)
*Fantasy casting:* Since he looks a bit like a younger Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin with a dye job?
*Powers:* He can absorb and redirect massive amounts of energy, has extraordinary physical strength and agility, and always knows where he is.
You know how it is: you’re meandering through a nightmare future where gigantic robot sentinels rule the world, working as part of XSE (Xavier’s Security Enforcers) to bring criminal mutants to justice, when a time portal opens up and you end up stranded in history. There, you sometimes work with and sometimes against the X-Men in an attempt to prevent your nightmare future from coming into being, along the way playing a key role in ending the Age of Apocalypse and guarding the super-prison of the Civil War saga.
Bishop’s big, brash and a little unpredictable, making him a promising addition to any super-team since, let’s face it, there’s always room for an anti-hero. That time travel thing might be a bit of a large pill to swallow for the vaguely realistic X-films, but you could always leave his origin shadowy at first and clear it up somewhere down the line in the sequels.
*Fantasy casting:* Jason Momoa – he’s big, he’s muscly, and we’re sure that he’d welcome the chance not to ride any horses onscreen.
*Powers:* She had the ability to project “pyrotechnic energy plasmoids” and seems to be largely immune to telepathic powers.
Teenage runaway Jubilation “Jubilee” Lee was a persistent, if sometimes annoying, presence in the 1990s X-cartoons, but so far hasn’t turned up to any great effect onscreen. In the comics and on TV, she was often paired with Wolverine, to show off his fluffier and more caring side (Rogue filled the same role in the first film) but Jubilee is no shrinking violet. Her “fireworks” are just the tip of a mutant potential that she left largely unexplored, afraid that she will be unable to control herself, but her penchant for saving the day when everyone else is incapacitated gets a little old after a while.
If we had to vote for one of these characters being most likely to one day turn up in a speaking role, Jubilee would be high on the list (she had a background role in the main X-trilogy). She’s fairly popular, she’s in the right age group to fit with most of the X-characters and she has a cinema-friendly power. Just leave out all that current bumph about her being a vampire, eh?
*Fantasy casting:* Jamie Chung’s rather popular right now, but Maggie Q would be a great fit.
*Powers:* He’s a dragon, so he can fly and breathe fire. Also, he’s empathetic, but that’s much, much less cool.
Technically, Lockheed is an alien member of a dragon-like race who fly through space using “astral ships” to contain their essence. But in practice, he’s an intelligent dog-sized dragon, which makes him just about the greatest pet that has ever lived and someone who should be onscreen now. Think of the merchandising! OK, maybe don’t. Still, he is kind of adorable, even if his backstory makes no sense for the current X-universe.
Lockheed’s also one of those likeable small characters who never lets his size hold him back. In the World War Hulk comics, for instance, he attacked the big green guy himself. He was soundly trounced, inevitably, but it’s the thought that counts, eh?
*Fantasy casting:* The best effects guys around! And maybe Andy Serkis for his facial expressions.
*Powers:* He has a superhuman facility for invention, along with mystical training as a medicine man and a pretty impressive talent for marksmanship.
Forge is the MacGyver character of the X-Men – but instead of being able to fashion explosive devices out of three paperclips and a chicken, Forge can manufacture high-tech prosthetic limbs and powerful mutation-suppressive fields without even needing the chicken. He’s really that good. As if that weren’t enough, he’s also a trained Cheyenne medicine man with mystical (and possibly mystikal) abilities, so if you piss him off enough he’ll send demons (or possibly daemons – you can never trust the spelling in these comics) after you.
Had the main series of X-movies continued on a little longer, Forge could have cropped up as a love interest for Storm, with whom he had an on-again, off-again romance in the comics.
*Fantasy casting:* There aren’t very many Native American actors out there: Adam Beach maybe? But could he carry off that moustache?
*Powers:* He absorbs solar energy and converts it to physical strength (but he’s not from Krypton), and depending on what era of comic you pick up he may be able to fly too.
With powers that share more than a little in common with the similarly named Japanese mutant Sunfire, Sunspot’s a Brazilian who gets his start as one of the New Mutants but graduates to X-Man status. Of course – also like Sunfire – he goes to the bad and back again so many times that you’ll be hard-pressed to keep up, but them’s the breaks for virtually everyone in the X-Universe at one time or another. Everybody eventually finds themselves victim to mind-control / brain washing / an elaborate trick / hallucinogenic substances / whatever, so we can’t really blame Sunspot.
More to the point, he could look pretty startling onscreen. When he goes into full-on powered-up mode, Sunspot turns jet-black with burning white eyes and a sort of corona of energy, and could end up looking like someone burned a hole in the celluloid (in a good way).
*Fantasy casting:* Maybe Douglas Silva or Leandro Firmino?
*Powers:* Some telepathy. Apart from that, she’s Empress of a technologically powerful alien race, so she has a heck of an arsenal at her disposal.
Hey, X-filmmakers? Fancy a challenge? Go ahead and try to introduce the Shi’ar, an alien race whose leader, Lilandra, forms a psychic love bond with Professor X from halfway across the galaxy. He’s just that sexy, ladies! Then you can have X-Men in Space, getting involved in power struggles for the Shi’ar throne and wars against the suspiciously Alien-like brood and all sorts of 1980s ridiculousness.
But to be honest, we’re just intrigued to see that hairstyle blown up to cinema size. It’s the ultimate step in an on-screen hair-volution that has passed through Babylon 5’s Centauri and The Phantom Menace’s Queen Amidala to our big-haired space empress herself.
*Fantasy casting:* Keira Knightley, since we already know she has chemistry with James McAvoy.