Sunday, March 15, 2015

Cable Sunday: Michael Biehn

The X-Men film franchise started as a major gamble for studio Fox which saw 2000's first film given a decent if unspectacular budget of $75 million, a few familiar faces in the cast and a relatively new director in Bryan Singer. Production was shut down in the middle of shooting to reassess and scripts from the likes of Joss Whedon, Ed Solomon and finally David Hayter had piled up for years. It was a $300 million grossing hit and paved the way for six follow ups in 14 years. The 80's set X-Men: Apocalypse begins shooting soon as does the lower budgeted take on 4th wall breaking, Merc with a mouth Deadpool starring Ryan Reynolds to follow last year's near $750 million dollar grossing Days of Future Past. Last summer, rumors of an X-Force script began to circulate and it was confirmed that Never Back Down and Kick-Ass 2 filmmaker Jeff Wadlow was penning a draft. Then came reports that Channing Tatum would pick up the bo staff, playing cards and New Orleans accent of X-Man Gambit for his own standalone flick.

An X-Force flick could work pretty well as the team is a bit more rough and tumble than Professor Xavier's crew. Instead of a soothing, intelligent and mentor style leader, X-Force is headed by the gruff and calculating soldier from the future Cable. With a scarred face, cybernetic arm and always carrying a huge gun, Cable was designed to be the opposite of the wheelchair bound, talk and think it out Charles. This guy is all about the action and taking down the bad guys "cold, hard and mean". Training his young mutants to be more of a military style response team, X-Force runs into the Mutant Liberation Front and their pack of super powered terrorists working for dude in a ton of armor with a superiority complex, Stryfe. X-Force is made up of Cable's chick and comrade in battle Domino, high flying southern guy Cannonball, the blood thirsty wolf-woman Feral, explosion tossing smartass Boom Boom, native tribesman strong dude Warpath and man from another planet/dimension bred to be a warrior Shatterstar. Whipping this rag tag team of outcasts to fight an organized and maniacal threat to humanity is total fodder for a high octane, fast moving action flick filled with hand to hand battle and CGI spectacle. With more of a focus on close quarter combat, you could build up some match ups and showdowns between characters heading into the I'm sure to be explosion and destruction filled finale. Which would be a nice change of pace from previous superhero flicks where our team fights an army of faceless goons a la X-Men: The Last Stand or The Avengers.

Way back in the 90's, Wizard Magazine nominated Clint Eastwood to play Cable in a yet to be produced X-Men movie that also included Michael Biehn as Cyclops, Dolph Lundgren as Colossus and Jean-Claude Van Damme as Gambit. Creator Rob Liefeld has read the first draft of X-Force and could barely contain his excitement. While production is still a ways off, The Liefeld dropped names like Tom Hardy, Jon Hamm and Stephen Lang for Cable. It's an interesting role to fill as Cable is an older character; white haired and grizzled with scars on his face. Not exactly Hollywood's favorite casting call. Tom Hardy seems a bit young for it while Hamm has the jawline if not the presence. Stephen Lang is a pretty close call given his role and appearance in Avatar as the hard ass, pumped up military leader with scars down his head. But for me, I can't help but think this is a role for the one and only Michael Biehn. Given Cable's time traveling history, sent back to prevent an incident with future repercussions is at least in passing similar to Biehn's Kyle Reese in James Cameron's The Terminator. If you'll recall, Skynet's machines have risen, wiped out most of the human population with nuclear strikes and uses the remaining survivors as labor. Leader of the resistance John Connor is a pain in their side so they send a killing machine back to 1984 to kill his mother Sarah before he's born. Soldier Reese travels back to protect her, essentially giving his life for a woman he's never met but fallen in love with through stories and a single photograph.

From there Biehn donned a headset, body armor and giant Pulse Rifle as a space Marine in Aliens and has played his fair share of gun toting and futuristic cops, soldiers and secret agent types in flicks like Navy Seals, The Rock and Planet Terror. Now pushing 60, the Biehn is the perfect age and amount of grizzled to play Cable. His memorable baggage as a time traveler and space soldier make a nice through line to the metallic mutant. Still lithe and athletic, it's not hard to imagine Biehn pumping up a bit and donning a white wig and fake scars while running around barking orders, firing off future guns and being the hard yet reliable heart of the upstarts. Just think the vulnerable physicality of Kyle Reese with the taciturn hard ass-ness of The Rock's Commander Anderson only with shoulder pads and a metal arm. Since Cable is always dealing with potential futures and alternate time lines, it would be a weird fan theory full circle as X-Men was originally set up at Carolco at Cameron's request before being sold off to Fox. Biehn would have been an awesome Cyclops in a Cameron produced X-Men film from the 90's and Cable is actually Cyke's kid in the comics so if he couldn't play the father, how about the son?

Unfortunately X-Force is stuck in development as producers are leery about having more than two X-Men related movies in a year given the glut of superhero flicks from Marvel, DC and Fox's own Fantastic Four hitting theaters in the next few years. After casting hot at the time Taylor Kitsch as Gambit in the woeful Wolverine Origins flick they've upgraded to Tatum for a follow up so I'm sure they'll go with someone with more heat for Cable if a flick ever does get made.  But here's hoping Biehn returns for Alien 5, it's a huge hit and it leads him right into X-Force.

Body slide to HQ...

1 comment:

  1. When Cable showed up on the 90s X-Men cartoon, I lost my 13 year old s**t that Saturday. That episode is the one I remember most.