Who is Deadpool 2's Cable? Here's everything you need to know

The most convoluted backstory in comics, explained.

Morgan Little Senior Director, Audience
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Morgan Little
4 min read

Who is this guy?

20th Century Fox

Deadpool 2 features Josh Brolin as Cable, a super soldier who spends most of his time shooting and scowling. The movie hints at Cable's complex backstory but mostly keeps things simple. It establishes him as a tragic time traveler with a metal arm and a light-up laser eye. 

If you've just come out of Deadpool 2 wondering why Cable has any of that going on, you may want to sit down. The answers are going to be more than a little complicated. And no, they aren't covered by Deadpool's post-credit scenes.

And yes, there will be some spoilers for Deadpool 2 here. Proceed with caution!

Cable's first comics appearance came in New Mutants No. 87 in 1990. As you can see, he looks pretty familiar, if a little overly '90s. Cable, with his military mindset, led the New Mutants against a number of foes before reforming the New Mutants into X-Force. If you're an X-Men fan, you probably remember the intro arc, with Cable and the team duking it out against Juggernaut alongside Spider-Man. Deadpool 2 actually contains a few callbacks to those early issues, especially during the climactic fight with Juggernaut.

Over those early years, Cable was slowly revealed to be a time traveler who was trying to stop his arch-nemesis Stryfe. (Yes, that's a real villain moniker.) That would be the last time Cable's backstory made any sense, with his solo series revealing in 1993 that he was Nathan Christopher Summers.

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Sound familiar? That's because the Summers family is all over the X-Men universe. Scott Summers is better known as frequent (and currently dead) X-Men leader Cyclops. Scott's brother, Alex Summers, goes by Havoc, can also shoot beams and is sometimes an X-Man. Their third brother, Gabriel, was incubated in space and took over the Shi'ar Empire at one point. Their dad is a space pirate who goes by the name Corsair.

Confused yet? It gets better. Cable is actually Cyclops' son, the product of a relationship with Madelyne Pryor, a clone of Jean Grey, who at one point was known as the Goblin Queen. It was the '80s, and goblins were all the rage. Just look at Labyrinth.

Soon after his birth, Cable was captured by frequent X-Men villain Apocalypse and infected with the techno-organic virus. The virus, which would turn Cable into a human-machine hybrid that has no consistent definition, couldn't be solved by the methods of the time, so a woman from an alternate future whisked him into her timeline and saved his life.

Never mind that the woman who saved him is an alternate version of his half-sister Rachel. That's a whole different mess.

Rachel cloned Cable just so she could have a backup (seriously, there are so many clones in the X-Men universe), but that clone was abducted by followers of Apocalypse. That clone, if you haven't already guessed, became Stryfe. Meaning that yes, Cable's arch-nemesis is a pointier-looking clone of himself.

But don't worry about Cable missing his parents. Or at least his dad. Cyclops and the real Jean Grey had their minds transported into Cable's future, where they assumed the identities of Slym and Redd and raised him for a while. 

Cable took after his mom and was a powerful psychic, and he eventually would use his powers to prevent the techno-organic virus from killing him. It would mean that a large portion of his incredible powers would be kept at bay by this effort, but what's cooler than someone fighting at only a fraction of their full strength?

If you're wondering why Cable bothered to come to the past if things were kind of OK 2,000 years in the future, blame Stryfe. He traveled back in time. Cable followed and chased his rival even before he was technically ever born. He also took on some mercenary work because why not add that to the mix?

As for Deadpool, he and Cable actually had their own 50-issue series that started in 2004, pitting the preposterous Merc With a Mouth against the stoic Cable before they ended up becoming friends and allies.


Why can't they just get along?

20th Century Fox

Over the course of the series, Cable tries to save the world by being kind of a supervillain, fights the Silver Surfer, loses his powers, is killed by Deadpool, is discovered in an alternate timeline as a baby and re-aged to adulthood. And that's just the first half of the series run, so there's plenty of source material the Deadpool movie franchise can pull upon for future entries after Cable makes the decision at the end of Deadpool 2 not to return to his future.

Since a seven-hour Cable prequel would be a bit much, Deadpool 2 avoids pretty much all of this nightmarish backstory (and that's not even all of it), though the basics remain the same. Cable demonstrates psychic ability, appears to still be infected by the techno-organic virus and comes from the future. In a reference to a story arc in which he takes a presumed "Mutant Messiah" into the future, Cable's daughter in Deadpool 2 is named Hope, which was the name he gave to said messiah in the future.

Hope in the comics didn't end up being anyone's messiah, though, after the Phoenix Force was interrupted on its journey to Earth by Tony Stark and broken into multiple parts before combining with several other members of the X-Men and... wait, where are you going? There's so much more X-Men lore to explore! Come back! It starts making sense around the time they start fighting the Inhumans over the Terrigen Mist, I swear!

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Deadpool 2 kills all expectations, if you ignore the first half: The movie takes too long to get to its best meta jokes and gleeful violence, but once it does, it proves to be a worthy sequel.

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